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The Interdependency #3

The Last Emperox

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The Last Emperox is the thrilling conclusion to the award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling Interdependency series, an epic space opera adventure from Hugo Award-winning author John Scalzi.

The collapse of The Flow, the interstellar pathway between the planets of the Interdependency, has accelerated. Entire star systems—and billions of people—are becoming cut off from the rest of human civilization. This collapse was foretold through scientific prediction . . . and yet, even as the evidence is obvious and insurmountable, many still try to rationalize, delay and profit from, these final days of one of the greatest empires humanity has ever known.

Emperox Grayland II has finally wrested control of her empire from those who oppose her and who deny the reality of this collapse. But “control” is a slippery thing, and even as Grayland strives to save as many of her people form impoverished isolation, the forces opposing her rule will make a final, desperate push to topple her from her throne and power, by any means necessary. Grayland and her thinning list of allies must use every tool at their disposal to save themselves, and all of humanity. And yet it may not be enough.

Will Grayland become the savior of her civilization . . . or the last emperox to wear the crown?

The Interdependency Series
1. The Collapsing Empire
2. The Consuming Fire
3. The Last Emperox

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

308 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 14, 2020

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About the author

John Scalzi

155 books21.9k followers
John Scalzi, having declared his absolute boredom with biographies, disappeared in a puff of glitter and lilac scent.

(If you want to contact John, using the mail function here is a really bad way to do it. Go to his site and use the contact information you find there.)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,231 reviews
Profile Image for Roxane.
Author 118 books157k followers
May 1, 2020
This was such a satisfying end to this trilogy and the strongest book in the series. There is, as with the other two books in this series, an over-reliance on expository narrative devices to tell too much of the story but it's just such a fun, sexy read with interesting characters and a big, operatic plot, and some really unexpected twists that really surprised me and had me on the edge of my seat turning the pages as fast as I could. Highly recommend this trilogy.
Profile Image for David Bishop.
86 reviews3 followers
April 15, 2020
I initially rated the book at three stars, but dropped it down to two as I sat with my reactions over night.

The summary of my review is: I wish John has finished his part in time to give the editor time to save John from some pretty big mistakes. This is conjecture on my part (that more time would have saved the book) but the "turning it in at the last possible second" certainly didn't help.

The good things: Scalzi still has good dialogue. It's a quick read, at no point did I feel like it bogged down (I mean hell, I finished the whole book in less than 24 hours).

The bad: oof. Almost everything else? Multiple times we would sit inside a character's head for multiple pages while they either 1) recapped the plot of previous books or 2) monologued like Saturday afternoon z-movie villians. And no, lampshading that they were doing just that didn't "fix" it. *Twice* he pulled the "reader thinks character is dead but they're actually *not* dead! Haha!" trick (and again, the fact that the second character is "technically" dead doesn't change the fact that their consciousness lives on, kinda bespoiling the whole "dead" thing). Once, ok. Twice? Lack of imagination.

Speaking of, I kinda feel like wrote himself into a corner and couldn't figure out how to get himself back out. "The flows are collapsing and nothing will stop them from doing so! Billions of people will die!" Ok, then what? "Uh... side-character thinks really hard and fixes it, in what turns out to be almost the c-plot of the book?"

And finally, the *literal* deus ex machina that is Greyland II somehow... pushing Rachela aside in the giant not-dying machine but also Rachela is still in there? So now there's two "people" in the one machine, with no explanation as to how something that definitely only worked for one person before (Rachela made a point of it!) now fits two. And she gets to live on "forever", oh and also (despite, again, establishing that going into the brain/ghost machines doesn't actually give you more or better understanding of FTL physics) she is able to discover a flow back to Earth-space, that Marce can go off and explore with his buddy Chenevert, like two puppies going to play on a farm upstate.


Leaving it at two stars because I did enjoy parts of it, and it wasn't the *worst* book. But I really, really think that if he had turned this in four months before the very last possible second, his editor could have pointed out this fairly large, glaring problems and sorted things out. He's not The World's Greatest Monster, but dang. A real missed opportunity.

P.S. Since I know Scalzi has his haters, I present my bonafides as someone who owns and has enjoyed literally everything else Scalzi has written, fiction-wise, all the way back to Agent to the Stars, reads and enjoys Whatever (and has for ~15 years), and follows and enjoys him on Twitter.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
April 23, 2020
4.5 stars — what a great SF series! Final review, first posted today on Fantasy Literature:

A few thousand years in the future, one branch of humanity, comprised of billions of people, lives on a set of planets called the Interdependency. Their star systems are many hundreds of light years apart but tied together by the Flow, a sort of hyperspace river that connects these planets. The problem is that the Flow is gradually collapsing, one stream at a time, and all of the Interdependency worlds except one (called End) are completely incapable of sustaining human life without the constant importing of food and goods from other worlds — hence the term “Interdependency.” In fact, this economic system was deliberately set up a thousand years earlier in order to enrich just a few elite families, each of which have a monopoly on certain key goods and have become immensely wealthy and powerful as a result.

As The Last Emperox, the concluding novel in John Scalzi’s INTERDEPENDENCY trilogy, begins, the nobles in the Interdependency are finally beginning to accept the fact that all of the Flow streams that tie their worlds together are disappearing. (It’s hard to deny given the mathematical proofs … especially after several streams have collapsed as the physicists predicted.) The Interdependency’s ruler, Emperox Grayland II, called Cardenia by those who know her personally, has been pushing for the government and ruling families to acknowledge the flow collapse and start working together to try to save the people of the Interdependency.

It sounds logical enough, but instead the ruling families are mostly preoccupied with two things: First, saving themselves and their families and hangers-on, by preparing to emigrate to the world of End. After all, End can’t possibly assimilate all of humanity, and the wealthy and powerful are determined that they’ll be the ones to actually wind up there, along with as much of their wealth and power as can possibly make the transfer to End with them. The common people that they ruled on their worlds are out of luck, too bad, so sad.

