Imperial Sunset (Ashes of Empire #1) by Eric Thomson
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ out of 5 stars
Humanity’s thousand-year-old interstellar empire has been rotting from the inside for over a century, thanks to venal, corrupt, and power-hungry sovereigns from a dynasty many consider illegitimate. The latest in that lineage, an increasingly psychotic empress, is pushing her realm toward catastrophic collapse as admirals and generals rebel against her rule. That rebellion quickly drags the once mighty Imperial Fleet into a devastating fratricidal conflict between factions.
With civil war raging across human space, a Navy torn asunder can no longer protect frontier colonies, and barbarians long confined to the galactic badlands see an opportunity. After generations of hard existence on worlds beyond the bounds of human civilization, they hold life cheap, especially that of others. The barbarians will gladly steal everything they find and condemn defenseless star systems to technological and demographic collapse. That is if they don’t wipe them out entirely from sheer bloodlust or by selling survivors on alien slave markets.
One man, Captain Jonas Morane of the cruiser Vanquish, saw the empire’s collapse coming years before the first admiral rebelled. When he finds himself the senior surviving officer of a loyalist Navy unit almost entirely annihilated by rebels, Morane puts in motion a plan he developed long ago. This plan was designed to not only save his ships and crews from certain death but keep humanity’s accumulated knowledge from being obliterated by the long night of barbarism. However, before his dream can become a reality, Morane must lead the remains of the 197th Imperial Battle Group through an intricate wormhole network across a shattered empire, dodging his former colleagues from both sides, to the sanctuary he selected. Along the way, he rescues an Imperial Marine Corps Pathfinder battalion and the survivors of a religious order known for its mysticism from certain death, and enlists them in his cause. But will Morane’s sanctuary survive both the flames of rebellion and the depredations of invading marauders before his rag-tag fleet can reach it?
The general theme of this book is one that has been done a fair number of times before. The world, in this case The Human Empire, is collapsing. A lone star ship takes off to save the remains of humanity.
It obviously has a bit of Battlestar Galactica over it. The story also has a bit of Christopher Nuttall’s excellent The Empire’s Corps series over it. These kind of stories can be quite good but I have to confess that I did dread that I would get a yet-another-one-of-those feeling when reading it. Luckily it turned out to be a quite enjoyable read. Maybe not wow great but at least 4 out of 5 kind of good.
As you can see from the book blurb our hero, Captain Jonas Morane and his crew, separates himself from the collapsing empire and takes off towards a sanctuary far away from the imperial core. This book is about the adventures they have in order to escape the clutches of the empire and get to their destination. Very Battlestar Galactica indeed.
However, and there is a bit if a spoiler coming here, unlike Battlestar Galactica they actually do arrive at their destination and here is where I felt some similarities to The Empire’s Corps. Of course, their troubles do not end here so there is plenty of material for future books.
On the whole I thought this book was quite enjoyable. Most of the people are quite likable and the ones who are not usually gets what they deserve in the end. There are plenty of action and suspense and the action is not bad at all. There are also a bit of, shall we say personnel issues, to deal with since not all of the crew were informed about Morane’s plans to rebel until after the fact.
This is the first book in a series and I for one hope the author will continue the series. For once it’s not a series where I picked it up with a whole bunch of books already written so I guess I have to wait until the next book comes out now.