Monday, February 19, 2007

Empire by Orson Scott Card

*Spoiler Alert! I give specific plot details in this review. Do not continue if you want to read the book.*

Former Special Ops soldier, Major Reuben Malich now works at the Pentagon. Doing what? Well, that's a mixed bag he's not even sure about. But one thing is certain. The attack he just witnessed unfold, which resulted in the assination of the President, is the same plan he compiled as a possible scenerio a smart enemy might deploy, right down to the weapons.

Now Malich's got an even bigger problem. How will he prove he didn't impliment the plan? Thow into the mix a civil war between Left and Right, and even his side-kick, Captain Coleman (or Cole) finds himself imbedded into a political nightmare he never dared imagine.

The dialogue between these two men is superb.

"If they had five hundred of these things," Reuben said to Cole, "they could scan the whole city. They don't have that many. Not even close."

"I'm not surprised," said Cole. "What do you think it takes to build one of those? Two million? Six?"

"Real costs or Pentagon costs?" asked Reuben.

"Microsoft costs."

"These are not a Microsoft product," said Reuben.

"Developed in secret, though."

"Yeah, but they don't lock up."

The most shocking part of this story is what happens in chapter fifteen. In one, brief line, Malich is killed. I had to read it three times to be sure. And I will be honest. I did briefly consider putting the book down. Malich is a rich character (as if Card could write any other kind), but I had to know what happened to Cole, who Card had steadily built into more than a secondary character. I wondered about that earlier in the book, but never imagined Card would kill off his protagonist. Bold move!

Clearly Card had a political agenda for this book as well. The subtitle on the cover (A disturbing look at a possible future.) is fair warning. Based on a premise by Donald Mustard, Card says building a fiction story about a near-future American civile war "was, sadly enough, all too easy."

Still, the book's a great read. Card is a master of pacing and characterization. Empire is not only entertaining, but perhaps a tad eye-opening as well.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Captain Coleman sounds like a comic book hero. Come on, say it with me. Captian Coleman to the rescue! With one fist on hip and the other hand reaching toward the sky.