Second, they’re (still) trying to oust Cardenia from power. She’s already survived two assassination attempts, and Nadashe Nohamapetan is determined that a third attempt will succeed. Nadashe is a fugitive but an extremely well-connected and ruthless one, who’s been a constant thorn in Cardenia’s side since Cardenia declined a political marriage with either Nadashe’s brother or Nadashe herself.

The Last Emperox follows the ongoing struggle between Nadashe and the allies she gathers around her, and Cardenia and her supporters, particularly her lover and leading Flow physicist Marce, and her friend Kiva Lagos, a foul-mouthed schemer with enough of a conscience to realize that, with civilization as she knows it quickly coming to an end, some amount of altruism needs to be injected into to a set of rulers used to acting solely in their own self-interest. Kiva is one of the bright lights in the INTERDEPENDENCY series, as long as you don’t mind her over-the-top case of potty mouth.

The basic plotline and the main characters are already familiar to those who’ve read the first two books, The Collapsing Empire and The Consuming Fire (in fact, it’s vital to read those books first, but this trilogy is definitely worth the investment in time). These characters — well, at least the sympathetic ones — are well-rounded and complex. Cardenia has learned to act as a ruler needs to, but sometimes that’s at odds with her role as a normal person and her developing relationship with Marce. Cardenia and Marce have just the right amount of nerdiness, awkwardness and sincerity that you really root for their relationship. Nadashe, on the other hand, is a little over the top as a one-dimensional villain, although Scalzi still manages to have some fun with her conniving character.

There’s a shocking development toward the end of The Last Emperox. To say much about it would get us into spoiler territory, but I wondered (through my tears) whether this event and the decisions that led to it were as necessary as the book posits. I wasn’t convinced, although a subsequent reread of this book did lead me to conclude that it was, if not essential, at least justifiable. (I’m still pouting about it on a personal level, though.)

The Last Emperox is almost prescient in its critical take on a society in crisis, where people act in short-sighted ways, denying and delaying taking action against a looming problem until it hits crisis point, and too many of those in charge are selfishly focused on their own interests rather than on their responsibilities to those they govern. Scalzi has a serious message to share, but it goes down easily, with a fast pace, lots of action, and frequent doses of snarky humor. This is one of the most compulsively readable, intelligent and enjoyable science fiction series I’ve come across, and it gets my highest recommendation.

Content note: Lots of F-bombs, as usual for this series.

Initial reaction: If anyone is looking for me, you’ll find me in a puddle on the floor. There were a couple of twists in this book that I was NOT expecting in the least.

Review to come, when I recuperate.

Initial post: I am DYING to read this book!


Better yet: who do I have to kill to get a copy?

Update: Personal pleas and throwing myself at the feet of the publicists worked! I now have the ebook ARC!!
Profile Image for Kevin Kuhn.
Author 2 books564 followers
December 9, 2021
This book is the conclusion to a three-book (so far) series called “The Interdependency.” Scalzi published the first in the series in 2017 and this book, “The Last Emperox” in 2020. I always struggle rating the third book in a series – how much weight do you give the series in total versus the last book itself. Perhaps if I just dive in, it will sort itself out.

Let’s start with the series overall. Big picture, I enjoyed this series and having loved Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” series, I went in with high expectations. This is a big departure to “Old Man’s War.” We go from a very masculine feeling, technology-driven, military fiction to a space opera filled with palace intrigue and dominated by female characters. Overall, I think it works, but it is blemished throughout by a great deal of narration and downright blatant ‘splaining and tellin'. At the series level, I enjoyed the overarching plot, this ‘space flow’ that allowed humanity to create a connected series of habitats that become tightly interdependent. A sort of feudal system arises not altogether different from the houses in “Dune.” The best parts are the big sci-fi ideas and the action, it’s just those things are a little too far and in between for my tastes. Don’t get me wrong, I still rate the overall series a solid four stars – it’s just I have these “Old Man War” expectations.

So lets focus in on this third book in the series – “The Last Emperox.” We left off in book two with a bit of a cliffhanger and this book kicks off with a prologue that both explains the current events and partially recaps components of books one and two. Then we march off on 175 pages of palace intrigue drudgery. Well, it’s not all dull, there are a couple of key events that happened quickly, and it’s peppered with flashes of Scalzi’s wit, which helps, but we hear about so much of the story from the narrator, that it was often a slow read for me. All of the setup does pay off with some excellent twists and turns in the last hundred pages. The ended wraps up some aspects of the series but leaves plenty of space for continued works in the series. IMHO, Scalzi did a great job creating some complex characters and an intriguing overarching epic story but fell down a little in the storytelling. I wanted to see much more of the story through the actions and dialog of the characters instead of hearing about it second hand from the narrator (although that’s not unusual in an epic space opera).

In this series, I enjoyed the big sci-fi ideas (space flow, memory room, etc.) and the setting of series of remote habitats all dependent on each other. And the ‘flow’ gives the interesting dichotomy of a 1700’s naval shipping setting complete with pirates and royalty, cast against a technologically advanced spacefaring universe. A solid space opera absolutely chocked full of palace intrigue that entertains with strong characters and a cool setting, despite an overdependence on narrative storytelling. Four stars for the series and three and a half stars for book three, rounded up.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,966 followers
April 16, 2020
Well now!

This was a delight to read. So much tongue-in-cheek science snark, world-wise politics, and a tale that welcomes, or at least braces-for, the end of the empire. Yes, all these colonies and habitats rely on each other to survive. Yes, the space network is dying, and soon they'll all be cut off from each other. Yes, it's now the time to scrabble and cash out and wait for the inevitable, horrible collapse.

Wait... are we talking about Space-Opera, or just ourselves?

