If you are an Orson Scott Card fan because of the science fiction aspect of his stories, expect something different from this book. However, his books are really about intrigue, political maneuvering, and strength of character. Empire brings those elements to a current setting.
Be prepared for the range of emotion that would be inevitable if you witnessed another Civil War in America. Some parts are painful; more so than if they were taking place at a future time and place instead of here and now.
Although represented as a blend of philosophy, literature, science, memoir, etc, this book is really about the abuses of factory farms. Any health benefits of a vegetarian diet are not even considered. Although I agree with the writer's opinion that our eating meat supports a cruel industry, I would not have purchased the book just to hear that theme repeated hour after hour. I expected something more thoughtful.
Many reviews rightly emphasize the great story and characters. Thankfully, there are many books that do the same. But what makes this story extraordinary is the historical context. The challenges faced and decisions made by these characters are the issues that brought us out of the Dark Ages and into the Early Renaissance. This story illustrates the pain of change on a grand scale; the decline of the feudal system, the fading power of the guilds on economic life, the first signs of the weakening influence of the Church over all aspects of society, and questioning of mindless adherence to tradition.
Many times throughout the story, I was reminded of Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. The theme of both books is that individuals of ability and courage can shape their destiny and change the course of history.
I have read works by most of these writers that I enjoyed very much. These stories focus on character description, but the plots are flat. Maybe we have experienced so many great stories written in the last hundred years, that these from the 1800s come across as amateur attempts. The only truly great story here is "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge". You would be better off trying any of the new books that are available.
This is a complex storyline with lots of characters to keep straight. If, after reading hundreds of books, you search for writers and stories with some evidence of original thought and imagination, then you should be pleased with this selection. The book cannot be easily classified: Action-Adventure, Suspense/Mystery, and Erotica could all apply.
This is classic storytelling, and it is well done. Good vs. Evil with the hero/heroine facing a moral delima. The ending is not quite what I had wished, but if everything were as we expect, where is the suspense?
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