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This is book two of the “Decline and Fall of the Empire” series. I recently read book one so everything was nice and fresh in my memory for book two. Unlike book one the big fleet battles have been fought; now it is the political fight to save the Federation. Admiral Drake is now Emperor Marius and everything in the Federation is falling apart and a new interstellar power has arisen on the Rim, so war might be imminent. The fifth fleet is now battling the forces on the Rim. It looks as if the problems of the Federation are too great and complicated for anyone to solve.
In this book Nuttall has not only an interesting surface plot but a much deeper plot for those readers who are history and or classic literature buffs. As usual Nuttall has his political commentary running throughout the story. The book is well written and fast paced. Nuttall continues to build his character thought the story. The story also delves into human nature more so than his other books. While reading the book the readers should keep in mind Lord Acton’s famous quote “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” There was a surprise ending that leaves me anxious to read the next volume in the series. Tim Gerard Reynolds does a good job narrating the book. I am looking forward to book three in the series.
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Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was a Roman aristocrat and statesman (consul in 460 BC and dictator in 458 BC and 439 BC) who was considered a model of civic virtue. He was dictator only until he felt the country was in a position that he could turn it over to someone else. Drake is trying to do the same thing, but is having trouble as emperor because he is really out of his expertise. He finds, as most reformers do, that the problems they promise to fix are much more complicated and not so easily solved! And then, he has a Nazi for an enforcer, and he doesn't know what horrors this guy is exacting.
Roman Garibaldi is still out there running the fleet and fighting the outsider rebels. There is lots of action but it ends up confusing, and it is not clear why the winner won. There is a lot of blather that lets your mind wander and then you don't know what was happening or who is who. The writing doesn't seem at tight as in The Empire's Corps.
Still I hope for these good men, but then the series is called The Decline and Fall of the Galactic Empire. So, there really isn't going to be a happy ending.
The narration is just passable, not great. And the book starts out in the year 1492 but ends up 8 years later in 41-something. I thought that perhaps the 1492 was intentionally metaphoric, but now I think it was a mistake. The only thing that keeps me going is curiosity regarding how long it will take to get to Col. Stocker, and Prof. Sezius's (chapter headings) more interesting books on the last years of the Empire.
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