Continuing from my review of Foundation (book 1)
just a few days ago, this is my take on volume 2 of the iconic original trilogy. The title Foundation and Empire
is something of a misnomer as the Galactic Empire has already faded in this book and its function is more like a prop than a player. When I first looked at the titles of the books in this trilogy in my teens I was also a little confused that [b:Second Foundation|29580|Second Foundation (Foundation, #3)|Isaac Asimov|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320416089s/29580.jpg|64823] is actually the third
book! Still, at least I didn't make the mistake of reading [b:Second Foundation|29580|Second Foundation (Foundation, #3)|Isaac Asimov|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320416089s/29580.jpg|64823] before Foundation and Empire
; that would have sucked.
(#1) Foundation and Empire
is not a fix-up novel of several connected stories but it does consist of two novellas, “The General” and “The Mule ”. “The General” (Part 1 of the book) is indeed about “Foundation and Empire” where the Foundation comes under attack by the last remnant of the Galactic Empire led by the formidable General Bel Riose. The rather lame hero of the Foundation on this occasion is one Lathan Devers who does not actually outwit the Empire here but won because according to Hari Seldon’s arcane psychohistory algorithm it is statistically impossible for the Foundation to lose, almost like a preordainment.
It's interesting that I remember nothing about this shorter Part 1 of Foundation and Empire
from my previous read decades ago. “The General” is a likable novella but it lacks compelling characters and, unlike previous Foundation stories, does not feature cunning heroics. It passes the time pleasantly enough but is basically just a warm up for the monumental Part 2 “The Mule”.
“The Mule” is kind of like The Foundation meets X-Men, well, may be not as we are only talking about one villainous insidious mutant with mental powers. I remember very well what happen in this part of the book in spite of having read it decades ago. I do have memory like a sieve so kudos to prof Asimov for writing something so unforgettable. “The Mule” is a fantastic villain, insidious and devious yet oddly sympathetic and pitiful. Anybody who says Asimov writes flat characters should have The Mule change his mind for him.
The less I say about this part of the book the netter I think. As this is a reread of a story I remember quite well the element of surprise is not there for me at the book’s denouement. In any case even for new readers Asimov did hint fairly strongly about the Mule’s identity in previous chapters. I envy you if you have not read Foundation and Empire
before or if you have read but possess an even worse memory than mine (well, may be the latter not so much).
Going straight on to [b:Second Foundation|29580|Second Foundation (Foundation, #3)|Isaac Asimov|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320416089s/29580.jpg|64823] without a bathroom break.