I continue to marvel at Copen’s versatility as an author. With Broken Empires, she begins a space opera. I actually had to do some research on how space operas work and how they’re formatted. With that said, here’s my review.
Copen begins her description of the book with three words: Soldier, Traitor, Savior. We soon learn that she’s describing Timothy Val. The Senjele Empire is restless, and rebellion is breaking out in some of the outer planets. Val is one of those sent to quell the rebellion on the backwater planet of Toria. Ethical questions begin immediately as members of Val’s squad wonder about shooting people who are part of their empire. Once the rebellious planet is subdued, Val is faced with another ethical dilemma about how to deal with the rebellious subjects. His response sets the rest of the book in motion.
Copen, as an author, reveals a lot about humanity. In her other books, she veils the message by sending it through the monsters of urban fantasy (Judah Black series, Beasts of Babylon). In Broken Empire: Aftermath, the message comes from a humanoid species forcing the reader to think about the best and the worst of humanity. Val becomes involved in a web of political intrigue that involves the emperor, his sons, his wife, a senator who is part of the revolution, in his own words, and a complicated slave belonging to the senator. All this plays against the background of Val’s family history.
If things aren’t bad enough for the Senjelens, relationships with the Erolyians, long time enemies, continue to worsen. Intrigue abounds in the Erolyian Empire as well and the Emperor of Erolyia seems to have some interesting powers. Bring in an unwelcomed birth and the emperor as a distraught father and husband, and the possibilities are endless.
One of Copen’s strengths in my eyes is that readers always want the story to go on. She weaves amazing stories that you don’t want to stop. Aftermath fits that pattern well, perhaps too well. Without giving too much away, the ending is closer to “The Empire Strikes Back” than “A New Hope.” Honestly, I was hoping for a resolution to one of the story lines, but I understand that Space Opera is like that. The good news is that more books are in the planning stage according to rumors I’ve heard!
The above disappointment aside, I really enjoyed this book. It has a few language issues that bother me, but most people aren’t as easily offended as I am. If you can’t live with profane language, you may have some issues with the book. Most of the time, though, they don’t come into play. I can recommend this book because Copen, in spreading her wings even further than she has in the past, plays to her strength and develops a great story that makes it hard to put the book down.