Welcome to the End of Empire.
Set over two hundred years from now, in a world very much like Imperial Rome, this is the story of General Peter Black, the last decent man, as told through the eyes of his devoted (and illegitimate) daughter, Justa.
Raised on battlefields, more comfortable in the company of hard men of war than with women or other children, Justa must keep the truth of her birth hidden. Her father regards her as an embarrassment, a reminder of his one and only indiscretion. Yet she is a remarkable woman, one whose keen mind wins her an education at the feet of Emperor Mathias the Glistening himself.
All his life, General Black served the noble emperor, and, out of loyalty to the father, continues to serve his son after Mathias's death, even as the son's reign degenerates into an insane tyranny worthy of Nero or Caligula. As the rule of the empire passes from father to son with disastrous results, a strange metal plague begins slowly destroying the empire's technology, plunging the realm into chaos and the world into war. Amid the destruction and upheaval, General Black must decide whether to turn his back on the men and institutions who never loved him nearly as much as he did them, or whether to save his most trusted ally and adviser, his best friend and only real family.
The Martian General's Daughter is a gripping tale of a world at war; of cunning strategies and vile politics; of bravery, foolishness, and excess. It is at once a stirring military adventure, a cautionary tale of repeating history, a cutting satire, and a heartbreaking examination of the joys and pain inherent in the love between a father and child. Judson's previous novel was selected in multiple best-of-the-year lists. With The Martian General's Daughter, he offers another must-read epic destined to take its place in the canon of science fiction, and sure to appeal to readers of everything from Orson Scott Card to Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Despite its pulpish title, this erudite and intriguing novel is more in the tradition of Robert Graves than Edgar Rice Burroughs. By the 23rd century, when a nanotech plague has crippled the world's hardware, much of the northern hemisphere is under the mostly capable and benevolent control of the U.S.-descended Pan-Polarian Empire. But Emperor Mathias the Glistening is dead, and the empire is in the hands of his increasingly psychotic son, Luke Anthony. The balance of power is controlled by Gen. Peter Black, a former sergeant who rose from the ranks to lead the imperial armies. Judson (Fitzpatrick's War) chronicles the last glories of the empire as viewed by Black's illegitimate daughter, whose own rise from unwanted embarrassment to valued adviser and aide parallels her father's career. The story might be familiar to today's readers from the film Gladiator, but the parallels it draws between Roman and American cultures are both perceptive and disquieting. (Apr.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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March 31, 2008
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