It had been years since I read dystopian fiction. There was a period in my distant past when I was obsessed with it. Post Apocalyptic civilizations fascinated my youthful cynicism and I gorged on 1984, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Alas Babylon, everything by Heinlein and Philip K. Dick. This phase lasted on and off through the original Star Trek years, Bladerunner, and Firefly, until I eventually drifted off to noir detectives and steamy bodice rippers. (Hey, I’m a Renaissance gal…I read Richard Feynman, Louis L’Amour and Michael Shaara, too. And soup cans and cereal boxes. But I digress.)
Anyway, after years away from ruined monuments, lost technology, and unreadable runes, I stumbled on a series of books set in a steampunk-ish sort of a world, where the current civilization is caught somewhere between magic and technology, where an ancient people have left dangerous artifacts that keep surfacing to be abused by power hungry organizations looking to overthrow the empire. The emperor is, of course, young and untried. The only thing between him and those lusting for his throne is a band of misfit outlaws, led by a neatfreak female enforcer, assisted by a stoic assassin, a young streetpunk learning the ancient magic sciences, a foppish paid escort, a scarred and silent foreigner, and an alcoholic professor. Lyndsay Buroker’s series, The Emperor’s Edge, caught me wholly in its web. I found myself devouring all seven of her books, plus the novellas and short stories, and waiting for the spinoffs. When she announced there would be an eighth volume, I was delighted.
Unfortunately, Republic left a lot to be desired. Although the previous books were definitely part of a series, a reader could enjoy them as stand alone adventures and still get a good understanding of the distinct personalities of the characters. In Republic, Buroker has given us short shrift, as if she felt that by now she could skip the buildup of character and just launch into the action. This leaves the book feeling flat and the reader less invested in the plights of Sespian, and the rest of the band. This is a real detriment, since we are expected to suffer the pangs of young love, yet are so distant from the characters that we feel little more than mild interest and very little empathy as they slowly (and I do mean slowly) move towards being a couple. All of the storylines feature some kind of challenge to love… will one survive poison, will another overcome selfdoubt, will a third resolve the conflict of career and relationship, will the fourth conquer infertility? Will the secondary characters ever find a date? It could have all been an interesting dissection of love and individuality, but instead it is all rather silly.
The villain in the book is a maneating invasive plant, threatening to take over the city and looking to kill the president. A secret religious sect is trying to use the plant to frighten the populace and take over the government. The president’s teenage daughter is the foremost expert on plant biology. All in all, it just seems to be one dizzy hamster cage.
I was seriously disappointed. I enjoyed the earlier Edge books so much that I could see them as a series developed by Joss Whedon… something like a Firefly on terra firma rather than travelling space. There was enough witty dialog to carry you along, and the people rose off the pages in three dimensions. I could not wait to read what was going to happen next to Amaranthe and Sicarius. This time, I felt like they had all run out of steam. All I can say to you, fellow reader, is go back and read the first seven books of The Emperor’s Edge. Then, if you really miss the characters, and really need a quick refresher, by all means pick up Republic, but do so with lower expectations, and hope that the next go around recaptures some of the missing fire.
In accordance with FTC guidelines for bloggers and endorsements, I would like to clarify that the books reviewed by me are either purchased/borrowed by me, or provided by the publisher/author free of charge. I am neither compensated for my reviews nor are my opinions influenced in any way by the avenues in which I obtain my materials.
- File Size:1895 KB
- Print Length:619 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage:Unlimited
- Sold by:Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Reviewed by Paula Tupper
July 2, 2014