Broken Empires: Aftermath by E.A. Copen – a review

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.

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Guilty by Association by E.A. Copen – Review

Guilty by Association by E.A. Copen – Review

“Welcome to Paint Rock” is asign that signals you’re entering a very small town in west Texas. How small is the town? The sign is painted on both sides. Ok, that’s a bad joke, but you get the idea. The people in Paint Rock are wonderful people, but it’s a small town. I used to tell people trying to find me when I lived there, “Drive out to the middle of nowhere, and take a left.” Imagine my surprise to begin reading Guilty by Association by E. A. Copen and finding out that the Judah Black novels are set in Paint Rock, Texas. (You had me at “Paint Rock,” E. A.)

Paint Rock is a different town from the one I knew and loved. As the truth came out that Vampires, Werewolves, and Fae lived among us, the government had to do something. Someone took a map, put their finger in the middle of nowhere, moved it left slightly, and decided that Paint Rock was the perfect town to use to isolate the Supernatural Beings. Each group re-formed the area of the town that they settled in to their liking. It would be easy to look upon the new Paint Rock and channel Obi Wan: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.” Yet as Guilty by Association shows, evil is not caused by form. People who aren’t “supernatural” can look pretty bad too.

Paint Rock was the end of the line for BSI agents. (That’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigations.) And so we see Judah Black living there on assignment with her last chance. Doing normal things. Like laundry at the laundromat. And keeping knowledge of her son away from everyone.  Only that day, the laundromat was a crime scene that would lead Judah Black on a hunt for a vicious killer. A werewolf is splattered all over the laundromat and Judah has to begin the hunt while getting her boy ready for school, all in dirty clothes to boot. It was not going to be a good day.

While investigating the murder, Judah and Detective Tindall, her unwilling partner in the investigation uncover the disappearance of three children – one werewolf, one vampire, and one fae. The missing werewolf is the nephew of the murdered werewolf and suspicion begins to rest on him as the abductor. People soon learn that talking to Judah Black is dangerous to their health and it gets even harder for her to gain information. Her neighbor, a war veteran and a werewolf, steps in to help her during this time.

Things turn to the worst for Judah when her son is kidnapped as well. Death, destruction, and mayhem continue to follow Judah until the end of the book. By the time it’s complete, Judah has managed to make enemies with practically everyone in Paint Rock, and also in Eden – 22 miles to the south. Can she redeem herself by solving the murder and rescuing any of the children, including her own?

I have to admit that I might be prejudiced in favor of this book because of the setting. I have actually lived in Paint Rock, and while the overall building set up may have changed because of the circumstances of the story, I relived some good days I had there while reading. The story is gripping, E.A. Copen spins a tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat. She introduces you to a great idea in this book: if all these fantasy creatures really existed, how would we be able to live side by side in the world with them? I highly recommend this book and have enjoyed the next volumes in the series so far.

E.A. Copen is the author of the Judah Black novels and the forthcoming space opera, Broken Empire. She’s an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy and other genre fiction. When she’s not chained to her keyboard, she may be found time traveling on the weekends with her SCA friends. She lives in beautiful southeast Ohio with her husband and two kids, at least until she saves up enough to leave the shire and become a Jedi. (This last paragraph taken from her Amazon page)