Damn, I love this snark. The tale still manages to be light, somewhat hopeful, full of main-character-is-science, and a cute love story that I could get behind. And the end? Sheesh!

Scalzi is slamming it down for us, showing us his cards. I had so much fun!
Profile Image for Philip.
500 reviews672 followers
May 7, 2020
4.5ish stars.

Such a satisfying conclusion. I love the amount of snark that Scalzi has included in the series and the final line of this final installment makes the journey completely worth it.

I think Scalzi writes characters very well. The heroic trio of Cardenia, Marce, and Kiva are entertaining and sympathetic in very different ways. Cardenia, especially, fully comes into her own in this book and I completely catch her vision and trust her capability. In the previous installments, I had a hard time "finding" her as a character. Either because she seemed distant, or inscrutable, or simply vanilla. I think it speaks to Scalzi's talent that he's allowed us to witness her gradually find herself and become a nuanced woman in addition to the leader of an empire.

Then of course there's Nadashe who is such a enjoyably despicable villain. She's so awful, but she's so good at it. She has no redeeming qualities, but she almost does, which makes it almost possible to relate to her, or to trust that she has the Interdependency's best interests at heart. She's so loathsome that, despite how frustrating it is whenever she continues her plotting, it's always gratifying to fantasize about her hypothetical demise.

Overall I think the ending was handled very well, I loved the trilogy, and Scalzi has further cemented himself as one of my favorite authors.

An interesting note:
There are some layers that have become even more relevant since the onset of COVID-19 and the way different governments have responded to it. In an interview with NPR, Scalzi responded to the unintentional timeliness:
"...as we have gone along, so many things in the books just sort of match up in parallel with what's going on in the world. And some of that was completely unintentional, it was just the pace of the story. But some of it was. I live in the world. Science fiction is written about the future, but it takes place — you know, the people who write it live now. So it is almost axiomatic that what's happening in the world now is going to affect how the stories get told."

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library
Profile Image for Kevin Kelsey.
405 reviews2,198 followers
August 24, 2020
Kind of fizzled and let out an unsatisfying *poof* like a malfunctioning firework. It's Scalzi so it was still fun and a joy to read, but this conclusion didn't really do much for me, especially after the brilliance of The Consuming Fire.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,199 reviews2,583 followers
April 17, 2020
*** 4.75 ***

"... “As far as Kiva could tell, whenever selfish humans encountered a wrenching, life-altering crisis, they embarked on a journey of five distinct stages: Denial. Denial. Denial. Fucking Denial. Oh shit everything is terrible grab what you can and run.”..."

Loved this series! A pleasure to read and a pleasure to listen to!!! THe last book in the trilogy was probably the most balanced and fun one to read. Yes, it had some issues, but it kept me happy during this quarantine, so it is totally worth the 5 stars:)

"...“It’s the end of civilization as we know it. And it’s going to be great for business.”
― John Scalzi, The Last
Profile Image for Gary.
442 reviews185 followers
April 14, 2020
3.5 Stars
Through no fault of its own, The Last Emperox couldn’t have arrived at a better time. John Scalzi’s novels are uniformly brief and briskly paced, with rapid fire action and dialogue—in other words, ready-made for binge reading. And with the current coronavirus pandemic forcing people to spend most of their free time at home, that’s what many people are doing. Haven’t read the first two books in Scalzi’s Interdependency trilogy? Each can be gobbled up in a single sitting while you hunker down for the evening, then you can slide right into the freshly printed one by day three. The series is also thematically timely; civilization coming apart at the seams through neglect, short-sightedness and inaction in the face of an unforeseen cataclysm sound familiar? Though completed months prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, alarming echoes of current day events reverberate from the pages of The Last Emperox. It’s a not uncommon trait in science fiction, nor is it surprising coming from this science fiction author, who has managed to keep his finger on today’s pulse for much of his writing career.
For those unfamiliar with the premise of The Interdependency, it is set fifteen centuries into our future in an empire spanning multiple star systems. All these systems, save one, are incapable of supporting human life on their own, so each depends on the whole to survive. The whole is, not unexpectedly, ruled by a small cadre of wealthy elites whose families control all commerce between systems. Intersystem commerce is only made possible by traversing the Flow, naturally occurring streams that cheat the otherwise untenable distances of time and space. Discovery of the impending collapse of the entire system of Flow streams is therefore a civilization-ending disaster.
I found the opening volume of the trilogy (The Collapsing Empire) entertaining, if uneven; too reliant on long passages of exposition, overly plot-centered and heavy on oration. The abrupt ending was also jarring, coming right as the story was picking up steam. This was likely intentional—a feature of its being intended not as a standalone but as the first third of a complete story—but I still found it lacking. I thought the first sequel (The Consuming Fire) was a little more comfortable in its own skin and possessed of a much more satisfying (if only temporary) outcome. The Last Emperox is perhaps the most neatly balanced of the three volumes, a harmonious convergence of well-oiled plot machine, smart-alecky dialogue and fully rounded characters.
The ostensible hero of the story is Cardenia Wu-Patrick, also known as Emperox Grayland II, the reluctant leader of the Interdependency in this time of unfathomable crisis. When The Last Emperox begins, Grayland II has just survived another deposition plot (following a prior assassination plot) only to find myriad others sprouting up hydra-like in their place. None of this bodes well for her and her scientist-lover Marce Claremont’s goal of figuring out how to transport the entirety of Human civilization to a single planet that has neither the room nor the resources to handle a sudden, massive influx of migration. Grayland is also aided by shrewd, potty-mouthed Lady Kiva Lagos, tasked with unraveling the various plots against the Emperox, as well as the artificial construct known as the Memory Room, which houses facsimiles of all the previous Emperox. This is where Scalzi’s grand design engages with current events: questions of having the leadership qualities necessary to mitigate a catastrophe are front and center, of the willingness of the few to sacrifice the many for personal gain, of the wisdom (or lack thereof) in concentrating power in the hands of those few to begin with, allow Scalzi to flex his philosophical and political muscles with his customary piquancy.
But if The Last Emperox represents the culmination of the trilogy’s strengths, so too do its faults climax. Taking its cue from Marvel, Star Wars, and most other blockbuster franchises, Scalzi’s Interdependency espouses an axiomatic neoliberal worldview, one in which the predations of the greedy elite class can only be countered by putting our faith in other, more benevolent ruling elites and the martial forces they command. This strategy can acknowledge class struggle while discreetly tip-toeing around it, since (according to this philosophy) the unwashed masses have no other legitimate recourse for bettering their condition than to hope someone rich and powerful will handle it for them. It is even more frustrating that this novel both acknowledges and shrugs at this position in the same breath.
Reservations aside, I still enjoy a good blockbuster as much as the next person. So shelter in place, microwave some popcorn and have a rollicking good time with one of the more appealing sci-fi writers of his generation.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Tor Books for the opportunity to read this ARC.
Profile Image for Shaun Hutchinson.
Author 25 books4,635 followers
April 19, 2020
I mean, this book wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. The concept was wonderful, and there were some fun characters, but it felt like a summary of a book rather than a book—all tell, no show. Plus, it leaves the most interesting aspects completely and utterly unresolved. Meh.
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 58 books8,110 followers
April 23, 2020
Last in the trilogy about a civilisation on the brink of collapse because the changing environment is about to make human life unsupportable for all but an elite few oh my god I thought this was meant to be fiction.

