Intrigues, Saving the World, and Lots of Cussing: John Scalzi – The Last Emperox

I started The Interdependency Trilogy solely because it is a Best Series Hugo Award finalist this year and, honestly, I didn’t expect too much from it. After the first book, I was cautiously optimistic that, at least, it would be fun to read, if not very deep. After the second book, I embraced the fun and the clever twists. And now, after having finished the trilogy, I still don’t think it will make you think super deep thoughts about Life, the Universe, and Everything but, my god, was it fun!

by John Scalzi

Published: Tor, 2020
321 pages
The Interdependency #3
My rating:

Opening line: The funny thing was, Ghreni Nohamapetan, the acting Duke of End, actually saw the surface-to-air missile that slammed into his aircar a second before it hit.

Can they escape the end of an empire?

Entire star systems, and billions of people, are about to be stranded. The pathways that link the stars are collapsing faster than anyone expected, accelerating the fall of civilization. But though the evidence is insurmountable, many are in denial. And some even attempt to profit from the final days of this golden age.

Emperox Grayland II has wrested control of the empire from her enemies. But even as she works to save her people, others seek power. And they will make a final, desperate push to topple her from her throne. Grayland and her depleted allies must use every tool at their disposal to save themselves and humanity – yet it still may not be enough.

Will Grayland become the saviour of her civilization . . . or the last emperox to wear the crown?

Oh Scalzi, you sneaky trilogy writer, you! I like it when authors plan out a trilogy in advance, when you get a full story in three parts where each single part still kind of tells a sub-story on its own and leaves you mostly satisfied. The Interdependancy is a full success on that count and actually turned me into a Scalzi fan!

Emperox Grayland II and her boyfriend Marce Claremont are still trying to figure out how to save the billions of lives of Interdependency citizens when the inevitable collapse of the Flow happens. With the recently discovered ephemeral Flow shoals, they hope to at least have a little more time to find a solution but things look grim, to say the least. Meanwhile, Nadashe Nohamaetan is still alive and, without a doubt, scheming and planning the next assassinaiton attempt on Cardenia, the planet End is still controlled by her idiot brother, and about a third of the nobility is currently locked up for treason. So… great odds all around.

I honestly can’t say much more or less than I said in my review of the second Interdependency book because this is pretty much more of the same. And I mean that in the best way. You get foul-mouthed Kiva Lagos being herself and that means not only being smug about the fact that she’s smarter than many other people and much smarter than people give her credit for, but also getting herself out of seemingly inescapable situations. With nothing but her brain. And soap operas…
You also get more of Cardenia and her lovely relationship with Marce, which I thought was a fine example of two people who truly love and respect each other, even when (or especially when) they make mistakes. I think Scalzi has a pretty good grasp of how a working, loving relationship can look like and it shows in this royal/scientist couple.

But although there’s more intrigues, more scheming, more danger and scientific discovery, this book does hold another big twist in store that could actually make a re-read of the entire trilogy worthwile. Obviously I can’t say much more than that without spoiling but I like it when a book makes me go “whaaaat?” when I didn’t expect it.

As for the dialogue, it’s snappy as ever and led to some of the most humorous moments. My favorite line is one I can’t quote here because its context will ruin part of the ending but, maaaaaan, did I laugh! And it’s not just that this book is funny (it absolutely is) but it also delivers some of the most satisfying moments you can imagine.
Even scenes where you see right thorugh the characters from the start and you know they see thorugh each other as well, it’s fun to watch them verbally dance around a bit before finally laying the cards on the table. Liek after several pages of pretending not to see how the other is trying to manipulate you, they’d finally come out and serve it up straight. Which doesn’t make it any less fun, let me tell you!

“I see what you’re doing, you know,” [character] said.

“I should certainly hope so; I’m being obvious enough about it,” [other character] said.

Now the only thing that could have ruined my perfectly happy reading time was the ending. I had kind of seen it coming that, after the discoveries made in The Consuming Fire, everything would turn out super well. To the degree that it becomes unbelievable – as much as the whole Flow and Interdependency setup is believable, anyway. But Scalzi also did a great job with the ending. I’m not saying things end well, I’m not saying they end badly, but they end in a manner that makes both sense and left me satisfied. For some people, things turn out better than others. Some get what they had coming, others get something unexpected.

If I consider not just this instalment but the trilogy as a whole, I would definitely recommend it and recommend reading it pretty much one right after th eother. John Scalzi always manages to remind us of the big players and what’s happened before but, honeslty, why would you want to stop after book one when there are two more waiting for you? Especially if it means you can spend time with Kiva Lagos who, despite the wonderful, good-hearted, clever Cardenia, is my fucking hero of these books! Kudos to Scalzi. Now let’s make sure his next book, The Kaiju Preservation Society is just as good.

MY RATING: 7.5/10 – Very fucking good!


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