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  • Writer's pictureE. A. Fournier

The Course of Empire (Jao #1) by Eric Flint & K. D. Wentworth

Updated: May 3, 2018

What a wonderfully complex and satisfying novel THE COURSE OF EMPIRE has proven to be. The earth has been a conquered planet for twenty years before the book opens. The Jao, a complex race of aliens divided into competing clans, rule a troublesome earth with a heavy hand when Aille, a young, promising alien diplomat from one of the most influential clans, arrives on earth to take over an important post. Ailee’s journey from naïve newcomer to fully formed world changer is a reading experience to be treasured.

Reminiscent of James Clavell’s incredibly moving SHOGUN, the team of authors, K.D. Wentworth and Eric Flint, take a similar path with their novel and deliver an equally powerful piece. In the case of Clavell, his interwoven plots managed to keep his story fresh and compelling while providing amazing insights into medieval Japanese mindsets and culture. Wentworth and Flint do the same here with the alien Jao.

The Jao are unrelentingly alien but not incomprehensible. It is an absolute delight to experience the story unfolding before you. The situation on earth and within the Jao culture is at a delicate point and all sides to the struggle are not only engaged but scheming. In fact, there are plots within plots and layers upon layers of complexity here. And, ultimately, the very schemers themselves are outwitted. It is a long book at 522 pages but there is not a wasted moment.

The finest element of the story is the reaffirmation of the values to be found in association and community, despite differences between races.

The characters are compelling and complex, multi-dimensional and often surprising in their depth. The plotting is deft and the twists intriguing without ever feeling contrived. A truly memorable work.

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