Ahem. Obviously there are a lot of resonances here, and the story isn't told subtly (greedy monopolist capitalists trying to save themselves and sod the majority of humanity). But it does have the wonderful fantasy element of a couple of those capitalists actually having consciences and wanting to make things better. It's rollickingly told, with three strong female leads (two heroes, one villain) and an enjoyable central f/f relationship, and a huge amount of swearing. Good genre fun and highly uplifting for a book about imminent doom.
Profile Image for Raquel Estebaran.
293 reviews174 followers
December 8, 2021
Última novela que me quedaba por leer de Scalzi, por desgracia (al menos en español), y que le da un digno final a la trilogía.

A ver si traducen más, que me lo paso pipa con las novelas de este señor.
Profile Image for Xabi1990.
1,971 reviews849 followers
January 8, 2022
Mecagontó…que esta reseña ya la había escrito!!!
Al lío. Que está bien y que echo de menos las 3,5 estrellas. Le dejo en tres porque me gustaron más los otros y, sobre todo, otros muchos del autor que tengo con 4 estrellas.

Siguen las intrigas inter-familiares con trasfondo de desastre galáctico al irse anulando los “agujeros de gusano” (aquí llamado “Flujo”) que conectan los distintos asentamientos donde viven los habitantes de este Imperio galáctico separado por muchísimos años luz pero accesible gracias a este Flujo.

Y ahí andan peleando la Emperox y distintas familias nobles con poder fáctico dentro de este imperio. Siento decir que nada nuevo después de los dos anteriores. Es continuista 100%.

Lo mejor son los personajes femeninos. De hecho TODOS los personajes son femeninos. Hay un tío por ahí que pinta menos que Maximino en Haro. Vamos, que está de adorno en este caso científico (que no florero). Y los diálogos, por supuesto, son marca de la casa Scalzi. Divertidos, chisposos, con las señorita Kiva Lagos como gran amenizadora de la fiesta.

El final… no sé qué deciros, no tengo claro si termina como trilogía o va a seguir estirando el chicle. Quedan algunos flecos que creo que no están resueltos, pero bien podría haberlo terminado. Por mí que lo haya hecho.

Y tras leer lo que he escrito me alegro de haberlo dejado en tres estrellas. ¿Qué me ha penalizado el haber leído justo antes el segundo-para refrescar- y que era demasiado politiqueo? Pues puede ser.

Una vez más y a pesar de repetirme creo que 100.000 veces: ¡joder, autores, que metáis de una puta vez un resumen de lo que pasó antes al comienzo de los nuevos libros de la saga!.

¿Creéis que gente que lee más de 50 libros al año puede retener todos los personajes y argumentos de todas las sagas cuando los libros salen cada dos o tres años? Pues yo no puedo y no me considero flojo mental. Que ya se que vosotros tenéis VUESTRO universo en la cabeza porque estáis todo el día con él, pero nosotros, sufridos lectores, no tenemos por qué tener los personajes y hechos de las docenas de sagas que tenemos a medias. O sacad libros individuales, coño, que ya vale lo de estirar chicles.

Perdón por la salida de tono, pero ya veis que ando quemadillo con el tema. Y ahora sigo con el de Gellida (Consumatum est), que a estas alturas ya voy por el 40% y va camino de 3 míseras estrellas (¡la que me va a caer….)
Profile Image for Peter Tillman.
3,630 reviews325 followers
June 5, 2021
Opening line:
"The funny thing was, Ghreni Nohamapetan, the acting Duke of End, actually saw the surface-to-air missile that slammed into his aircar a second before it hit."

Still in the prologue, the acting Duke (somehow) survives, and visits with his prisoner Jamies, Count Claremont. Ghreni had framed Claremont for an assassination, and thus made his daughter into a *very* effective enemy rebel.

“I just need someone to talk to,” Ghreni said, suddenly.
Jamies looked over toward the (acting) duke. “I beg your pardon?”
“You asked why I keep visiting you,” Ghreni said. “I need someone to talk to.”
“Maybe you should just get a therapist.”
“I don’t need a therapist.”
“I’d get a second opinion on that if I were you.”

