Series: Empire Without End #1
Release Date: November 8th 2022
Publisher: Orbit Books
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
A spectacular space opera debut perfect for readers of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice and Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire, inspired by the lives and loves of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar.
Princess Altagracia has lost everything. After a bloody civil war, her twin sister has claimed not just the crown of their planet Szayet but the Pearl of its prophecy, a computer that contains the immortal soul of Szayet’s god. Stripped of her birthright, Gracia flees the planet—just as Matheus Ceirran, Commander of the interstellar Empire of Ceiao, arrives in deadly pursuit with his volatile lieutenant, Anita. When Gracia and Ceirran’s paths collide, Gracia sees an opportunity to win back her planet, her god, and her throne…if she can win the Commander and his right-hand officer over first.
But talking her way into Ceirran’s good graces, and his bed, is only the beginning. Dealing with the most powerful man in the galaxy is almost as dangerous as war, and Gracia is quickly torn between an alliance that fast becomes more than political and the wishes of the god—or machine—that whispers in her ear. For Szayet’s sake, and her own, Gracia will need to become more than a princess with a silver tongue. She will have to become a queen as history has never seen before—even if it breaks an empire.
The Stars Undying is an epic space opera debut that follows Altagracia, a young princess that lost everything when her twin sister claimed the crown. With no choice but to go on the run, Gracia soon runs into Matheus Ceirran, the deadly Commander of the Empire of Ceiao. Gracia knows Ceirran could be her ticket to reclaiming her birthright, but only if she can win him over first.
I must admit that two of the main things that drew me to this book was the absolutely stunning cover and the tag line that the story is inspired by the lives of Julius Ceasar and Cleopatra. It has been a while since I’ve read a science fiction book that completely captivated me, but that’s exactly what The Stars Undying did. The story is quite quick paced, with really beautiful writing. It’s the sort of book that you think about even when you aren’t reading it and I often found I was itching to get home at the end of the day to find out what would happen next.
The world building is incredibly detailed and it did take me a little while to get to grips with the different worlds and their beliefs. While I know bits and pieces about Ceasar and Cleopatra, I don’t know loads about their history. I noticed some parallels but I think even if you knew nothing about the historical figures, you would be completely gripped by this story. The story is told in alternating points of view and I was fascinated by both Gracia and Ceirran. Both characters felt so well crafted and developed – it was so intriguing to watch their relationship progress as they’re such determined and power hungry characters.
The Stars Undying is a richly told, unforgettable space opera that I could not put down. If you’re looking for a science fiction retelling that will have you on the edge of your seat, look no further. This is an incredibly impressive debut and without a doubt my favourite science fiction book of 2022. I cannot wait to see what happens in book two.