The Killing of Worlds

The Killing of Worlds

Westerfeld, Scott

Book 2.0 of Succession

Publisher: Tor Books

Publishing date: Oct 1, 2003

Words: 98646
Pages: 361


Scott Westerfeld, the acclaimed author of *Fine Prey, Polymorph, *and *Evolution's Darling*, reached new heights of excitement in last spring's T*he Risen Empire*, and left readers begging for more. Now he comes through with the dazzling payoff in book two of S*uccession, The Killing of Worlds.* Captain Laurent Zai of the Imperial frigate Lynx is a walking dead man. Unjustly held responsible for the death of the Child Empress, sister of the immortal Emperor, Zai has been sent to fight an unwinnable battle. The Lynx must stop a vastly superior Rix ship from reaching the planet Legis, a suicide mission that will almost certainly end in oblivion for Captain Zai and his crew. On the planet Legis below, a Rix compound mind--a massive emergent AI formed from every computer on the planet--as been isolated by their Imperial blockade. But the mind has guided a lone Rix commando, Herd, to the planet's frozen north, and will soon order a desperate attempt to seize a polar communications array and break the blockade. Herd is a single warrior against an Imperial army, but moving silently behind her is the intelligence of an entire planet. Ten light-years away, Captain Zai's true love, the psychic (some say mad) Senator Nara Oxham is engaged in a deadly game of political intrigue. From her position on the Emperor's War Council, Senator Oxham must find a way to forestall the Emperor's final solution if the blockade is broken: a nuclear strike to destroy the compound mind, which will also kill millions of Imperial citizens. She suspects that the Emperor has a hidden weakness discovered, by the mind, a secret so dangerous to his immortal dynasty that to prevent its discovery the Emperor is willing to countenance the ultimate crime. . . . The killing of worlds. With this powerful conclusion to the first story arc of *Succession*, Scott Westerfeld confirms his stature as one of the leading writers of high space opera. From Publishers Weekly After Westerfeld's excellent first installment, The Risen Empire (2003), in which a far-future empire of 80 worlds depends on its ruler's ability to give his most loyal subjects immortality, this concluding sequel comes as something of a letdown. That said, the author does a superb job of depicting an escalating space battle between human and rival Rix (cyborg) forces, with its constantly amazing but logical weapons and tactics, as well as political maneuvering back at the imperial capital. Vivid characterization and a witty, laconic style lift this far above the space-opera average. Readers, though, will need to go back to the first book to understand what makes the struggle between the empire and the Rix significant to meet Laurent Zai, brilliant space captain, whose allegiance to the emperor is weakening, and his lover, Senator Nara Oxham, who believes that the promise of immortality is choking human evolution. Without this personal perspective, the displays of military hardware come across as merely clever. At the end, huge promising and threatening changes have just begun. Despite the billing as the second half of the story, some may suspect that there's at least a third half lurking offstage. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Booklist Captain Laurent Zai demonstrates his strategic cleverness as well as an unusual amount of luck, when he unexpectedly defeats the Rix ship he was sent to destroy--an assignment intended to be a suicide mission. Meanwhile, in the imperial senate, Nara Oxham walks a fine line between treason and her party's agenda as she fights the emperor himself. The extent of imperial corruption is becoming clear, thanks to the emperor's willingness to destroy an entire world with dirty bombs to keep the secret of the immortality he grants the elite. That secret comes out, however, because of the machine mind created on Legis XV by the Rix invasion. Thus begins the fall of the Risen Empire. The successor to *The Risen Empire* [BKL F 15 03] is just as fine a rip-roaring space opera, with its strength residing in the characters, all of them involved in believable dilemmas, even Herd, the supposedly emotionless cyborg Rix soldier who finds love and mourns its loss. *Regina Schroeder* Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved