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The Collapsing Empire: The Interdependency #1    by John Scalzi order for
Collapsing Empire
by John Scalzi
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2018 (2017)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

John Scalzi's brilliant, Machiavellian Interdependency trilogy is set in a far future space empire. Discovery of the Flow, an extradimensional field opening at certain points, allowed easy travel and trade between different planets. Aside from one of them (End), humanity would be unable to survive on any on its own, hence interdependency. Unfortunately the Flow isn't fixed, though its entry and exit points have been stable for centuries, with Hub, the empire's capital, at the centre. That's about to change as The Collapsing Empire opens.

There are many plot threads to follow in this extraordinary trilogy, but the main ones relate to the very new emperox of the Interdependency; a scientist tasked with communicating the looming catastrophe to an empire in denial; and the daughter of a powerful merchant family with a monopoly on citrus.

Though a daughter of the previous emperox, Cardenia was not groomed for the position that no-one expected her to assume. However, the deaths of her half-brother and her father gave her no choice. The assassination attempts begin on her Coronation day, when she becomes Emperox Grayland. Fortunately, she has one key resource - access to the Memory Room, that allows her to interact with the thoughts and memories of every past emperox. It makes for interesting conversations!

Foul-mouthed Kiva Lagos is a daughter of an important merchant house. Readers meet her aboard a ship to End (the only Interdependency planet able to support human life on its own). On arrival, she has to deal with a plot by a rival merchant family (the House of Nohamapetan who are the villains of the piece) before returning to Hub.

On End, Marce Claremont grew up to become a scientist like his father Jamies, and assists him with his model on the collapse of Flow streams. Now, with the stream from End to Hub about to collapse, Jamies sends his son to advise the emperox of the crisis. Marce ends up traveling on Kiva's ship. When he briefs Cardenia on what's coming, there's an immediate attraction between them.

This engrossing, action-packed introduction ends on a cliffhanger for all of humanity and sets the scene nicely for what's to follow. Can Marce and Cardenia put together a plan to save at least a portion of humanity, and will Emperox Grayland survive for long enough to do it?

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