Alexander Napier never wanted to be a soldier. But on the planet Gaulle, if the Emperor's press gangs find you, saying no is not an option. Alex wears a holographic tattoo of the Emperor's Own Corps, but he knows the marks of his service that don't show are the ones that count most. Meanwhile, on the merchant starship named The Queen Bee, captain and owner Madeline PallestAlexander Napier never wanted to be a soldier. But on the planet Gaulle, if the Emperor's press gangs find you, saying no is not an option. Alex wears a holographic tattoo of the Emperor's Own Corps, but he knows the marks of his service that don't show are the ones that count most. Meanwhile, on the merchant starship named The Queen Bee, captain and owner Madeline Pallestrino balances meeting her payroll with smuggling weapons to help the rebel cause on Gaulle, all the while fighting her growing attraction to one of her crewman. To all appearances, astrogator Thaddeus Jenner is an autistic savant who can handle six dimensional math but not make everyday conversation; Maddy's not especially interested in conversation, but she doesn't want to exploit him, either. On Gaulle, one of Maddy's legitimate customers is Count Peter Barranca, an aristocrat who represents the old order of the empire headed by the ruthless and inbred du Plessis family. As these people's paths intersect, secrets are uncovered, old loyalties are tested, and new alliances are formed on both personal and political levels. Shades of Empire puts a Caligula-esque story in a space opera setting and leavens the mix with touches of humor and romance....
|Title||:||Shades of Empire|
|Format Type||:||Kindle Edition|
|Number of Pages||:||347 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Shades of Empire Reviews
Alexander had come up with a plan to help Celia leave the palace, but they were caught. What would happen to them was not for the faint of heart.Pilot Carmela woke Captain Madeline up with on edge of excitement in her voice. They had come across a life pod capable of holding twelve people and it had Imperial markings on it. What could it be doing out here? They shuttled over to the pod and found it welded shut with the Emperor's seal. Madeline figured that if Emperor Lothar didn't want it open that was a good reason to open it. They heard voices so hurriedly broke the seal. They found one man, breathing, naked, totally immobilized, looking like he had been beaten within an inch of his life. All of a sudden a mechanical arm appeared and injected the man, a holographic image came on and showed a woman being beaten, raped and worse. When the man's life support mask was removed the doctor showed Madeline the gold lines that proved he was one of the Emperor's soldiers.Queen Bee was a smuggling ship and shouldn't have been where the pod was. If Alexander wanted to stay with the ship, Madeline would be happy to have him. Alex was surprised that his conviction for treason didn't bother her. She laughed and told him that most of her crew were deserters who didn't want to be kidnapped and forced to become o soldier for the Emperor.Alexander was to bunk with the astrogator, Thaddeus, who everyone thought was an idiot savant. His conversations were short and to the point, no small talk. When Thaddeus woke Alexander from his nightmare, he spoke intelligently and appeared to more normal than before. Who was Thaddeus? Idiot during the day, rational human at night? What was he hiding?Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.Carmen's books seem to start out with me not sure if I'm going to like them and before I know it I'm so engrossed I can't put it down. She always has a lot of twists and turn in her stories. This book had some good ones that I didn't want to give away, so my synopsis of the story is short. Covers usually draw me to the book first and the brilliant colors caught my eye. There were numerous places where the crew was teasing Thaddeus and it made me laugh. Her blend of humor and horror always make for a lively read. I have read several other books by her. They are varied and all worth the read so be sure to look for them.Shades of Empire Carmen Webster Buxton
“Shades of Empire” by Carmen Webster Buxton is a Science Fiction novel set in her ThreeCon Universe. The novel follows events on the planet Gaulle which is ruled by a brutal, decadent Emperor. He forcibly drafts his male subjects into his army and, in the case of women, into his personal harem or military brothels. When, Alexander, a soldier in the Imperial Guard attempts to rescue a concubine, he is caught and sent into Space, contained within a lifepod where he is forced to watch the rape and torture of the concubine over and over again. However, as luck would have it, a passing smuggler rescues him from his torment and so begins an adventure involving, the imperial family, rebellions and ThreeCon’s own espionage network.The first thing I need to mention here is that the book does contain a fair amount of unsettling elements. There is nothing graphic or explicit but there is quite a lot of rape present and even an incestuous relationship. For me, it wasn’t overdone and it helped to really drive home the decadence of the society and people on Gaulle but I suspect some readers may be turned off by its rather constant presence.I found the story itself to be very interesting with a good mixture of action, intrigue and suspense. The beginning was a little bit slow as Buxton tried to introduce her vast array of characters but once they were all in place the pace picked up adequately. This large quantity of characters really pushed home the point that the book is on the whole a character driven story. You really get to see the story from everyone’s point of view, the rebels, the Imperial family and the various external forces. The characters themselves were a mixed bag, there are people in there for you to love, people to hate and people that you just wish had been developed further. In the end though Buxton only has so many pages to try and explore everyone but it would have been nice to have seen a bit more development of the “bad guys” such as the Emperor and his sister as there was no real explanation for their decadence and brutality. The one character that really stood out to be however was Peter Barranca, he was wonderfully developed with a sense of decency that shown quite brightly against the darkness which surrounded him.Overall, this was another thoroughly enjoyable Buxton novel that tries to provide the reader with a story from everyone’s point of view. Yes, this large array of characters does result in some lacking in development and slow initial period but the final result is entertaining and interesting to behold.