OK, I have more notes & stuff, but basically: Scalzi makes me laugh. A dozen (at least) LOL moments, most involving that fucking Kiva Lagos! Or Kiva Lagos fucking. Or both! (Pillow talk with her new steady: "You asshole!") That's her new GF, actually.... And the romance between wossisname, the Flow physicist and the young Emperox is sweet. Her proposal!

Or Kiva's Mom, after Kiva mysteriously disappears:
The Countess Lagos gave Marce [the Emperox's BF] an indulgent look. “Lord Marce, remind me. Are you the pleasant young man my daughter used as a fuck toy on her journey from End to Hub?”
“I . . . wouldn’t have put it that way, but yes, my lady.”

And I'm slowing down, because -- when it's over, it's over! Oh No!!

Holy shit! It's done. Scalzi knocked it out of the ballpark, again! Wow. Kiva Lagos! Happy ending! (sort of). True love finds a way! The biters badly bit. 6 stars!!

2021 reread: still top-notch, though the Flow-physics bafflegab was even less convincing this time. But no worse than every other rubber-science FTL drive, and it is a novelty. The science geekery is nicely done.
Publisher's weekly gave volume 3 a starred review: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-...
They liked it a lot:
"Hugo Award–winner Scalzi knocks it out of the park with the tightly plotted, deeply satisfying conclusion to his Interdependency Sequence space opera trilogy (after The Consuming Fire)."

As you can imagine, author Scalzi was pleased with this review -- I saw it at his blog.
Many thanks to Netgalley & Tor, who came through with an E-ARC! Woot!
Profile Image for Kirby.
38 reviews3 followers
April 17, 2020
I was hoping the disappointing second novel in this trilogy was merely the usual "middle part"-syndrome… but sadly, I was even more disappointed with the "conclusion". I hesitate to call it such, because it feels unearned and rushed and doesn't even conclude much…

The first book had interesting characters and took time to develop a plot. The latter two just… meandered here and there, only to have the final chapter quickly resolve a few things (poorly), and leave the big things pending.

Guess that'll be my last Scalzi for a while.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,034 reviews1,421 followers
May 17, 2021
Actual rating 4.5/5 stars.

The Interdependency is a space empire spanning innumerable light years and travel between each human colony is viable via the Flow. The Flow runs like a river through space and allows the spaceships that enter it to travel at a speed faster than light and across the vast universe in months or years rather than centuries and multiple lifetimes. However, just like a river, the Flow is changing course and millions of lives might be lost in space if this occurs.

The end of this futuristic civilisation, which has been steadily approaching over the previous two books, has now come but Emperox Grayland II has another end to contend with - her own. Numerous assassination attempts have been made towards her, as well as to those she is closest to, and in order to save the lives of the billions spread across the interdependency she must first control the wealthy elite who plan to take hers.

This book impressed me just as much as the previous two. I found the scientific focus to be just as dense but also just as interesting and I especially loved getting an insight to physicist Marce's perspective as he worked in tracking, exploring, and perhaps even controlling the Flow. Many twists occurred along the way and I remained unsure throughout concerning the future, or lack of one, for the human race as well as for exactly this series would conclude.

Kiva was another character I appreciated the inclusion of. She was as smart as she was sassy and as saucy as she was snarky, which all combined to ensure her both a hilarious and cunning inclusion to this series. In fact, every character included here brought an unique voice and a different element to this space opera. This ensured the recognisable face of humanity was presented no matter the distance in both time and space that separated the reader from this proposed future of our species.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, John Scalzi, and the publisher, Tor Books, for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Krista D..
Author 71 books299 followers
May 10, 2020
I *really* hated the ending. Like, it ruined the entire series hated it and wished I'd not even bothered to read it because that's how much I hated it.

*That* is how much I hated the last hour of this.
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,734 reviews648 followers
August 24, 2021
“Deran shook his head. “No. Cash on the barrelhead from now on. For everything.”
“That’s crazy,” Belment said.
“It’s not crazy. It’s the end of civilization as we know it; we don’t have time to collect on installment plans.”
“That’s showing our hand,” Proster observed.
“The point is to show our hand,” Deran said. “If they think we don’t think there’s time for installment plans, they’re going to prioritize the short term, too. They have the money; they just have to decide they need to give it to us, first.” He looked over to Lina Wu-Gertz. “And if they think civilization is ending and money is going to be worthless anyway, they’re not going to mind as much giving it away. They’ll think they’re getting one over on us.”
Proster nodded. “So we build ships and arms now—”
“While it’s still cheap and easy, because as more Flow streams collapse, it will be more expensive to get materiel, and harder to source as well,” Deran interjected.
“—and take as much as we can get up front, and then as the Flow streams collapse, move our base of operations to End, where the money will still have value and the remainder of civilization will still need arms and spaceships.”
“That’s the plan,” Deran said. “Basically. Broad strokes.”
Proster nodded, and then looked down the table, where there were other nods, even from Belment and Tiegan. Then he looked back at Deran. “Looks like you’re right: the end of civilization is going to be good for business,” he said.”

“The Flow” is changing and that will affect everything in this corner of the Universe or as John Scalzi describes the tension in this third (and final) book in this series:

"“Let’s not pretend that you don’t know my past sins, or that I’m not aware that you know about them. Time is short and we don’t have the luxury of polite whispers. I am a murderer, a would-be assassin, and a traitor to the emperox. And with your help, I will be all these things again.”"
"“Then let us be clear, Admiral Hurnen, General Bren,” Grayland (the current Emperox) said, fixing both with her eyes as she said their names. “We have no intention of leaving End to the Nohamapetans. They are a threat to the current citizens of the planet, and they are a threat to anyone who flees there for refuge. Those refugees are already on their way, Admiral. There will be many more before all this is done. If this is possible, then we will have it done, difficult or not.”"

How do I love John Scalzi? Let me enumerate a bit:
He has an imagination that regularly reels me in;
He can juggle multiple plot lines;
He has a wry and satisfying way with dialogue;
He is a master of “world-building;” and,
He can make me laugh while his world(s) is going to pieces.

