Ashes of Empire is a Military Science Fiction series by Eric Thomson, set in the same universe as his Decker's War and Siobhan Dunmoore novels but far in their future.
Humanity's empire has lasted over a thousand years, but four generations ago Senator Stichus Ruggero bypassed the constitution to not only name himself Emperor Stichus, but make the throne hereditary in the Ruggero family. Now, under Empress Dendera, the empire is being torn apart by civil war.
Captain Jonas Morane, a naval officer and amateur historian, realizes the decay has gone too far for anyone to stop. When most of his task force (and all his commanding officers) are wiped out by a rebel ambush, he takes the opportunity to flee through the wormhole network. Morane hopes that if he can establish a "knowledge vault" and keep it secure, he can shorten the inevitable period of barbarism that comes whenever an empire falls.
Novels in the series are:
- Imperial Sunset
- Imperial Twilight
- Imperial Night
- Imperial Echoes (upcoming)
Tropes In The Knowledge Vault:
- The Alcoholic: Every time Governor-General Klim appears on the page, she is intoxicated.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Jonas Morane insists on showing proper respect to the civilian government of Lyonesse, and two poiticians decide that means they can steal the knowledge vault project from him for their personal benefit. They find themselves trapped inside the vault and given a choice: leave the project alone or be killed ... and Morane wasn't bluffing.
- Elective Monarchy: Apparently the original form of the empire. A major character in Imperial Twilight is a descendant of the last pre-Ruggero Dynasty emperor, it's specifically noted that this does not give her any claim to the throne when Devy Custis starts looking for a puppet empress. (But after four generations of Ruggero rule, most people have been taught throne = hereditary and would assume her bloodline was inherently royal.)
- The Empath: The Order of the Void was initially founded to provide training for empaths.
- Geas: Sisters of the Void who have the rare ability to project emotions as well as receive them undergo psychic conditioning to keep them from using their ability outside of medical/psychological treatment for a patient. Unfortunately, because this level of empathy is almost always a female ability, the conditioning is optimized for female brain patterns. In Imperial Night, a rare male with projective empathy is discovered and recruited by the Order ... not only does the psychic conditioning not affect him, but none of his instructors realize it failed.
- Great Big Library of Everything: The knowledge vault hasn't reached this level yet, but they're working on it.
- Guile Hero: Jonas Morane develops quite the reputation among his remaining ships for bluffing and/or fast-talking their way out of trouble.
- Orbital Bombardment:
- Dendera's "Retribution Fleet" uses this versus every planet that might be connected to the rebellion. Surrender fast enough, and they'll only bombard your planet to a pre-space travel level. The slightest hint of resistance, including simply not surrendering fast enough, and the planet is bombarded back to the Stone Age.
- During their flight, Morane's ships use this as Due to the Dead for two colonies wiped out by reivers, using nukes to cremate the entire colony rather than leave the corpses to rot.
- Portal Network: Interstellar travel is via a network of mapped wormholes. Theoretically ships could travel in ordinary hyperspace to get from one star to the next, but hyperspace is so much slower and uses so much fuel that no one bothers with it except within a solar system.
- Safely Secluded Science Center: During Imperial Night, we learn that the Empire deliberately placed their biowarfare labs on isolated bases on the fringes of Imperial space to keep them far away from Imperial citizens. Unfortunately, after the Empire's fall those labs were now in the perfect spot to be looted by reivers trying to scavenge enough high-tech to keep their spaceships running.
- Silent Running Mode: "Silent running" means activating a starship's stealth systems. A fully-silent ship may not be particularly quiet, but is undetectable by any Imperial sensors.
- Space Pirates: The reiver attacks we see are slave/loot raids on colonies, but there's references to reivers attacking spaceships as well.
- Spot of Tea: The vast majority of spacers drink tea. This may be for pragmatic reasons; tea plants can be grown on a wide range of planets, coffee is far pickier about growing conditions.
- Synthetic Plague: A good chunk of Imperial Night deals with Lyonesse's efforts to keep out the "Barbarian Plague" — an Imperial bioweapon accidentally released when reivers raided biowarfare labs (placed on the Empire's borders to keep them well away from inhabited planets) looking for technology to scavenge.
- Teleportation Sickness: When a ship moves into or out of hyperspace, the crew experiences nausea. If the ship has poorly maintained hyperdrives (or, during Imperial Sunset, has thrown the safety regs out of the airlock in a desperate attempt to reach Lyonesse before the reivers attack), the nausea is much worse.
- The Man Behind the Man: Grand Duke Devy Custis spends most of his sections of Imperial Twilight looking for someone to use as a Puppet King while he runs things under the title of "Regent".
- Time Skip: Imperial Night starts roughly 25 years after the end of Imperial Twilight.