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Empress of Forever  By  cover art

Empress of Forever

By: Max Gladstone
Narrated by: Natalie Naudus
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Publisher's summary

A wildly successful innovator to rival Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, Vivian Liao is prone to radical thinking, quick decision-making, and reckless action. On the eve of her greatest achievement, she seeks to outrun people who are trying to steal her success. 

In the chilly darkness of a Boston server farm, she sets her ultimate plan into motion. A terrifying instant later, she is catapulted through space and time to a far future where she confronts a destiny stranger and more deadly than she could ever imagine. 

The end of time is ruled by an ancient, powerful Empress who blesses or blasts entire planets with a single thought. Rebellion is literally impossible to consider - until Vivian Liao arrives. Trapped between the Pride - a ravening horde of sentient machines - and a fanatical sect of warrior monks who call themselves the Mirrorfaith, Viv must rally a strange group of allies to confront the Empress and find a way back to the world and life she left behind.

©2019 Dreamscape Media, LLC (P)2019 Dreamscape Media, LLC

Critic reviews

“A classic space opera that impossibly becomes a thrilling dungeon crawl fantasy through a universe we’ve never seen before. So smart it makes me jealous.” (Delilah S. Dawson, New York Times best-selling author)
 

What listeners say about Empress of Forever

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Huh? (No really, huh?)

What started as a pretty cool story with awesome word play, right up my alley, quickly descended into a fantastic mess of this then that. By "this" and "that" I mean the way the story just jumps into the next scene with no clear structure and no clear understanding of what led the characters into that scene. I get that this is a fantasy story, and I get that it requires a healthy dose of imagination but the way the writer strings the scenes together doesn't work for my logical brain, I need scene structure that explains how we got from this to that, not a world full of one then suddenly another with no clear discription of what this "another" is. Even the worlds that the characters battle on, one minute they're in a room, then they're on a star, then the star is transparent, then they're in the sky in a space ship, then they've landed light years away (you know, because in space every destination is just around the corner), then they have no fuel then the lesbian princess, oh and what's with the Valley Girl sound of Xiange or Xange (however one spells that), it sounded okay at first but for a world eating, star inhaling super power her character is hardly believable, she sounds more like she needs 20% off at Macy's and a manicure, however it's possible that is the fault of the narrator more than the author. The story began with a cool, adult feel to it, structured and the kind of story I could sink my teeth into. Eventually it just became a childs fantasy, even though there are clear adult overtones, by the time I hit chapter 19 I just couldn't anymore. Maybe I'm not cultured enough for this sort of writing but I require coherency and this story lacks that. Maybe you like it, I didn't.

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16 people found this helpful

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Wild psychedelic space opera

What a stroke of luck tripping over this book on Audible! Gladstone has a unique sensibility that starts from a foundation of '70s psychedelia like Heavy Metal and Fantastic Planet, dumps in a hefty dose of Dragonball Z, and filters the whole thing through a TED Talk by a lesbian Jeff Bezos. Natalie Naudus' character voicing is phenomenal, right on point with how Gladstone undercuts the godlike beings our Last Simple Meatbag in the Universe protagonist has to wrangle at every turn.

The book does suffer from a slow start, but once it gets going it rarely slows down. The closest comparison I'd make would probably be Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep.

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11 people found this helpful

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Bootlicker’s love letter to the oligarchs

If you think oligarchs like Bezos and Musk—who have hoarded unimaginable amounts of wealth by exploiting their underpaid workers—got where they are today through “hard work,” “innovation,” and “creating jobs” then this book is for you! Otherwise, skip it. Couldn’t even finish it because the author can’t stop fawning over the rich and powerful like he’s got something to prove to them. Ugh.

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Started well...

Overall the story was good it just dragged on for a lot longer than nessary...I almost didn't finish it because after a time I stopped caring about the characters as not much seemed to be happening...

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4 people found this helpful

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Excellent and innovative novel

The book was innovative, fun and interesting.

Without giving anything away:

The characters were unique, interesting and all evolved deliberately throughout the book in great ways. I was specifically worried about feminist and/or lesbian characters being written by a man and/or executed in a preachy way, but both concerns proved to be baseless. I will specifically call out how each character had a story, instead of just being a part of the main character's story. Each had unique relationships with the main character, but also to each other.

The setting is super-advanced sci-fi, with no attempt to actually explain how or why things work, but rather focused on effects that could be observed. That said, you could feel consistency throughout the book and marvel with the main character about the effects.

There were twists that I never saw coming and I enjoyed each of them. There were also many elements that could have gone very wrong which were handled with grace and skill.

As for the audiobook itself, Natalie Naudus did an excellent job of voicing each character, even in some very complicated situations.

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4 people found this helpful

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Calling this a Space Opera doesn't do it Justice

This massive work exists within and outside the scope of the main character's mind. The general summary of "a brilliant, future megalomanic character that is sucked into a battle between universes, times and more while encountering mind bending beings that make you and her question to ideas of creation and power" sounds utterly ridiculous.

However it's true. The humor balances out the violence in such a brilliant way but it also highlights the way we, as people, deal with stress and the unknown as we strive through life and seek to know what really drives us.

Get this book now.

I also enjoyed this as an audiobook and it made the work transform again. Natalie Naudus's narration was a perfect pairing of the work. She truly embodied each character and made them stand out for however long they remained on screen/the page. I still laugh at her portrayal of Zanj and the honesty in the insanity.

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3 people found this helpful

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Epic Space Opera with an awesome narrator!

A pirate that was caught
A servant that refused to serve
A pilot without wings
A woman without a soul

WOW!!! Where do I start? Well, I listened to this using Audible and man oh man was it epic!! The narrator, Natalie Naudus, was ingenious with her portrayals of each character. She was so good that I never had to question who was speaking at any given time and she brought to life every beloved persona with style.

This book boasted excellent writing. There were loads of scenarios that were hard to envision though. Deep concepts with sweeping, unfathomable grandeur. How do you picture eating moons and spitting out galaxies? Being so large that whole solar systems are dwarfed? Shifts and metamorphosis in and out of dimensions and through a galactic network, called the Cloud? Where bodies are no longer necessary and the matter of having a soul is directly linked to ones ability to connect with and manipulate the Cloud?

The Character Development was beautific, rich. The world Development was immense, extremely confusing at times yet so dynamic I felt like I lived this life in this place with these characters. I know them so well as to be affected by the things that shaped them and terrified and in peril as they were...and they were in CONSTANT peril. There was absolute non stop action and it was unbelievably grand in scope and breadth.

What was it all for?? For the liberation of all sentient beings of course.

Was it worth it? Well you'll just have to see for yourself but as for my time and devotion? Heck yeah it was worth every nanosecond spent listening to this masterpiece.

~ Enjoy

*** I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ***

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great book

this was a great book I only have one point of criticism. I feel that the end was a bit rushed how ever the adventure as a whole was captivating and you fell in love with the characters.

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disappointing

started off great. but then got into pointless adventures. I will still read other books by the author

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very entertaining

I liked the story. some of the descriptions were repetitive, but good book. the reader was fantastic!

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