Waiting for #3 Before Deciding: The Crucible of Empire | Review

The Crucible of Empire - Eric Flint, K. D. Wentworth, Chris Patton, Audible Studios

An uneven, possibly overly long, Adult SF story with some great characters.


When humans and their Jao overlords joined forces in a desperate battle to save the Earth from the malevolent race called the Ekhat, the relationship between the two species was changed forever. Two years later, humans and Jao are learning to work together in an uneasy alliance. Then, in a distant nebula, three Jao ships detect signs of another sentient species during a battle with the Ekhat. Only one of the ships returns, with most of its crew dead or injured.

Ronz sends the Lexington, a massive ship built on Earth and crewed by both human and Jao, to investigate. The Lexington dwarfs any ship ever built by the Jao and even outmasses Ekhat ships, which may enable it to survive the attack that destroyed two of the three Jao ships.


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The Crucible of Empire by Eric Flint & KD Wentworth, read by Chris Patton, published by Audible Studios (2012) / Length: 16 hrs



This is Book #2 of 3 in the "Jao" trilogy. Book #3 was just recently published, and is not currently available on audio.


**This review contains spoilers for the previous book.**



This book was a bit hit or miss for me. There were some parts that I loved, some I didn't enjoy as much, and a few I didn't like at all. In general, it seemed like a side trip. It's been left for the third book to explain why it was necessary.



Tully: Still a favorite. He has really grown & changed, but isn't quite comfortable with that fact yet himself. It is interesting to see a spy who was always on the move try to become a leader.


Caitlyn: I found her sections to be even more boring than in the last book. She is an interesting character, but I just don't enjoy reading things from her POV.


Jihan: I'm with Tully and did not like the Lleix culture at all (although I understand how damaged it is by what has happened to it). That made it difficult to enjoy her parts as much as I might have if she had had different surroundings.


Pranks aside, my favorite new character is Kaln, the female Jao tech. Although, by the end, Terra Captain Dannet was shaping up to be very interesting also.



I would still like to get more details about the state of current Earth society. We are given a deeper understanding of Jao culture, especially as experienced from outside the highest circles. And the Lleix culture is very clearly laid out. There are some great descriptions of their city and it's conditions. Although I didn't like their culture, these latter explorations of their setting and least important residents were good.


Note: there isn't really any acknowledgement of difference in time (i.e. years old) based on your planet.



We begin with Tully, who was one of my favorite characters in the first book. Most of the major characters from before get at least a cameo in the first few chapters. The current time (2 years later) and situation are made clear. It should be easy enough for someone to get oriented even if it's been awhile since they read the first one (or if they haven't).


Unlike the previous book, which had lots of POVs that were all part of the same set of happenings, this book has two different stories that come together in the middle.


Some concepts were repeated too many times after any reasonable reader should have already understood them.


I love the endings. The Ekhat situation isn't resolved, and even the Lleix are still somewhat in limbo, but it is hopeful and sweet.



  • Tully & the surviving Krant officers.
  • Everyone comes together for the first time
  • Tully & the Lleix outcasts


I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: Swearing / the pranks stuff, even if it is central to the plot / anything with Ekhat POV, nasty


OTHER CAUTIONSCaution: There is some discussion of human sexual practices from an outside perspective.



Character voices differentiated = Yes / Opposite sex voices acceptable = Yes / Accents = Good, especially since they were mostly aliens / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good / Emoting = Good / Speed = listened on 1.25, my usual



The Crucible of Empire (Jao #2) by Eric Flint & KD Wentworth, read by Chris Patton, published by Audible Studios (2012) / Length: 16 hrs Buy Now | +Goodreads

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