What attracted me to this book was the author's description of it – multiple interesting-sounding characters whose paths intersect, plus lots of potential for political intrigue. Sadly, although it did turn out to be an interesting read, it's probably my least favorite of Buxton's works so far. The main reason for that? Two words: rape fatigue.One male character was raped, but, for the most part, women had it worse. In this book, if you were female, you were probably either raped or threatened with rape. On-page rape was relatively rare and I don't recall any of it being graphically described. There were just so many references to rape, period. A woman in the Emperor's harem who tried to run away was raped by a monster as punishment. Antonio, the Emperor's son, wasn't fit to be around human beings – not only was he a rapist, he was an incestuous rapist. Maddy, the captain of a merchant spaceship, was threatened with rape by one of her crew members. Girls in villages like the one Alexander, one of the Emperor's Own Corps of Guards, grew up in all lived with the threat of rape and were sometimes scarred by their own parents in an effort to avoid being captured and put to work as prostitutes. The list goes on. It probably didn't help that I started reading this shortly after I stalled on the first season of Game of Thrones, outraged that the writers had inserted rape scenes where the book had had none.Moving on. The book takes a while to get going, and I thought the second half was more interesting that the first. By the second half, all the players were finally in motion and (mostly) had all their cards on the table for readers to see. There were several storylines, but they all tied together in one way: could the Emperor be overthrown without throwing the Empire into complete chaos or putting someone worse in his place? Readers got a look at the players involved in pretty much every aspect of the conflict: the rebels, those aiding the rebels, and the Imperial family. The various storylines could, for the most part, be mapped to the book's various romantic relationships.Initially, my favorite romantic couple was Maddy and Thad, because of all that lovely romantic tension brewing just under the surface. When they became an actual couple (sort of), I grew less interested in them and eventually came to prefer Peter Barranca and the mystery woman he was required to sleep with in order to hide the fact that his marriage was a sham. In general, Peter was my favorite character, and probably another reason why I preferred the second half of the book to the first.Although having all those characters in the book meant that readers had lots of “favorite character” and “favorite hated character” options, one drawback was that the characters weren't explored in the kind of depth I would have liked. I felt like I knew many of the characters in only a surface-level kind of way, with Alexander being one of the biggest exceptions. I understood Cassandra a little better near the end of the book, after she told Alexander a little about how the way she grew up affected her, but I would have liked to have had more of that earlier on.Antonio, Vinitra, and Paznowski were other characters I would have liked to understand better. Okay, so Antonio was a human cesspool, but was he always that way? He was clearly worse than his father. Vinitra was unbelievably passive and so bent to Antonio's will that she might as well have been his puppet. How did Antonio manage to warp her that badly, considering that the Empress did everything she could to stand in his way? And Paznowski. There was an attempt to explain him and his devotion to Antonio, but I didn't buy it. He seemed too smart to put himself under the thumb of a guy like Antonio. It didn't help that I couldn't wrap my brain around the idea of a relatively undamaged person being at all attracted to a guy like Antonio.I actually expected more intrigue and betrayal than I got – for a good chunk of the book, I steeled myself for either Vinitra or Paznowski, or both, to suddenly reveal that they weren't as devoted to Antonio as they seemed. With Vinitra, I think I was hoping she'd become something less pitiful. Paznowski was just a disappointment. He was far more cunning than Antonio, and the way his story ended was a huge waste of potential.The ending is written as being a primarily happy one. I kind of wish there had been a “X years in the future” ending that at least showed the fate of the empire, since I wasn't convinced that its many years of corruption had truly ended. The way the various couples' romances were resolved worked for me, though, even when they were resolved in a more open-ended way.Other Comments:- I really, really could have done without Antonio and Vinitra's on-page sex scene. It was definitely a brain bleach moment.- Although her sexual "policies" weren't my cup of tea, some readers may find Maddy's views on sex to be refreshing. She feels free to have sex as often as she likes, and what happens in the bedroom doesn't need to affect what happens at work. For example, she can have sex with a crew member one day and reprimand him for screwing up on the job the next. She's consistent enough that no crew member expects her to behave otherwise.- Those who are particularly sensitive towards representations of autistic characters may have issues with parts of the beginning of the book. I've only ever met a couple autistic people, so I'm not the best judge, but I was bothered that several characters seemed to equate "stupid" with "autistic," even after they said they didn't.Goodreads Rating Note: If I could, I'd probably give this 2.5 stars. I struggled with the decision to round up or down. On the one hand, there was the rape fatigue and waste of Paznowski. On the other hand, the overall story was interesting, and, yay, Peter Barranca. In the end, I decided to round up.(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)