The Killing of Worlds: Book Two of Succession

by Scott Westerfeld

Review by James J. Walton

The Killing of Worlds is the continuation of Westerfield's The Risen Empire. It begins a few seconds after the end of the first book and will be of interest only to people who've read the first volume. After a brief synopsis of the proceeding book Worlds returns us to the action.

Gallant Captain Laurent Zai and his crew take the ship Lynx into battle against the approaching Rix ship, knowing the Emperor has marked them for death.

While there is plenty of action in The Killing of Worlds it seems subdued in comparison to the first book. We are more concerned with the relationships between the captain and his crew and the political intrigue back on the Imperial planet.

Imperial Senator Nara Oxham, Zai's lover and protector, is engaged in her own battle with the Emperor and his supporters. Her fight to prevent the murder of billions of innocent people is tantamount to treason and threatens the stability of the Imperial government. We learn much more about her strengths as she gains support from unexpected quarters.

I have to wonder why this book was split into two. Both volumes seem padded (though not to excess) to bring them up to word count. A couple of times I wondered why a scene was necessary. Do two slimmer novels sell better than one larger book?

I was disappointed that I didn't enjoy Worlds quite as much as I'd anticipated. The political maneuvering, interesting and important to understanding the background and outcome of the two books, seems to have been much more difficult for Westerfield to write. The book definitely slowed down when Oxham was on stage, which is unfortunate.

At the end we are left with questions about the survival of the Empire and the direction humanity will take. Another series of books perhaps?

I can recommend the two Books of Succession, but I think the original,leaner version would have been much better.

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