John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire is the first book in a brand new series from the author of Old Man’s War. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Scalzi’s writing. I really like most of his Old Man’s War series, but am not a big fan of almost everything else he’s done. He’s a really good writer who knows how to keep you turning the page, but after you’re done, you realize it’s pretty forgettable. And that’s the problem I had with The Collapsing Empire.
The basic ideas in The Collapsing Empire are interesting. You have a new Emperox who wasn’t groomed for leadership and an interstellar transportation system that isn’t as stable as everyone thinks. So it’s a great setting for a series. However, the sum is much less than the parts. The book jumps between several characters yet is too short (around 300 pages) to get a handle on any of them. They all seem to have one big tick that makes them unique otherwise you probably couldn’t tell them apart.
But I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t like the book. It was perfectly adequate and it kept my attention while I was reading it. But I just was expecting…more. I was expecting something closer to Dune or A Song of Ice and Fire. This book seemed to have that ambition, but it falls well short.
Since I did somewhat enjoy the book, I will most likely read the sequel (coming in 2019). And I hope that the book really goes into a more epic story since I really want to like it. Mildly recommended.