I approached The Empress by S. J. Kincaid with some trepidation. It is the sequel to The Diabolic, a book that I have been raving about all year. It was one of the few books in my book club that everyone liked, and we all thought it had an intense, perfect ending. And then this summer I received the sequel in the mail. I put it on my shelf for awhile.
Too often a book’s world and characters that I treasure are ruined by subsequent books. It’s impossible to erase from your mind a bad sequel or a series that goes downhill. Many are coming to memory as I type this, but I prefer to focus on the positive. So in this post, I will review The Empress, which did NOT disappoint, and list other sequels that were as good or better than the original. I encourage you to list your own in the comments.
As I mentioned, I let The Empress sit on my shelf for a bit. Would it ruin the fantastic world created in The Diabolic? Check out my review here. Our heroine, Nemesis, is a diabolic. They are genetically-enhanced creatures who are “imprinted” on a sole individual who they will protect until death. This science-fiction world takes place on gargantuan ships in multi-galaxies ruled by an Emperor and the wealthy elite. Nemesis goes far beyond what a diabolic was programmed to do. By the end of The Diabolic, she has redefined herself and challenged the powers that rule the galaxies.
SPOILERS: The second book takes place right after the previous ending. I love that. No “a year later” or anything. We jump right into the action and problems for Nemesis and Tyrus. Tyrus has ascended the throne, but he will have to bribe and/or threaten the Grandiloquey to keep it secure and begin his passion to create a more fair and just empire, reintroducing technology and science. Pasus is waiting for any opportunity to grab power, and he becomes the main villain here. In order for Nemesis to be accepted as Empress, the religious leaders need to declare her officially human.
Nemisis and Tyrus are two teens in love, but they are far from doe-eyed. Trust is hard for both of them, and in a political world where every word can have triple meanings and drugs are used to control and manipulate even the strongest, it is hard for these two to give in to each other completely. They have a few sweet and too-short scenes where they can be the young and passionate souls they are under the protective layers. In the first book, Nemesis learns to embrace her humanity. In The Empress, she has to go beyond her first instincts of solving problems through violence (though there are still plenty of those scenes) and figure out the politics and scheming to help Tyrus secure the throne.
The “Romeo and Juliet” themes and use of poisons and blades came through but did not detract from this original story. I never knew what was going to happen next, and the last quarter of the book had me questioning everyone and everything. Nevani is an absolute stand-out character in this novel. The ending is obviously a set-up for another book, and this time, I can’t wait.
Other sequels that were as good or better than the first:
Fool Moon by Jim Butcher. Yes, you need to read Storm Front first, but just get through it so you can enjoy this series that gets better and better.
The Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling. The first three Harry Potter books were fun kids’ stories, and then the fourth got me obsessed.
First Riders Call by Kristen Britain from The Green Rider series. The first book had me intrigued, but not overwhelmed. It was years later that I picked up the second book on a friend’s bookshelf and I’m so glad I did. The series really took off from there.
Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell is a comic series where the art and storytelling become more and more epic.
Valley of the Horses by Jane Auel is one of my favorite surviving-in-the-wild books. But Clan of the Cave Bear is a must read beforehand to understand the world and main character. Unfortunately, the rest of the series goes downhill from there.
The Source of Magic by Piers Anthony made my 14-year-old mind expand. You don’t have to read the first book in the Xanth series to enjoy this one.
The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb. The characters are freakin’ annoying in the first book, and then the most amazing character development and plot craziness in the second book makes this trilogy one of my favorites.
What sequels do you recommend?
Geekmom received The Empress for review purposes.