A Review of At Empire’s Edge

At Empire's EdgeAt Empire’s Edge by William C. Dietz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this sci fi novel by William Dietz. It was fast moving and action packed, particularly as the novel progressed. It’s military sci fi, so if you go for that, it’s a good book.

The book is about Jak Cato, a Xeno Corps officer, who is bringing in and guarding an extremely dangerous shapeshifting alien named Verafti, a Sagathi. Things really go wrong early on as another group of aliens, the Vord, attack Cato’s ship, forcing it to land to make repairs. They find themselves on the planet Dantha, which has limited resources for repairing the spacecraft because of the narcissistic ruler, Nalomy, who is plundering the planet’s resources. Nalomy soon realizes the benefit of having a dangerous criminal around because Usurlus, the emperor’s representative, is coming from Corin to confront Nalomy and take away her rule. She thus wants Verafti to assassinate Usurlus and sends men to ambush Cato’s troops in order to recruit the Sagathi to act as her assassin.

Cato is in the main town looking for supplies for his troop out in the desert with Verafti, but his primary downfall is drink, so he gets drunk. And misses Nalomy’s assassins killing his colleagues in their outpost. When he later arrives to discover their bodies, he vows vengeance, as well as a promise to recapture Verafti. During his travels, he picks up some companions in a robot and a creature that resembles an Ewok from Star Wars. Together they raid a hideout of some winged warriors who assassinated his crew, escape after a shootout, make their way to Solace, the main city, and look for the answers to their questions. Other characters are introduced, including a slave girl who turns into a somewhat unnecessary romance for Cato, and an underground dedicated to replacing Nalomy with justice. Toward the end of the novel, the planet’s militia is on the lookout for Cato, now an assumed criminal, as he looks out for Verfafti and for a way to warn Usurlus that he’s the target of a soon-to-be assassination attempt.

I won’t give away the ending, but the book builds to a climax that I found immensely satisfying, while leaving open the opportunity for the requisite sequel, which I now must read. Who lives and who dies? You’ll have to read it to find out, but it is action packed and well written. It seems no stone is left unturned. Dietz does a nice job of tying everything together for the reader, especially when it seems like all might be lost. This isn’t the best sci fi I’ve read, but it was immensely enjoyable and as such, it’s recommended.

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