The Last Emperox is John Scalzi's latest book.

After reviewing The Collapsing Empire, the first book in the Interdependency trilogy, I had high hopes for the series. (You’ll find my review at A promising start to a new series.) I found, and still find after reading John Scalzi’s latest book, that the world Scalzi built for the trilogy is compelling.

Here’s how I described that world nearly three years ago when I reviewed the first book:

  • The forty-seven planets of the Interdependency are scattered far from each other, often tens of light-years distant. Faster-than-light travel is physically impossible, but more than a millennium ago humans had discovered the Flow, a network of streams or tunnels through space-time resembling what other science fiction authors often call wormholes.
  • However, travel through the Flow is not instantaneous. The trip from Hub, the realm’s central planet, to End, the farthest away of the other worlds, takes nine months. Ever since the 26th century, a millennium ago, when the Interdependency was founded, the Flow has been stable. But now the Flow is beginning to collapse—and the Empire will collapse with it.

With a setting like that, a skillful wordsmith could paint a truly engaging picture. And it seemed to me that Scalzi had done just that. Unfortunately, the second book in the trilogy began falling apart early, and the third accomplished that dubious feat even more quickly.

The Collapsing Empire (Interdependency #1)—(2017) 336 pages

The Consuming Fire (Interdependency #2)—(2018) 304 pages

The Last Emperox (Interdependency #3)—(2020) 308 pages

John Scalzi’s latest book is a disappointment

As I’ve observed before, John Scalzi, more than any other contemporary science fiction author I’ve read, panders to the mythical fourteen-year-old boys who are said to be a core audience for the genre. He delights in wise-guy characters and lots of often superfluous action, and he loves four-letter words. Often, many of the adult characters in his novels come across as merely overgrown children. They don’t act in ways that credible grown-ups would be likely to act.

There’s no point sketching out the plot of the three books in this trilogy. (If you feel the need, you can find a plot summary of the first book on Wikipedia.) Just be prepared for subterfuge, betrayal, a dysfunctional family, an abundance of violence, and intrigue beyond the bounds of reality. It’s not worth the time.

For further reading

Previously I’ve reviewed three other novels by John Scalzi that represent the full range of his talent, from great to bad to worse:

For more good reading, check out:

And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, plus a guide to this whole site, on the Home Page.