In The Consuming Fire, Scalzi builds on a fun, fast, political story of an empire nearing ruin.
If you haven’t, I recommend reading The Collapsing Empire first. Not only does this story pick up just moments after the first book but I feel that neither of these work well as stand-alone novels. These are stories that are working towards something much bigger, which is how I feel more series should be written. I’m seeing a number of novels these days that appear to be written specifically to get a movie or show made and it’s a bit disheartening.
I enjoy that the vast majority of main characters is female, and that each one can wield power and authority when necessary. If something like that upsets you, I’d suggest turning away now and looking inward (this really shouldn’t be upsetting you). The characters are nuanced. Nobody knows all the facts and alliances are made to be broken. You’ll mostly follow a few people around and each person seems to have strengths but also flaws that can and will be exploited - no super heroes or alien fix-all here.
These books have an interesting technological detail in that once a ship jumps into the Flow, they lose all ability to communicate and essentially revert back to pre-cellular days for communication - you won’t know the news until you’ve arrived. Speculation plays a big role in this tale and I enjoyed the twists and turns along the way.
I’m really enjoying this Interdependency series so far. It’s not the typical sci-fi that I read - I’ve never really given space operas a fair chance so if you have recommendations I’d love to hear them - but I am finding these to be very fun and quick reads.