It’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite.
But having power isn’t the same thing as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress.
Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it?
Trigger/content warning: violence, homicide, genocide, psychological abuse using drugs, torture
When I started The Empress, I did not really know what I was getting myself into. I did not know how much pain I was subjecting myself to. This book took Nemesis, AND ME, through a tumultuous emotional journey, and I just had to take time to process it, so that I could write this review. The Empress starts off at the end of Diabolic, with a newly crowned Tyrus hoping to start off his reign with two stunning declarations – that he was restoring scientific studies, and that he was taking a Diabolic as his wife. Cut to The Empress, and you realize that wasn’t as easy as it seems, even in an authoritarian society as the Empire. Randelvald had it easy I think, even with how he was possible the worst. Tyrus has to start his reign with a beggared treasury, half of his Senators in opposition to him, and being separated from the true power the Emperor wields, because the vicars won’t support him.
Nemesis, for her part, is growing to suppress her Diabolic instincts and instead act as if she were an Empress. Not easy for a person who until recently, didn’t even think of herself as a person. She feels like a liability to him, but they love each other too much. In fact, this book kinda convinced me on their love more than Diabolic ever had. Like, during Diabolic, I was slightly invested in Tyrus, but my main interest was in Nemesis’ personal growth. In this – man, I wish I did not have so many feelings.
They both try different measures to circumvent the restrictions to their power, even going far and beyond in space to seek certain truths. All the obstacles they faced had me going, “oh come one, give them an effing break!”
Senator Pasus was a key figure in their turmoil – he was the father of Elantra, in case you don’t remember, and also a big member (I am implying both meanings of the word here) of the Helionic faith. He personally was so responsible for so much of the pain, I was constantly going like – please stop this. But Nemesis’ and Tyrus’ personal choices, and what those choices mean for each other and the Empire also play an important role. While they are both wily and pragmatic, they also have differing instincts. She has always relied on him to make the plans, because he thinks ten steps ahead (that twist in Diabolic – *kisses fingers like an Italian chef*) but when he is incapacitated, she has to figure out how to hold the power for him. There are so much twists, so much betrayal, I had to regularly put down the book because my heart couldn’t take it. This book broke me – like so many before have, but also in a different way. There is inherently nothing noble about their cause, yet I wanted them to have it all. And what did I get? Pain and heartache! Thanks, Kincaid!
This has been an amazing sequel, which went way beyond what Diabolic was. We get blackholes, shifting times, some reveals about the Diabolic generation process, and finally some answers to how this Empire came about. About that ending – even if the book had ended at the penultimate chapter (which wreaked so much havoc on my emotions), I would have accepted that as the end of the series. It was seemingly complete in that chapter, and masochistically, I think that would have made a brilliantly unique ending to the series. The next chapter, however, propels us into more pain and maybe a predictable outcome, and of course I am going to waiting eagerly for the next one.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, via Edelweiss.
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