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Empress of Forever

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  2,653 ratings  ·  485 reviews
A feminist Guardians of the Galaxy—a smart, swashbuckling, wildly imaginative adventure of a rag-tag team of brilliant misfits, dangerous renegades, and enhanced outlaws in a war-torn future.

A wildly successful innovator to rival Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, Vivian Liao is prone to radical thinking, quick decision-making, and reckless action. On the eve of her greatest achieve
Paperback, 480 pages
Published June 18th 2019 by Tor Books
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Eric Actually, in my head she was a bigger, more scarred version of new Catra. :)

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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,653 ratings  ·  485 reviews

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Jun 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
I requested this knowing that I loved Gladstone's Craft series, and that he can write an engrossing and unusual fantasy world when he puts his mind to it. Empress of Forever starts a bit like a movie where the Bored Super Rich Person Who Still Doesn't Take It For Granted (I forget which movie that was) Who Walks Away From It All to do something mysterious. The U.S. has become progressively farther along the road to a surveillance state, so the route she takes is complex, and had far too much det ...more
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5/5 stars

Praise-worthy imagination and world-building, but sadly, it’s time to admit that Max Gladstone’s books aren’t suitable for me.

Empress of Forever has been on my TBR ever since I first heard about it. Judging from the blurb alone, I was immediately intrigued. Just read the blurb, seriously, it sounds so cleverly insane and my god, Gladstone delivers completely on this; stunningly original and cool world-building to witness. That’s exactly what I found to be brilliant from Gladstone’s bo
Rebecca Roanhorse
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Max Gladstone is one of my favorite writers. His imagination is a thing of wonder, and his worldbuilding continuously blows me away. This book was no exception. I saw someone describe this as a "gonzo Guardians of the Galaxy" and that's totally fair. It's a space adventure with a rag tag crew of misfits and it is massive in scope and scale. But it's also very Gladstone, which means it's philosophical and mathematical and lyrical and, honestly, just beyond my ken sometimes - but that's okay. I li ...more
Sep 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
This is an action-packed, furiously paced...mess of a novel that I've been trying to read for almost two months. I concede defeat. Watching Max Gladstone try to write a blockbuster space opera is every bit as painful as listening to my favorite indie band going all Coldplay on me. (And not even Coldplay when Coldplay was good.) His quirky imagination - perhaps best exemplified in his necromantic lawyers of Three Parts Dead - is a poor fit for the thrill-a-minute space opera adventure he's trying ...more
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
First things first: I had a great time.

As in, this is a goofy, fast-paced, unabashedly hard-SF, galaxy-spanning space-opera mania that mixes cloud-computing universe-spanning quantum-computing with the afterlife, instant travel, world-eating gods, cyborgs, huge space battles, and a HUGE baddie in the Empress of Forever who is literally impossible to defeat because she IS the substrate of the entire universe I just described.

When it comes to the whole grab bag of SF concepts and the way it is a
May 03, 2019 marked it as to-read
Pitched as 'feminist Guardians of the Galaxy crossed with Star Wars'.

I'm like...

That's me.

Hand it over!
Django Wexler
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Do I get to write the first review? It's amazing!
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction, lgbt
Vivian Liao is a Jobs-like tech entrepreneur whose found herself in trouble with the government. While going through her ultimate plan to not-be-waterboarded she's attacked by a bizarre green figure working with technology that might as well be magic. Afterwards she wakes up naked and cocooned in a far future posthuman galaxy where even the substrate of space is programmable, and the whole thing is brutally and capriciously ruled by an all-powerful Empress. As Vivian gathers allies and makes ene ...more
The Captain
May 13, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandon-ship
I am a huge fan of the author's work and so was excited for this excerpt. After reading it, I have to admit that I am ambivalent about this story. I really enjoy the three main characters. But the plot is confusing me. Multi-worlds. Weird empress. Dead worlds. A cloud that seems to control this world. I am not adverse to finishing this book to see what the payout might be. But I can't say that I be excited to do so either. I will be interested in seeing what the reviews of the full book will be. ...more
Madhuri Vairapandi
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
There is nothing Guardians of the Galaxy about this book, to start. That would require charm and characters that carry out ridiculous and delightful hijinks.


I want to start by discussing the premise of the book, which has Viv at the top of her evil game of thwarting the law so that she can make the world a better place. The whole human background story gets completely derailed before we get a real understanding of our protagonist's motives or flaws - everything is surface level and
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one hell of a book, and I didn’t want it to end. Fast-paced, fun, empathetic, with a flavor of Douglas Adams, it’s an ensemble space opera adventure populated by brilliant flawed women. Gladstone has written a universe full of beautiful, weird, original worlds and species, and his prose is stellar.

Also it’s super gay.

The crowns trap our selves. They carve us off from the world. But what is the self? There are pieces of me in all of you, and pieces of you in me. We are all empty of inherent form. Trace the threads of each of us, and you find not just the others, but the entire universe. And what crown could bind the whole universe?