There is a lot of opportunity to “read into” this novel. Certainly, it isn’t much of a stretch to see parallels between the natural catastrophe of “the collapse” and the natural catastrophe of our own climate crisis. This book has some of his best conceived villainy rants and crazy schemes. So many characters in this series are larger than life. But can you have so many sociopaths/extreme capitalists in the same story and still make it seem real? I guess I should check my recent American history.

To recap, this book is not a “read alone.” You must have subjected yourself to the first two: The Collapsing Empire and The Consuming Fire. If you did so, you were impatient imagining how Scalzi would bring this epic to conclusion. Scalzi admits that he had difficulty moving this forward during our pandemic. Was the conclusion as presented consistent with the journey?

The further I burrow into this book, the more I see it as a modern Gulliver’s Travels or Through the Looking Glass. Scalzi’s attempt at commentary on our current society and cultures is there. Is it successful? Maybe not, but part of that may be that it wasn’t what his fans thought that they were going to be getting. My rating is may not be typical but it reflects a Robert Browning-ish viewpoint: “…Ah but, a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” 3.5*

Here are some quotations that illuminate aspects of this review. I am not going to delete Scalzi's expletives, since those are part and parcel of his characters and they will accurately convey the style he adopted in this series. Read at your own risk.

"Of course, if one wanted to genuinely understand what the over-under line for “we’re all genuinely and truly fucked” was, one ought not look at what the lower classes of the Interdependency were doing, but rather, what their banks were doing. And what the banks were doing, as quietly as possible and without raising too much of a fuss about it, was restructuring their financial services and vehicles to maximize short-term profits and minimize long-term financial risk and exposure. Which on one hand was entirely prudent, from a fiscal and fiduciary point of view."

"“Then why are we trying?” Cardenia asked him. Marce thought about it a moment. “I’ve been thinking a lot about the scientists who set off the Rupture,” he said. “About what they were thinking when they thought it up. About what they were thinking when they built it and then set it off. And what they thought after it all started coming down around them, because of the thing they did. You know?”
“I do.”
“I have a chance to help set things right. Not a good chance, I know. A really small chance. One in a million, maybe. It’s almost not worth it. But the alternative is to do nothing. It’s to let the failures of those long-ago scientists keep deciding our fate. If we fail, it’s not because we did nothing, Cardenia. We went down fighting. We went down trying to save everyone.”"

"Grayland’s meeting with Commander Wen was followed immediately by a brief tea with Archbishop Korbijn, which Grayland enjoyed so much that she allowed it to run on an additional five minutes beyond its allotted fifteen."

"It wasn’t that he was wrong, it’s just that Cardenia wasn’t wrong either, and she was probably more not wrong than he was. He was a scientist and frankly not the most astute observer of the human situation. He would never abuse the Rupture data like that and couldn’t imagine any of the scientists that he would work with would, either. They were busy trying to save the universe, after all. But he had in the moment forgotten that Cardenia was also Grayland, and what she had to deal with on a daily basis: the grinding opportunism and political maneuvering of the world she inhabited; the number of people who wanted something from her or would be happy to take something from her; the depressing reality of knowing that there were people—forget people, entire conspiracies of people—who would think nothing of killing Grayland to get her out of the way of their own selfish goals."

"“My point is this, Kiva: It’s time to put our differences aside. It’s time to do business.”
“All right,” Kiva said. “Let’s hear the business.”
“Here it is: I want your support. I want your house’s support.”
“I’m not my house. You’ll have to talk to my mother about that.”
“I did. One of my representatives did, anyway.”
“Yeah? How did that go?”
“She said that we could all fuck ourselves with a rented dick. The same rented dick.”
“That’s my mom,” Kiva said."
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,030 reviews2,604 followers
June 1, 2020
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2020/06/01/...

The Last Emperox is the final installment of John Scalzi’s The Interdependency trilogy, and boy is there a lot to unpack here. But first, picking up where the last book left off, as predicted by scientific models, the collapse of the Flow is now imminent. Entire systems are about to be cut off and snuffed out, putting billions of lives in danger. And yet, politicians are gonna politick and profiteers are gonna profiteer, and no one has been affected by this than Emperox Grayland II, who has already faced opposition from her detractors and foiled an attempt on her life.

But unfortunately, what we’ve seen is only the beginning, and with the Nohamapetans out there still scheming, it’s not a matter of if another assassination attempt will come, but a matter of when. Still, Grayland knows she must see to the plight of her people, whose hopes now lie at End, the only planet with the conditions and renewable resources capable of sustaining human life. That said, transporting the innumerable masses of the Interdependency to this far-flung, modestly sized world is not a realistic solution either, and with all the great house jostling to secure their own chances of survival, the situation is rife for corruption and treachery.

So in a way, my feelings for this book reminded me of how I felt the first time after watching The Last Jedi. I walked out of that theater thinking the film was awesome—it was exciting, funny, full of action and surprises. But it was also a feeling that didn’t last very long. Given enough time to mull things over, especially on the drive home in slow traffic, I started to see a lot of things that didn’t quite make sense. The plotting was seriously flawed. A few characters were given the short end of the stick. Questionable decisions upon questionable decisions. Point is, entertaining as the movie was, a lot of it fails to stand up to close scrutiny once you get a chance to really think about it, and I think I had much the same reaction to The Last Emperox. After sleeping on it, I decided there were a few things that prevented me from giving this one a higher rating.

Since I’m big on characters, I’ll start with them first. I’ve been a fan of John Scalzi for a long time, mainly because he writes such fun, light and fluffy books. While he’s upped his story game in recent years, sadly his character game has remained stagnant, and even gone down in some cases. In this book, for example, when it comes to powerful human emotions like love and grief, Scalzi either glosses them over or completely avoids addressing them all together. How many times after a major turning point event do we simply get some lengthy exposition or impersonal news report-like passages that merely spit out what the characters are doing and thinking? It’s frustrating as hell and only served to widen my disconnect with the characters.

