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Foundation and Empire Book Review Summary

The first half of this book details the story of Bel Riose, a general in the decaying empire who decides to conquor the Foundation. A Foundation trader, Latham Devers, arranges to get captured so he can spy on Riose and find some way to through a monkey wrench into his plans, but he really is more of an observer to events. Eventually, Bel Riose is recalled and executed by the Emperor, who fears this powerful general is a threat.

We're told that the Foundation can never lose, because if an attacking general is strong, and the emperor is weak, the general will simply go home and overthrow the emperor; if the attacking general is weak, he'll never conquer the Foundation; and if the attacking general is strong, and the emperor is strong, the emperor will see the general is a threat and recall him. I found this explanation to be a little too pat; in that case, how could the empire every conquer anything? Despite this pat ending, it's interesting to follow Riose's career as he attempts to take on the Foundation.

The second half of the book details the rise of the Mule, a mutant who can control people's minds (or, more specifically, their emotions); thus he can instantly make friends by making important people like him, and put despair in the minds of his enemies. The story follows the lives of two people who are trying to escape the Mule's forces as, one by one, he conquers the planets they visit. The couple, Toran and Bayta, remember that there is supposed to be a second foundation, and along with a psychologist named Ebling Mis try to locate this foundation so they can be warned about the Mule. Along the way they pick up the Mule's clown, "Magnifico" who accompanies them as they flee the Mule, usually just one step ahead of their forces. Finally, just as Mis is about to reveal the location of the second foundation, Bayta kills him, for she realizes that Magnifico is in fact the Mule, and she doesn't want him to learn the location of the second foundation.

This part of the book had a lot of great dramatic tension, especially at the end when Magnifico turns out to be the Mule (the beginning and the middle, however, are a bit slow). It's also creepy to meet enemies of the Mule after they've been "converted"; you kind of wonder when that will happen to the main characters. However, there are some less believable parts: presumably, the second foundation knew about the Mule; why did they have to be warned? Also, it was revealed later that the second foundation was on Trantor, where this book ended; couldn't the Mule sense the second foundationers there? Why didn't the second foundation try to kill him when he was on Trantor? Those parts needed a bit more explanation.

Detailed Plot Synopsis of Foundation and Empire

This is actually two stories in one: the first details the last attempt of the dying Empire to reassert control over the Foundation. But the Empire is so corrupt that when one of its generals starts to succeed, he gets recalled. The second part details the rise of the Mule, a being who can control the minds of others and who quickly conquers the Foundation. A few escapees try to locate the Second Foundation to warn them, but the Mule isn't far behind.
This report prepared by Steve








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Chapter Analysis of Foundation and Empire

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book    -   very upbeat FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story Spying & Investigations    -   Yes What is main char. doing?    -   spying/espionage in enemy territorry Political power play    -   Yes Political plotlets    -   saving govt/kingdom from external overthrow    -   factions fight within govt for control    -   preventing/managing clash/war between govts/kingdoms Tech./$$$/Info hunt    -   Yes Stealing/recovering/destroying    -   info about lifeform(s)/society/phenomena Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Female Age:    -   20's-30's

Setting

Spaceship setting:    -   futuristic human freighter/transport A substantial portion of this book takes place on a non-Earth planetary body:    -   humans in a futuristic society Planet outside solar system?    -   Yes Takes place in spaceship?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   none/very little science jargon needed How much dialogue?    -   mostly dialog

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Isaac Asimov Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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