5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Two assassination attempts against the Throne have failed spectacularly in the last five years. One by Sector Governor Piotr Shubin and the other by the plutocratic ruling families of the old Democracy of Planets.
All that has resulted from the families’ failed attempt to assassinate Empress Arsinoe is the families’ spies being caught, the families’ allies being recruited to the Throne, and much of the families’ wealth being confiscated.
So the plutocratic ruling families of the old Democracy of Planets hatch a new, simpler plan to overthrow the Empire. Nuke Imperial City!
Troy Donahue and Travis Geary race to find and disable the nuke, while the Emperor and Empress contemplate a draconian final solution to the plutocrat families.
The plutocrats plan to nuke Imperial City?
As a rather spectacular means of assassination. Yes. It has the additional benefit of destroying much of the structure of the Imperial government as well. They hope to pick up the pieces in the aftermath.
Doesn’t Imperial City have protections against bombardment?
Of course. So their plan is more subtle: smuggle a nuke into the city. A ten-megaton ship-to-ship warhead doesn’t have to be in the Imperial Palace to accomplish their goals. Close counts with nuclear weapons, particularly big ones. They’ll kill at least fifty million people in the capital, and tens or hundreds of trillions will die in the ensuing chaos and civil war, but they don’t care, as long as they can grab power.
So the bad guys are the plutocrats once again. Who are the good guys this time?
The Co-Consul and his wife, the Imperial Investigations Office, the Zoo, the Imperial Marines and the Imperial Police are all here. The Department, of course, and Pitney, Donahue, Odom, and Dickens are back. And some Imperial Marine Academy cadets – Travis Geary, Nathan Benton, and their friend Sean Boyle – step in to play a surprising role.
Assuming the immediate threat is overcome, what is the Throne’s solution to these repeated attempts?
One solution is to kill them all, all billion or so descendants of the original plotters against the Emperor Trajan. But an opportunity presents itself to adopt a more subtle solution, and Burke shows her growing finesse and wisdom as a ruler.
What’s next for EMPIRE?
Stephanie Osborn in working on the Section Six Trilogy – EMPIRE books #10, #11, and #12 – and there is a possibility for her to write the Department Trilogy, about Pitney, Donahue, Dickens, and Odom. That would be EMPIRE books #19, #20, and #21. Then I think EMPIRE is complete.
What’s next for you, then?
I’m working up a new universe, a new series, called Galactic Survey. It’s about one way humanity might get to the stars.

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