Empress of Forever is one of those rare books where things go crazy, hodge podge elements are thrown together, conflicts keep escalating, and everything fries your brain in
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Jan 18, 2020 marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: 2019-releases
I tried reading this twice, and both times I got about 5% through and just thought.... it's not working for me. I couldn't make myself care about the kinda Mary Sue-ish rich girl character who gets whisked off for alien adventures or something. Gladstone's Craft Sequence apparently works far better for me.
Adah Udechukwu
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Empress of Forever is a bit good though the novel is complicated and its length is quite annoying.
Oct 09, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: adult
That's A Cover

...also apparently this is gay, so
Faith Hicks
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was so anime. A true hearted heroine defeats an unstoppable villain using the power of friendship! I loved it.
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, 2019-release
I think that, around the half way point, I had thought to myself, "Oh, I kinda predicted this would happen". And while, that might have a grain of truth, the ride just kept going, and I kept on enjoying myself as certain twists showed me that there was still so much more to see about this story.

Empress of Forever is one of those delightful SF novels where you're shown what imagination can really do with the genre. Like Rajaniemi's Quantum Thief (this being the only SF novel I've read that appro

(view spoiler)


'The end of time is ruled by an ancient, powerful Empress who blesses or blasts entire planets with a single thought.' WELL, DAMN. ALSO, THAT COVER EXUDES A DON'T-FUCK-WITH-ME BADASSERY

More reasons I want this in my life: 'a big, planet-smashing space opera, set in a majestic and mysterious universe, with a cast of fierce and driven characters at its heart.'

Carysa Locke
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh. My. Gosh. I LOVE this book. It's described as "Star Wars meets Guardians of the Galaxy". But I find shades of Firefly, Killjoys, and honestly this is some of the best SF I've read in years. It has galactic spanning adventure, humor, vivid storytelling, unforgettable characters, and deep and imaginative world building. The prose is right up there with Willam Gibson or Frank Herbert. Intellectual, lyrical, huge in scope and somehow deeply emotional. This is my first book by Max Gladstone, but ...more
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
5 Stars

Wow, Empress of Forever is an awesome read. Max Gladstone is one of my very favorite authors who writes adult fantasy. This however is borderline hard science fiction. Bold, ambitious, and of course operatic. This is truly an imaginative read. I absolutely loved it.

I still have to go back through the book and gather all my notes and quotes but this book was STUNNING! It's a non stop thrill ride and I loved every minute!
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Three and half stars.

Imagine that all the information in the universe can be apprehended and therefore used; for example for traveling great distances by an integration in a sort of hyperspace. Imagine a galaxy in which anyone can connect with this informational aether, can interact with it, and more, anyone have a part of themself in this galactic cloud, that is, like a “soul” (and incidentally it provides a solution for the traditional problem of how to understand the alien languages). Anyone
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
My reading group chose Empress of Forever for our September meeting. I went in completely blind, and was disappointed by what I found. It is a space opera with a bog-standard fantasy plot, incomprehensible action, and a half-baked moral message. The cool ideas of the Cloud, the Bleed, and the pilots of Orn fail to redeem the novel.

Empress of Forever starts as a really cool story about a billionaire tech mogul using an advanced AI creation to take on a corporate-government conspiracy and free the
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received an uncorrected ARC (advanced reading copy for the uninitiated) via social media - I won it in a contest Tor was holding.

I'm sure any tightening up will happen, as the first few chapters were a little clunky, but otherwise my copy...

It was a punch in the heart. This is what SF *is* and this is what it should be. Possibilities. Madcap adventure. Love. Sex. Fun. Space. The pain of parting, yet carrying someone with you, their echo. Discovery. (Of yourself and worlds.) Destroying. (Samers
Mar 01, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, sci-fi, dnf
Full Disclosure: I made it through 8 chapters, to 19% of the book. And there I gave up. Let me tell you why.

Rest of review at The Alliterates

1 March 2020: $2.99 on Kindle
Sarah (CoolCurryBooks)
General thoughts that may or may not become a review:

- It's got a lesbian protagonist!!!
- One of the most important relationships in the book is a female friendship that's given the same focus and narrative structure as a romance, but in a completely platonic way.
- The plot structure is very much like a traditional quest storyline -- rag tag group of characters find each other and have adventures on the way to defeating the evil empress. Personally, this plot type isn't my favorite, and I think
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
that enemies to reluctant partners to found family goodness!!

Rep: Chinese-American lesbian mc, wlw mc
Well, that was... weird. A very different world with different rules and different critters. I don't think there's any sense trying to understand it, it just washes past in waves of... events? Viv, a ruthless businesswoman plucked from her world and dumped in this new one, collects an odd set of companions as she tries to get... home? The characters are interesting, even if what they are doing is usually incomprehensible.
Robert Vanneste
2.5 rounded up . It was inconsistent . Disappointing .
Tim Hicks
Aug 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I am calling this fantasy, as other reviewers have, because it goes so far beyond "this could happen" that it gets into fantasy's "yeah, I know, but what if it did anyway?"

+1 for a daring reach in the enormous scope of this. -1 for having reached a tad too far. I really don't like the big thick books like this that keep introducing a Really Really Powerful Baddie who's untouchable until our hero drops a plastic spoon in just the right place, and in the next chapter here's a new RRPBaddie that c
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Max Gladstone is the author of the Craft Sequence: THREE PARTS DEAD, TWO SERPENTS RISE, FULL FATHOM FIVE, and most recently, LAST FIRST SNOW. He's been twice nominated for the John W Campbell Best New Writer award, and nominated for the XYZZY and Lambda Awards.

Max has taught in southern Anhui, wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat, and been thrown from a horse in Mongolia. Max graduated from Yale Univer

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