Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bones Of Empire - William C. Dietz


Bones Of Empire
William C. Dietz
Ace

Science Fiction

This is a sequel to AT EMPIRE’S END, but it’s not at all necessary to have read the first book to enjoy this one. The author does a great job of hitting the highlights of what has come before while still telling an engaging story.

Jak Cato is a Xeno Corps officer on a mission. Since the events of the previous novel, he and his slave/partner Alamy have returned to the planet Corin, the capital of the Uman Empire. Legate Isulu Usurlus is back in the capital as well, and ready for some political advancement. He has a difficult time, however, since the Emperor has been acting very out-of-character lately. He’s become reclusive and refuses to discuss pressing matters or see visitors for weeks at a time. He can’t avoid being on display during a celebratory parade, though, and that’s when Cato spots the imposter.

Like all Xeno officers, Cato is bio-engineered to be an empath; a sort of living lie detector. Like his fellow officers, he can also ‘see through’ the efforts of shape shifters. What he sees masquerading as the Emperor is Fiss Verafti, a shape shifter Cato thought he’d taken care of months ago. Clearly, something has to be done. Not only because of day-to-day operations of the Empire, but because another alien race called the Vord have recently taken a planet at the edge of the Empire’s boundaries. It’s obviously the prelude to a war, and the Empire needs an Emperor who can deal with the situation.

All of this barely scratches the surface of the plots and subplots in this novel. I’m always amazed that this author (WHEN DUTY CALLS, latest of the long-running Legion of the Damned series) so skillfully weaves so much into one novel. There’s plenty of action, political intrigue, military maneuvering, the search for the shape shifter, dealings with the Vord, and even the relationship between Cato and Alamy. The plot moves smoothly and swiftly from one plot to another, never getting bogged down, yet never seeming to skimp on detail or motivations. This is science fiction for anyone who enjoys action, politics, and character-driven stories.

Rating: 8 ½
October 2010
ISBN# 978-0-441-07922-9 (hardcover)

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