The Collapsing Empire

Cover of The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi. Review, Rating and Summary

WOW! This book is truly amazing. I had an absolute blast reading The Collapsing Empire. It is very different than what I am used to but I loved that. It is set in a sci-fi world, about two thousand years ahead of our time. The story is fast-paced, incredibly funny and it really never gets boring. 


The main characters are described in a very authentic manner. They seem like real people, with real struggles, which makes the book that more fun to read. As for the story, it is very intriguing, and it progresses quite quickly. You never get to take a breath, because there is always something happening.  


We are also left on a little bit of a cliff-hanger, because the story is nowhere near finished and there will be two more books to follow. Both of which I am definitely going to read! 

If you are a Sci-Fi fan and you would love some change, because most sci-Fi books tend to be rather similar, then go for The Collapsing Empire. It is very unique in so many different ways, in which I will delve deeper in my detailed review below.


I cannot rate this book anything else than a 10/10. I loved it. Great dialogue, captivating story and authentic characters, combined with John Scalzi’s amazing writing style make for an absolutely fascinating read!

The author

John Scalzi was born in 1969 in California. He is most famous for his Old Man’s War series and has won a number of awards. He is currently living in Bradford, Ohio. 


Pages: 336

Publisher: Tor

Date of release: 23.03.2017 

ISBN: 978-1509835072


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Review (Major spoilers ahead!)

Alright, as you might have guessed by the introduction, I absolutely ADORED this book. To me, it was as perfect a book as can be. And I do not say that lightly, as I have read quite a few lovely books. Yet, this one stands out, and for all the right reasons. But first, let me start with a general outline of the book’s story: 



There are different plotlines that are followed in this book. First, there is Cardenia, now Grayland II, emperox of the Interdependency (the system of all human outposts in the galaxy). She is basically their queen. We follow her from when her father was still emperox to when she is coronated. Later, two assassination attempts are made, both of which fail. 

Then, there is Lady Kiva Lagos. She is the owner’s representative on a ship called Yes Sir, That’s My Baby. She travels through the Flow (I cannot really explain what it is, let’s just say, it is a system of streams, which originated naturally and connect all human systems in the Interdependency). She travels on a commercial ship, doing business in the name of the House of Lagos. 

There is also Count Claremont and his son. Both are so-called Flow-Physicists, meaning they specialize in studying the Flow. Count Claremont found out that the streams are about to collapse and therefore sends his son Marce to meet with the emperox and explain the situation to her. 



Let’s leave it at that, because chances are if you are reading this part, you have already read the whole book, anyway.  

So, let’s start with the reviewing part of this, well, review. 



First, I would like to talk about the story and all the trappings of the world the story plays in. I loved the concept of the Flow connecting all those planets together. Even though there is a sometimes significant time delay, as you could be travelling in the Flow for months at a time, the Flow is essential to the growth and prosperity of the Interdependency. It is a very unique idea. Usually in Sci-Fi, there are teleportation devices or some kind of faster-than-light travel, but not here. This makes the premise of the book rather special and different from others. 



Now, take the Flow away, and the whole system crumbles, which is exactly what is happening or is going to happen here. 


However, we do not know this from the get-go. We spend a significant amount of time being introduced to the characters and the world they live in. In my opinion, this is so very important, because when the main story kicks in, we already bonded with the characters and we hope for them to succeed (or in the case of the Nohamapetans, to fail miserably). 



Talking about the characters, I think John Scalzi did an amazing job, making sure they come across as authentic as possible. On the one hand, we got Cardeniabeing rather insecure and not actually wanting to be emperox but having no other choice. She faces new challenges and tries to handle them as well as she can, while trying not to be assassinated. On the other hand, we have Lady Kiva Lagos, this badass woman, who fears no one. She borderline bullies her way to what she wants, while still maintaining her image as a noble. But she also struggles. For example, she doesn’t get laid enough. What I am trying to prove here is that we are allowed to gain really intimate insight into some of the characters, which helps us build a relationship with them. 



If I would have to describe the whole story in one word it would be: down-to-earth. I loved that John Scalzi was bold enough to have his characters curse. It is very easy to do so and it is very easy to do so in a wrong way. However, in this case, I felt like it always fit the character. Take Lady Kiva Lagos and her mother as an example. It makes sense for those two to not shy away from cursing. It fits their character so well. And therefore, it only increases the characters authenticity. 



This brings me to another point I want to mention. John Scalzi’s writing style. His style of writing is very accessible and easy to read. You can read the book rather quickly and you never stumble upon an unnecessary word or phrase, which might throw you off. John Scalzi also finds the perfect balance between seriousness and light-heartedness. He manages to sneak a little joke or funny sentence in a scene that might be very serious but he does it in a way that, again, fits the situation and does not put you off. 

This makes the book so much fun to read, because you always got something to smile about – or well, most of the time.


And speaking of smiling. I was a big fan of those sequences where Lady Kiva Lagos was kicking ass. I was so much fun to read how confident and without fear she proceeded and managed to get the best out of so many situations that look horrible for her. It made me smile a lot! On a similar note; I loved the names of the ships. Yes Sir, That’s My Baby, If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out and so on and so forth. It was a nice little touch that lightened up the book a little. 



Finally, I want to say that the book was indeed very different than most other works in Sci-Fi. They tend to me similar in terms of concepts, overall tone and characters. Not this one, The Collapsing Empire was a new, fresh and funny take on classic Sci-Fi. I was very appreciative of this, as it was a different lecture to what I was used to. I am definitely looking very forward to reading the next two books in the series and possibly some other books by John Scalzi, as well. 



Finally, my recommendation. I think anyone could like this. Due to its uniqueness, it cannot be compared to other books. The only thing that comes to my mind is the Skulduggery Pleasant series, which has a very similar feel – writing style-wise. Other than that, I think you should give it a try and you will soon be able to ascertain whether or not you would want to continue reading. I think you will not be able to stop, though! 



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