The premise also fell a bit flat, probably because the delivery itself felt so half-hearted. The characters in the book spend an inordinate amount of time espousing the value of computer models and data, but as recent events have shown, models are useless if your methods are flawed, and how do you come up with good methods when there is a total lack of fundamental understanding? For the protagonists of this series though, all the issues are pretty cut and dry, which dulls the gravity of the situation and the excitement of the story somewhat. Again, Scalzi glosses over the problem, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised that when the solution came, it was likewise treated with less care than it deserved. Now, I didn’t hate the ending, but the more I thought about it, the more holes I was able to poke in it, and thus the more dissatisfied I became. I’m not going to give away the spoilery details here, but can you say deus ex machina?

Still, I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t enjoy The Last Emperox, because I did—albeit on a very surface-level kind of way. It was also better than the last book, but nowhere near as good as some of my favorites by the author. Even the humor, which is usually his forte, felt a bit forced, and I see that the old trick of relying on Kiva Lagos’ profanity-laced dialogue for a few cheap laughs is still in play. Scalzi seemed to have rushed through this one without giving much thought to developing the characters or story, and as a reader and longtime fan who knows he’s capable of so much better, I’m just slightly disappointed. These doubts aside though, The Interdependency trilogy served up some decent entertainment overall, and while maybe The Last Emperox wasn’t the best concluding volume I could hope for, it still offered a solid finale.

Audiobook Comments: It’s been a while since I’ve listened to a book narrated by Wil Wheaton, and wow, what a difference from his older stuff! He actually attempts accents now! And varies the tone and timbre of his voices! That said though, while I’m aware Scalzi’s books and Wheaton’s narration often go hand in hand, with all the major characters—the best characters—being women, I still think this series would have been a better audio experience with a female narrator. But overall, a good listen.

Profile Image for Greg.
185 reviews1 follower
April 17, 2020
Underwhelming and abrupt conclusion
Profile Image for David O'Brien.
55 reviews1 follower
April 17, 2020
Very disappointing and weak finale to this promising series. When I was 70% of my way through this relatively short novel I realised that the resolution would be brief and pretty miraculous, given the time left. It was both very brief and ridiculously miraculous. Lazy even. I had the distinct impression that Scalzi was tired of this story and needed to end it quickly. It was all too neat, too black and white, too 'goodies and baddies', emotionally weak and shallow, like a typically bad American film, too much like pandering to a low-brow market. What a shame, could've been a great story, glad it's over.
Profile Image for Milda Page Runner.
300 reviews234 followers
July 31, 2020
3.5* rounded down.
Rushed ending. Main characters get a satisfying closure to their personal stories, but on a bigger scale - a lot is left unanswered. My main dissapointment is that we don't get to see the actual collapse of the empire: Did Marce's theory work? Did Flow behave as predicted? Did they save billions of people? What happened to the End? How did Guilds cope with new regime/goverment?
Another issue I had was the same as in the second book: there is a lot of recaping past events, re-introducing characters. It's probably fine if you are reading books with a year+ gap in between and forgotten most of events. For me it just felt unnecessary repetitive.
That said - it's still Scalzi - I bet he could make his shopping list amusing. I had fun.
Profile Image for Mike.
483 reviews375 followers
July 15, 2020
This book was a nice conclusion to the series with all the snark, plot twists, and revelations one comes to expect in a Scalzi work. Scalzi made some pretty ballsy decisions with the story that certainly threw me for a loop and I am glad he didn't try to wrap up everything in a nice bow where everything is perfect for the good guys at the end. He very much follows through with the enormity and challenges the Interdependency faces and leaves open more potential stories if he ever wants to revisit this universe. Like some of his other works the ending comes pretty abruptly with many off page behind the scene maneuvers popping up to resolve various plot lines. Not my favorite way to end a story/series but the overall read was enjoyable and easy to consume.
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
724 reviews1,205 followers
August 5, 2022
Check out my Booktube channel at: The Obsessive Bookseller

Considering the book didn’t actually start until 75% in, I think a 2 star rating quite generous.

Coming off the amazing, fast-paced whirlwind that was Consuming Fire, I launched into Last Emperox braced for a killer finale! Then slowly, chapter by slogging chapter, I realized the best bits of the series were probably behind me.

The first third of the novel was an extensive recap of what had happened in the series to that point. Albeit dressed up as character introspection where we worked to solidify their personal convictions. But during this time no actual plot advancement made an appearance.

The middle third of the book took all of that recap and turned it into character reflection. Where we sat around and analyzed what had happened in the first two books and agreed that yes, we need to stick to our plans. One good solid point of plot-advancing happened here, and it was enough to keep me reading, but only just.

Then finally, within the last 50 pages of the book, things came together and we discovered what we’d been working towards this entire series. It was a good ending. Perhaps even a satisfying one in some ways. But the drainage of any iota of momentum by way of totally excessive empty word count had me putting down the story wishing I’d felt as I’d had after finishing book 2.

Based on the number of plot-advancing points in this final book, I think the series would’ve been much stronger written as a duology. It only would’ve needed to add a few of the good chapters from book 3 to the end of book 2, and for me it would’ve been much more successful. At the moment I’m sitting on a $25 hardcover of the third book feeling a little like I’ve been swindled (good thing I got it on a good sale).

I suppose if you just loved the characters a lot more than I did, you may have relished in the downtime spent in retrospect with them. At this point in the series, I was looking for momentum, action, and excitement. So you can see why I disconnected. In any case, it clearly wasn’t what I wanted it to be.

It’s a good thing this was a quick read.

