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Publisher's Summary

Orson Scott Card is a master storyteller who has earned millions of fans and reams of praise for his previous science-fiction and fantasy works. Now he steps a little closer to the present day with this chilling look at a near-future scenario: a new American Civil War.

The American Empire has grown too fast, and the fault lines at home are stressed to the breaking point. The war of words between Right and Left has collapsed into a shooting war, though most people just want to be left alone.

The battle rages between the high-technology weapons on one side and militia foot-soldiers on the other, devastating the cities and overrunning the countryside. But the vast majority, who only want the killing to stop and the nation to return to more peaceful days, have technology, weapons, and strategic geniuses of their own.

When the American dream shatters into violence, who can hold the people and the government together? And which side will you be on?

©2006 Orson Scott Card (P)2006 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC

Critic Reviews

"Couldn't be timelier...heartfelt and sobering....All the action doesn't obscure the author's message about the dangers of extreme political polarization and the need to reassert moderation and mutual drives it home." (Booklist)

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  • Overall
  • Andrea
  • Northampton, MA, USA
  • 01-01-07

Good pace, weak premise

While the pace of this book was engaging, the premise was not. Progressive democrats invading NYC with their own mechanized militia? Then easily footnoted by a few special ops boys? Kind of laughable and, at best, overly simplistic.

I stuck with this book because I kept waiting for a second or third dimension to be revealed - some gritty contradiction perhaps, or actual character development.

The final affront is the afterword in which the author, lacking any real analysis, provides predictable right-ish political commentary. Should have quit while I was ahead.

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Even a great author can have a bad day

America?s War on Terror is being fought and won across the globe. Ruben Mallitch is a bona fide hero in that war and a rising star in the US Army. After completing his tour of duty in the Middle East he is promoted to Major and returns home to complete a Masters Degree at Princeton and then assume new duties in the Pentagon. Those duties include identifying weaknesses in domestic counter-terrorism efforts and formulating plans to exploit them. His ?unofficial? duties include acting as a covert go-between for the White House in the world?s hot spots.
This double life doesn?t trouble him until he witnesses a plan he prepared being executed by terrorists.
Are you hooked yet? I was! This has the makings of a fantastic story.
Orson Scott Card?s military SF offerings are unique in that the military characters are believable. In Empire, the author manages to convince us that Mallitch is both a Professional Soldier and a Patriot without him becoming a parody. He isn?t cold-blooded and mindless, he thinks about, and believes in, what he is doing!
Something terrible happened to Empire on the way to its conclusion:? having made the effort to develop the characters; the author doesn?t find anything useful for them to do!
Empire maintains Audio Renaissance?s high production standards and the reading, by Stefan Rudnicki, is clear, precise and well paced. Unfortunately their efforts cannot save this story from itself.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Couldn't take it

This audiobook annoyed me too many times. It's a neat idea for a story, but I couldn't stand the combination of Card's sometimes tedious dialogue and the monotonous, unchanging pacing of the narrator's reading. Whether it's violent action or casual conversation, the narrator never seems to alter his pace or tone (at least not in the first half of the book, which is all I listened to). I have to mention one particular scene that simply bugged me: a guy is shooting at one of the protagonists with a shotgun, and the guy being shot at evades the shot by simply jumping in the air, the shot missing him between his legs. I'm sorry, that's just stupid. Not altogether impossible I suppose, but stupid nonetheless.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful

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So Says the Oracle

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who thinks that our current polarized political situation could lead to and an uprising. If it wasn't for the fact that Orson Scott Card did not see the fall of Bill O'Reilly coming, I would be tempted to call him a prophet.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Interesting story

Overall good story, but the dialog between main characters can get a little bit of noxious at times. it certainly had moments that made me think "what if".

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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With deadly accuracy

It is amazing how accurately OSC is able to articulate the phases and ideology of the opposing forces in America today. Written a decade ago, tensions have raisen since then and are now comparable to those reflected in this book. Each year they progressively get worse. Everyone is insane.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • David
  • NAMPA, IDAHO, United States
  • 12-04-06

Good story (not great) a little preachy

I haven't read anything from Orson Scott Card that was quite like this before. Perhaps it is the fact that conspiracy theories are not my favorite Genre, but I didn’t really enjoy this book that much. The story was decent but there are a lot of authors who do this kind of story a lot better. And the Ideal logy that was being presented isn't something I completely agree with either.
While I too agree that we should not be so extremely left or right that we cannot see anything the other side is trying to show us. There does come a time when we have to stand up for what we believe in.

There I go assuming that I too know more than you do and feeling the need to preach my own "enlightened" theories, sorry.

This book was Just OK for me.

10 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • John
  • Truckee, CA, USA
  • 03-12-07

Ridiculous but Entertaining

Nearly everyone love's Ender's Game who reads it, this author's best known work. This book is far, far from that though. It's not sci-fi but almost immediate future and so all the completely absurd weaponry, and unbelievable military prowess is simply not credible. In fact, very little of it is believable which really ruins the story (and I like stuff from Clancy or Ludlum for example). OSC is also incredibly heavy handed with his right wing cheerleading - for example, we're meant to accept that CNN is just as crazy left-wing as Fox news is right. I don't think even Rush Limbaugh would agree with that.

The book is well read though, and you probably won't be bored, just irritated.

9 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • Hightstown, NJ, USA
  • 12-07-06

Great Premise, Fair Delivery

This is kind of like a politically-oriented Crichton novel, just not as well thought out or written. I like the premise of a "new civil war", but it's execution is fair at best. Many of the characters are stereotypes -- and cardboard ones at that -- and there are holes in the plot large enough to drive a few "mechs" through. (Read the book and you'll get the reference>)

That said, I still basically enjoyed to book. The plot moves along fairly quickly, some of the stereotypes are spot on, and Card does make one really consider the impact of overheated political rhetoric.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • JTF
  • Cary, NC USA
  • 09-18-14

Red State vs. Blue State-> Benevolent Dicatator?

Orson Scott Card does nothing if he doesn't thoroughly analyze a topic through his novels. Some may be pure fiction, such as time travel analyzed in Pathfinder and Ruins, stand-ins for the non-fictional such as the Ender series where he analyzes hatred of and hostility towards those who are different (Ender's Game), then dealing with the consequences of how you treat those who are "other", alien or different than you. In Empire and Hidden Empire, Mr. Card reflects on the political chasm of those who are conservative and those who are liberal (red state vs. blue state), a civil war that results from the chasm and a potential leader who views the only solution to that and other global problems is to become a benevolent dictator, albeit one who keeps the form of democracy.

As is my typical practices, I went between the Kindle and Audible versions of Empire but the Audible version only of Hidden Empire. Mr. Card provides the narrative introduction to each chapter while Stefan Rudnicki narrates the core of the story. Mr. Rudnicki is a consummate narrator and he brings his golden voice, deft pacing and perfect inflections to bear on these stories. He ranges from a Southern soldier and an eastern-seaboard house wives / political wonk to an Hispanic soldier and a Nigerian boy; now that's range. An amazing job, as always. Rusty Humphries joins the narration effort in Hidden Empire and does fine job essentially playing himself. If you enjoy audio books, you'll like this version.

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2 of 3 people found this review helpful