In Evil Times: Exciting and entertaining, despite the problems

In Evil Times by Melinda Snodgrass science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsIn Evil Times by Melinda Snodgrass science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsIn Evil Times by Melinda Snodgrass

In Evil Times (2017) is the second book in Melinda Snodgrass’s IMPERIALS saga. You’ll want to read The High Ground first. (Expect spoilers for that novel in this review.)

At the end of The High Ground we left Tracy (smart low-class scholarship student) in despair when his friend/nearly lover Mercedes (heir to the imperial throne) ditched him for a more suitable (noble) match. Poor Tracy.

After enduring his graduation ceremony and Mercedes and Boho’s wedding, Tracy is assigned to a spaceship at a much lower rank than his higher-class fellow students. As he goes about his duties for his empire, he keeps getting passed up for promotions while being required to engage in some activities whose ethics he questions.

Meanwhile Mercedes is having her own troubles with her position as heir and, personally, with her consort Boho. She needs to prove her worth as a military officer and provide the empire with an heir.

Melinda Snodgrass

Melinda Snodgrass

Eventually Tracy and Mercedes’ duties collide in an unsettling way, leading to even more tension between them as well as some nasty legal consequences. When we leave them at the end of In Evil Times, it looks like we might be heading toward war.

Like its predecessor, In Evil Times is fast-paced with lots of action. The story, which spans years, is exciting, but Snodgrass’s world doesn’t feel quite solid and some aspects of the society and the plot just don’t ring true. For example, we’re told that after aliens were discovered, human races no longer mattered to people, yet this same society has very strict class segregation. I find this hard to believe. Also difficult to swallow was Tracy’s experience in the legal system — his failure to try to defend himself and his inability to find anyone to speak on his behalf. Both of our heroes have undergone disappointing personality changes that also don’t feel right. And the use of American slang/expressions that were popular in 2016 (and have already faded away) doesn’t help.

It’s easy to notice the deficits in this series but, in truth, I enjoyed the story and am eager to find out what happens next to Tracy and Mercedes. I’m enjoying the audiobook version produced by Tantor Audio and read by Nicole Poole. The next book is called The Hidden World. I think there will be five books in the IMPERIALS saga.

Published in 2017. Thracius Tracy Belmanor and the Infanta Mercedes de Arango have graduated from The High Ground and have become officers in the Orden de la Estrella. Tracy’s posting aboard a battleship leads him to further doubt the intentions of the Solar League, as he and his comrades are required to assimilate the settlers of a Hidden World. Meanwhile, Mercedes own posting and her difficult marriage to Beauregard Boho Cullen, made to assure her succession of the throne divides her loyalties. In a society where most humans and all aliens are second-class citizens, the two young officers will have difficult choices to make.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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