Reviews of Foundation and Empire (1952)
Review by enderwiggin (2009-09-11)
My previous book review was written about Isaac Asimov's book Foundation. This science fiction book has come to be one of the most famous in science fiction history. The first sequel written about this book, titled Foundation and Empire, is the subject of this review.
Foundation and Empire is even better than its predecessor. The novel is split up into two parts: "Part I: The General" and "Part II: The Mule". The whole novel is mostly about the war between the Foundation, the organization established by Hari Seldon; and the Empire.
Part I is about General Bel Riose of the Empire as he plays a key role in the war between the Foundation and the Empire. It is also about Emperor Cleon II (current monarch of the Empire), Ducem Barr (a man from the planet Siwenna), and Lathan Devers (a trader from the Foundation). The Foundation is a small entity compared to the beast of the Empire, but they must hold their ground if they intend for the Seldon Plan to succeed.
Part II takes place about 100 years later, after the Empire is much weaker than it had been, and it relates the rise of the Mule. The Mule is a very powerful man whose goal is to reinstate the Empire, thus becoming the sovereign of the Universe. Under the Mule, the Empire fights the Foundation, and it seems that they have met their most dangerous foe. Not much is known about the Mule at all, and Part II is told from the point of view of Toran and Bayta Darell, a newlywed couple from a trading planet belonging to the Foundation.
Foundation and Empire surpasses Foundation in my opinion. Whereas the first book had five short parts to it, each with their unique characters and scenarios, the second book has only two parts. The characters are much more developed and the story-line is much easier to understand in Foundation and Empire. Isaac Asimov proves here for the second time his prowess at writing.
Review by johnafair (2006-01-03)
in a way this book is actually one of the more traditionally space opera type books that Asimov wrote.
The Foundation has expanded greatly now and on the edges of the galaxy, it's the Power. But the Empire has not fallen completely yet and in the form of its greatest remaining general, Bel Riose, it is beginning to expand outwards once more. Can a couple of men, a Trader of the Foundation and a rebel Patrician of the Empire, stop the weight of the Empire crushing the Foundation, or has a dead hand already taken action?
With the Empire finally dead, the Foundation should have been free to expand at its own pace to fulfil the predictions of Hari Seldon. Of course there are the desparate remnants of the Free Traders but they can be ignored, and there are warlords scattered throughout the galaxy, but they know their place too so no-one to worry the plutocratic classes tht now hold the Foundation in a new stasis. Or is there? A new warlord has arisen. One who won victories out of the blue, one known as the Mule. Someone who shake even the Foundation!
Another rare thing with the second story, 'The Mule', is the presence of Bayta Darrell, probably the most rounded of Asimov's female characters, not that she has much competition!