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Publisher's Summary

Orson Scott Card is a master storyteller who has earned millions of fans and reams of praise for his previous science-fiction and fantasy works. Now he steps a little closer to the present day with this chilling look at a near-future scenario: a new American Civil War.

The American Empire has grown too fast, and the fault lines at home are stressed to the breaking point. The war of words between Right and Left has collapsed into a shooting war, though most people just want to be left alone.

The battle rages between the high-technology weapons on one side and militia foot-soldiers on the other, devastating the cities and overrunning the countryside. But the vast majority, who only want the killing to stop and the nation to return to more peaceful days, have technology, weapons, and strategic geniuses of their own.

When the American dream shatters into violence, who can hold the people and the government together? And which side will you be on?

©2006 Orson Scott Card (P)2006 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC

Critic Reviews

"Couldn't be timelier...heartfelt and sobering....All the action doesn't obscure the author's message about the dangers of extreme political polarization and the need to reassert moderation and mutual citizenship...it drives it home." (Booklist)

What listeners say about Empire: The Empire Duet, Part 1

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Good pace, weak premise

While the pace of this book was engaging, the premise was not. Progressive democrats invading NYC with their own mechanized militia? Then easily footnoted by a few special ops boys? Kind of laughable and, at best, overly simplistic.

I stuck with this book because I kept waiting for a second or third dimension to be revealed - some gritty contradiction perhaps, or actual character development.

The final affront is the afterword in which the author, lacking any real analysis, provides predictable right-ish political commentary. Should have quit while I was ahead.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Poor

I am a big Orson Scott Card fan but this book is almost unrecognizable as his work. The characters are shallow, plot lines are left hanging, and you have to suspend your disbelief so may times it is ridiculous. Despite Card's comments at the end of the book the story mostly comes off as a right-wing rant that seems to be based on watching too much FOX news. The main point that Card misses is that most Americans are very patriotic when push comes to shove and the idea that they would turn against the central government is laughable. Indeed, the idea of attacking government is most closely associated with extreme right-wing groups rather than left-wing groups as Card portrays in this book. Card has many other excellent books to choose from; bypass this dreck.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

An empty, right wing cliche

I am about half-way through this book. Scott Card remains a good story teller, but, in this book, he really lets his right-wing stripes show. The story, which is not terribly compelling, is simply a vehicle for his rant. In and of itself,I would be OK with that, if the rant had anything intelligent or original to say. While followers of Rush Limbaugh and the like may really enjoy it, the rest of us get really bored of the tired cliche of the anti-military, anti-american left. I am a big fan of Orson Scott Card and have read many of his books, but this book is a dud. If Card was channeling "State of Fear" with "Empire," he succeeded.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Entertaining Escape

Taken for what it is, a work of Science Fiction, it is an entertaining escape. The listener should not bring any preconceived notions beyond this. It is fascinating and entertaining. However, it is fiction. It does not appear to be a discourse of his own political opinions (despite what others say) - save for the aftward.

However, Mr. Orson Scott Card, for whom I'm an immense fan, should re-read his Civil War history, for the causes he cites here for the cause of this fictional civil war are similar to the REAL causes of the last civil war and though opinions crossed boarders, it was a matter of mostly rural states vs. mostly urban (mostly urban states holding the majority vote).

In this fictional civial war it was the about liberals vs. conservates (liberal opinions being mostly urban and convervatives being mostly rural) - he supposes that the next war will fracture along county lines as opposed to State lines... Perhaps. But perhaps for different reasons than he supposes. Primarily because of the fact that after Civil War 1, the US congress made it illegal for States to secede. Seceding later became more difficult after the State Militia was turned over to the National Guard - taking any military power out of the hands of individual states. Therefore, nothing but a complete takeover of the government by it's own military and backed by a majority of 350 million mostly armed citizens would work.

Mr. Card needs to understand that the seemingly polorized opinions amongst the media (he being sort of in the media), does not represent the opinions of most Americans who are as fractured in their alignments along the lines of the political spectrum as he is. We merely choose sides based on what it most important to us. So it is not inconceivable that there are many Republicans that are pro-choice or many Democrats who are ani-gun control. As we are not in the media, we are drowned out by the money backed party line.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Stick to SciFi

Orson should heed Pat Sajak's axiom - paraphrased - that "Celebrities are the least qualified to comment on politics. They live in a fantasy world."

Aside from the lacking literary value of the book - long, boring political analysis sections - the epilogue is a verbose, if more eloquent restatement, of the Rodney King philosophy, "Can't we all just get along?"

