Ahoy there me mateys! This here be a combined review of the first two books in the Imperials saga. While I try to post no spoilers, ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . .
So basically I have to review these books together because I literally read book one then picked up book two and read that as well. Seriously this series should have more love! The first book centers around the elite training academy of the Solar League. Okay so space training academies are rampant in sci-fi but the brilliance of this one is how the material is handled.
First of all ye follow two people from completely different backgrounds. Mercedes is the fairly spoiled daughter of the Emperor, and his heir, who is looking towards marriage. Only her father gives her an ultimatum that she must join the academy in preparation for ruling. The problem? Women are not part of the military. She will be the first. Mercedes has absolutely no interest and throws a temper tantrum. But her father and the needs of the country leave her no choice.
The other point of view is Tracy who comes from a working class background. His father is a tailor to the wealthy and wants Tracy to increase his station. Basically the only way out is to earn it and Tracy has been offered a scholarship to attend the academy. He doesn’t want to go and plans on refusing it. He hates the ruling elite and wants nothing to do with upper-class society. He wants to go to a regular university and manage his own future path. But familial duty weighs heavily as does his father’s expectations and sacrifices.
So of course they both end up going to the academy. Mercedes has to deal with being a female pioneer and the politics of her position. Tracy has to deal with internal prejudices and the intricacies of social status. Both end up wanting to tackle the challenge and thrive. But that’s not all! Add in aliens, action, and sabotage.
Besides being an entertaining book, there are also the larger pictures of racism and imperialism. The humans in this book have won control over all the alien races and have subjugated them. The society is highly stratified by class and position and gender. It harkens back to Spain in terms of culture and language. The politics seem more in line with modern American to this reader at least.
I absolutely loved the various alien cultures and want to learn a lot more about them. Also while there is romance in these novels, it doesn’t take center stage and certainly doesn’t go in the expected direction. As always, I love watching women make waves and succeed. Ultimately book one was wonderful and I loved every second.
So what about book two? Well here be spoiler territory and I will not ruin it. Let’s just say that the events of book two take place years after graduation when both Mercedes and Tracy have their assignments. One of the fascinating things is that the tone has shifted significantly. The first book dealt with coming-of-age stories filled with hope, learning, growth, and change. It felt that way. In the second installment, gone are the naive students and in place are adults reacting to the world around them and trying to influence it.
The scope of this novel is larger as well. The first book dealt with the years of training at the academy. The second spans a larger amount of time. And chaos is coming. This book is about setting up the larger conflict to come. But so much of this book is also about looking at changes in society and people as time passes. This is also book of consequences – large and small. I found both the character studies and the plot to be of equal interest. I loved the conflicts about found worlds. I loved the aliens. I love the set-up for the war to come. Ultimately I loved book two almost as much as book one!
Book three of the five books series is out now and I be planning on reading it. I wish I already had the entire series in me cabin. This be a good one so far and I recommend that the crew join me on this journey. Arrrr!
Side note: Much thanks to me matey, Sarah @ brainfluff, for pointing me in the direction of this excellent series.
Goodreads has this to say about book one:
Emperor’s daughter Mercedes is the first woman ever admitted to the High Ground, the elite training academy of the Solar League’s Star Command, and she must graduate if she is to have any hope of taking the throne. Her classmate Tracy has more modest goals — to rise to the rank of captain, and win fame and honor. But a civil war is coming and the political machinations of those who yearn for power threaten the young cadets. In a time of intrigue and alien invasion, they will be tested as they never thought possible.
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