Recommendation: this final book had a lot of filler content that almost killed the series for me. However, because the second book was so good, and the effort it took to get through to the grand finale of the series was relatively minimal (I read it in two days), I’d still recommend the trilogy as a whole for a fun, light Scifi read.

Thank you to my Patrons: Filipe, Dave, Frank, Sonja, Staci, Kat, and Katrin! <3

Other books you might like:
Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1) by John Scalzi Planetside (Planetside #1) by Michael Mammay All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1) by Martha Wells Children of Time (Children of Time, #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, #1) by James S.A. Corey

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com
Profile Image for Metodi Markov.
1,304 reviews298 followers
December 29, 2022
В послеслова след края на тази последна част Скалзи сам си признава, че е имал срок за завършване и че едва е успял да го спази. А на мен ми се иска да уважава повече читателите си, на които дължи много!

Трилогията е лениво и посредствено списана, а това е доста жалко, защото историята и героите ѝ определено имат потенциал. Краят също е незадовлителен и претупан. :(

Направо не мога да повярвам, че из под същата писалка са излези историите за "Войната на старците", които естествено са зарязани недоиздадени от "Бард" още преди години.

P.S. Ако не бяха ми подарили третата част, сигурно нямаше да дочета тази поредица, без да изгубя кой знай какво.

Издателство "Бард" продължават да бутат пълнеж в тази превърнала се в класика книжна серия, което е много жалко.
Profile Image for Tanabrus.
1,840 reviews160 followers
August 14, 2022
Ho trovato questo terzo libro della serie lento, abbastanza prevedibile e in parte noioso. Un po' come tutta la trilogia, ma ammetto di aver sperato in qualcosa di più per il finale.

Invece, potrei ai difetti che già si erano visti negli altri libri, abbiamo avuto anche la gioia di assistere a decisioni abbastanza sbagliate e assurde da parte di svariati personaggi. Senza contare la scelta finale dell'Emperox, che ho trovato francamente un picco di nonsense.

Però quella stessa scelta, assieme alla sorpresa della camera della memoria, sono riuscite a stupirmi portando qualcosa che non immaginavo, e portando alla sufficienza il giudizio del libro.

Peccato, speravo molto molto di più da questa serie.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,045 reviews3,441 followers
August 19, 2022
The Last Emperox is a very solid conclusion to this sci-fi trilogy. It has twists, entertains you, and provides quite a satisfying conclusion. Personally I like the first book the best (because it focuses more on developing specific characters) and thought the second book was the weakest. But this was a good conclusion and I think as a series, it's very accessible, soapy sci-fi that is fast-paced and perfect for anyone intimidated by the genre.
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,052 reviews526 followers
May 15, 2020
The great thing about a paperback is you can throw it if it annoys you (yes, I know this is a horrific scenario for those ‘book nazis’ who patrol library shelves for bent spines or dog-eared pages.) This is a tad more problematic with a tablet or a Kindle. Suffice it to say I had to fight this overwhelming urge about two thirds of the way through The Last Emperox.

There I was reading, with the thought lurking in the back of my mind that nothing was really happening, when was the story going to kick in, and what a disappointing conclusion this seemed to be to the Interdependency trilogy, when – abruptly and unexpectedly – Scalzi pulled the rug out from under me.

I actually had to read the offending page about three times for its appalling meaning to sink in. And then I gently put my tablet down. Did I just read two-and-a-half books in a trilogy for Scalzi to pull a cheapo stunt like that? But was it a low blow or a careful recalibration of the reader’s investment in Scalzi’s story and characters?

I defy anyone who has read these books to tell me they had a different reaction at this point. Should I continue reading or give up in disgust (at being manipulated so easily), I darkly thought. It is indeed a balancing act for a writer, because you risk alienating your audience if you tip the apple cart too far. Readers are creatures of comfort, after all.

Eventual disbelief won me over. I just had to continue reading because there was no way Scalzi could let that plot point slide … This was followed quickly by dismay that Scalzi was, indeed, being serious …

Fortunately, the story ratchets up a notch or two from then on. It builds inexorably to a double whammy of a conclusion (not to mention some of the funniest and drollest lines of dialogue in the entire trilogy, which is saying quite a lot given just how funny and sassy this trilogy fundamentally is. Scalzi, if anything else, really enjoys throwing shade!)

Wow. This trilogy has been a textbook example of keeping readers entertained, as well as offering a thoughtful (if unintended) commentary on the madness prevailing in the world. Scalzi remarks on this in his Acknowledgements, pointing out that the book was completed in late 2019, way behind deadline (as per usual, to much gnashing of teeth by his editorial team) and that any coincidences with reality are, well, entirely coincidental.

But writers like Scalzi are intuitively aware of the prevailing zeitgeist, I think, and always manage to tap into it like a lodestone. I honestly believe that, in terms of defining global events or paradigm shifts, SF is the one genre that is the most flexible and resilient in responding to what is happening around us. And it is the hippest and most fun genre as well. As Kiva would say: “Fuck yeah!”
Profile Image for Eric Allen.
Author 3 books732 followers
April 15, 2020
A great end to a great series.

Honestly, I expected the series to go on more than three books. The way the first two books were structured made it seem like they were only the beginning of a huge space epic that would span half a dozen volumes or more. I didn't see how the story could possibly be all tied up in just one more book, and the shortest of the trilogy at that. This book does not go at all in the direction I expected, and it keeps running as far and as fast away from expectation as it can. I honestly had no idea where it was going, or how it was going to end, right up until everything started falling into place in the last couple of chapters. I had a lot of fun with the dialog, the characters, and Scalzi's sense of humor, which is on full display here. Would that the real world's similar problems could be tied up in such a neat little bow.
Profile Image for Melindam.
631 reviews274 followers
February 2, 2021
Still 3,5 stars

These books are far from perfect, but still provided a wild, entertaining ride . I am equally impressed and sad about the ending.
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