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The Crystal Empire [Paperback]

L. Neil Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Feb. 17 2010
"Impressively Imagined" -Kirkus Reviews **** Earth is ruled by three mighty empires: The Saracen-Jewish Empire led by the Caliph of Rome, the Mughal-Arab Empire, ferocious in its determination to destroy its neighbor, and the great Sino-Aztec's Crystal Empire, led by a living God. **** Little is known about the Crystal Empire, which spans most of western America. But it is the most powerful force surviving on Earth and its might is unchallenged. **** One man, however, will change that. Sedrich Sedrichsohn, a legendary fallen fighter, has a chance at redemption and nothing will stand in his way to reclaim his life and his purpose, even if he must fight the Sun-God himself. **** "A vibrant, science-fiction epic filled with verve, dash and inventive characters. It's creative, and it's fun, a fine bit of escapist fare for winter reading" -The Chatanooga Times

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4.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Dec 26 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
L. Neil Smith is most noted for his libertarian works. This novel is a bit different. It may be a study or lesson in libertarianism but if so I missed the lesson. That is not to say the novel is boring or not worth the read. Far from it. This is an alternate history novel and one done very well.
In L. Neil Smiths future the Europeans and Christians or gone due to a plague which was far more demonstrous then the one encountered in our timeline. This is a very similar premise to what Kim Stanley Robinson used 15 years later in his "Years of Rice and Salt". Smith does it better. In this novel the event change had a clear plot purpose where as in Robinson's novel I never quite got the point.
A densely written novel which requires careful reading and can not be skimmed through. If you give the novel the effort is deserving of you will enjoy the encounter. A worthy novel which should come back into print.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Dec 26 2003
By Peter Dykhuis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
L. Neil Smith is most noted for his libertarian works. This novel is a bit different. It may be a study or lesson in libertarianism but if so I missed the lesson. That is not to say the novel is boring or not worth the read. Far from it. This is an alternate history novel and one done very well.
In L. Neil Smiths future the Europeans and Christians or gone due to a plague which was far more demonstrous then the one encountered in our timeline. This is a very similar premise to what Kim Stanley Robinson used 15 years later in his "Years of Rice and Salt". Smith does it better. In this novel the event change had a clear plot purpose where as in Robinson's novel I never quite got the point.
A densely written novel which requires careful reading and can not be skimmed through. If you give the novel the effort is deserving of you will enjoy the encounter. A worthy novel which should come back into print.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars L Neil Smiths Most Amazing Story Ever. May 12 2013
By Steven Vandervelde - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Chrystal Empire is an outstanding example of parallel history. Smith demonstrates both the depth of his understanding of history and an amazing ability to construct an alternate version of events based on one major event that changes everything. I studied history. Much of real history is a horror story. In that regard Smith does not hold any punches. He created a horrifying alternative and a protagonist to meet it head on.
5.0 out of 5 stars I like this best, a stand-alone novel in a unique world. Nov. 21 2013
By B. Kaufman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My favorite novel by LNS. I reread this often, and it never fails to satisfy. Word1 Word2 Word3 Word4 Word5
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! Oct. 19 2008
By Z. Sand - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This could be the best Science Fiction book ever written, certainly among the top ten!
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably my favorite alternate history novel July 6 2007
By J. R Weaver - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have a very strange relationship with this novel, and more specifically, its author. L. Neil Smith is probably one of the most recognizable libertarian scifi authors around. I personally find libertarianism ridiculously naive, and since the majority of Smith's books deal with libertarian themes, I have a hard time taking them seriously or enjoying them.

The Crystal Empire, however, is not one of those. It is an alternate history novel, pure and simple. As another reviewer said, if there was a libertarian message in this one, I missed it. Thankfully.

The plot deals with the adventures of Sedrich Sedrichson, a native of a small Vinland-ish settlement in eastern North America - one of the last remnants of European culture in this world, founded by people fleeing a Black Plague that almost completely decimated Europe. Sedrich has been tasked with delivering the daughter of the Caliph of the Saracen-Jewish Empire, which dominates most of Europe, to her future husband, the god-like emperor of a strange and amazing Sino-Aztec empire in the far west of America.

Sedrich is a pretty sympathetic character, as is Ayesha, the Caliph's daughter. Their interaction, their chemistry, is great, and their story is evocative of the best of classic literature. If Shakespeare collaborated on an alternate history novel with George RR Martin, this might be the result. Yes, it's that good, in my opinion.

So... an author whose works and personal philosophy I find idiotic has managed to turn out what is probably my favorite alternate history novel, one which I re-read every couple of years. Very odd. At any rate, if anyone out there has been turned off of Smith after his Probability Broach universe novels, I urge you to give this one a try, and possibly Henry Martyn, also by Smith, which is fairly decent as well.
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