The Empress: The Diabolic, Book 2

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Empress: The Diabolic, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Twisty space opera ups the intensity in middle volume.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Empress explores the question of nature vs. nurture as its main character struggles to define herself as human or other.

Positive Messages

Our upbringing is not our destiny. Hurt people can heal and develop empathy for others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although raised as a killing machine, Nemesis has managed to learn something about empathy. She's still ruthless when it comes to protecting Tyrus, but she's more aware of who might get hurt because of her actions.

Violence

Violence plays a large part in the plot, from fistfights to acts of genocide. Characters are stabbed, throttled, burned, and dissolved with chemicals. Thanks to health bots, such injuries are not always fatal.

Sex

Tyrus and Nemesis are supposed to consummate their marriage publicly, but they foil the voyeurs. They share a number of passionate embraces, but their physical intimacy is not otherwise described.

Language

An instance or two of "hell" and "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Tyrus is intentionally addicted to a brain-damaging drug.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Empress is the second volume in the sci-fi series by S.J. Kincaid that began in The Diabolic. It continues the intergalactic adventures of Nemesis, a killing machine in human form, as she tries to regain her place as the wife of Tyrus, the Empire's rightful ruler. There are many violent scenes, ranging from fistfights to planetary genocide, with characters stabbed, poisoned, throttled, burned, and melted by chemicals. Tyrus and Nemesis consummate their marriage, but the details are limited to a few passionate embraces. Tyrus becomes addicted to a brain-damaging drug.

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What's the story?

Picking up from where The Diabolic left off, THE EMPRESS finds Emperor Tyrus ready to rule with Nemesis by his side. But their dreams of peace and prosperity are quickly dashed when he realizes that the scepter that should control every machine in the galaxy simply doesn't work, leaving them vulnerable to their enemies' plots. Together and separately, Nemesis and Tyrus must travel to the far reaches of space, hoping to find a strategy that will spare their lives and restore them both to the throne. The problem is, they can't trust anyone, not even each other. Everyone they encounter has a secret, deadly agenda that could result in their death.

Is it any good?

A lot of trilogies tend to sag in the middle, but this second volume takes the action and intrigue to a new level. With The Empress, author S.J. Kincaid delivers more of the political skullduggery that distinguished The Diabolic and amps up its intensity. Readers won't be able to anticipate the surprises in store, as Nemesis and Tyrus attempt to save themselves and the Empire. This is a superior space opera for teens, and readers will be breathlessly awaiting the next installment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Empress depicts politics. Why is it difficult to rule something as big as a galaxy? Would another form of government be more suited to the task?

  • How do people learn to feel empathy? What behaviors promote empathy, and which can undermine it?

  • What role does violence play in The Empress? Is it an effective method of controlling other people? What are better methods of settling disputes?

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