Sorry Mr. Card. I purchased a novel, not a forum for your errant socio-political-religious diatribe. And yes, contrary to your belief, heartfelt or otherwise, there is absolute virtue in the world. And absolute evil. Some things are black and white.

But you do have a right to offer your opinions, but I would challenge the false pretense of the cover of a novel (with a valueless epilogue). I just wish I knew that was what Empire was about before I purchased it.

JTB

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Couldn't take it

This audiobook annoyed me too many times. It's a neat idea for a story, but I couldn't stand the combination of Card's sometimes tedious dialogue and the monotonous, unchanging pacing of the narrator's reading. Whether it's violent action or casual conversation, the narrator never seems to alter his pace or tone (at least not in the first half of the book, which is all I listened to). I have to mention one particular scene that simply bugged me: a guy is shooting at one of the protagonists with a shotgun, and the guy being shot at evades the shot by simply jumping in the air, the shot missing him between his legs. I'm sorry, that's just stupid. Not altogether impossible I suppose, but stupid nonetheless.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Even a great author can have a bad day

America?s War on Terror is being fought and won across the globe. Ruben Mallitch is a bona fide hero in that war and a rising star in the US Army. After completing his tour of duty in the Middle East he is promoted to Major and returns home to complete a Masters Degree at Princeton and then assume new duties in the Pentagon. Those duties include identifying weaknesses in domestic counter-terrorism efforts and formulating plans to exploit them. His ?unofficial? duties include acting as a covert go-between for the White House in the world?s hot spots.
This double life doesn?t trouble him until he witnesses a plan he prepared being executed by terrorists.
Are you hooked yet? I was! This has the makings of a fantastic story.
Orson Scott Card?s military SF offerings are unique in that the military characters are believable. In Empire, the author manages to convince us that Mallitch is both a Professional Soldier and a Patriot without him becoming a parody. He isn?t cold-blooded and mindless, he thinks about, and believes in, what he is doing!
Something terrible happened to Empire on the way to its conclusion:? having made the effort to develop the characters; the author doesn?t find anything useful for them to do!
Empire maintains Audio Renaissance?s high production standards and the reading, by Stefan Rudnicki, is clear, precise and well paced. Unfortunately their efforts cannot save this story from itself.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

disappointing

Possibly the worst book ever. Card's essay at the end has some good things to say, but the plot, characters etc. are overblown, unbelievable and annoying at best. The humor is embarrassing.
I think I've read almost everything Card has written and enjoyed it - I can't believe this is the same person. I listened to the whole thing because I kept thinking it would get better - after a while I realized I was only listening to it because I was angry enough to write a review.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Rightwing Leftist Alert!

Orson Scott Card is a democrat... a liberal, even. And yet, we find ourselves reading a book where the Conservative Right makes up the majority of the protagonists. Why would Card do that? Probably because even though he's a democrat, he's actually a democrat of the "Right to Choose the Right (or wrong)" variety, rather than the "I'll do whatever I want to do, and you can go hang" variety.

Empire opens us up to a world not too far off from the one we live in today... I even got the impression that the book takes place mostly in 2007/2008. He shows us how the heated, bitter, angry partisan attitude in this country could, though hopefully won't, tear the nation apart.

I am a long-time fan of Card, and like many of his fans, his earliest work will always be our favorite. But like anybody in any career, he has matured, and he's moved away from the boyish fun and intrigue of Ender's Game and become much more politically oriented, it seems. Empire is more of a lavishly decorated political commentary, an allegory, even, than it is a true novel of Science Fiction. The "holes" that so many other reviewers are keen to point out are the kinds of holes you could find in any one of Aesop's Fables (the Grasshopper and the Ants, for example).

Though this is not my favorite Card novel, it is certainly an entertaining political story which deserves attention, and having Stefan Rudnicki narrate it certainly makes the audio experience pleasant.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good story (not great) a little preachy

I haven't read anything from Orson Scott Card that was quite like this before. Perhaps it is the fact that conspiracy theories are not my favorite Genre, but I didn’t really enjoy this book that much. The story was decent but there are a lot of authors who do this kind of story a lot better. And the Ideal logy that was being presented isn't something I completely agree with either.
While I too agree that we should not be so extremely left or right that we cannot see anything the other side is trying to show us. There does come a time when we have to stand up for what we believe in.

There I go assuming that I too know more than you do and feeling the need to preach my own "enlightened" theories, sorry.

This book was Just OK for me.
David

10 people found this helpful

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