- Acceptable Religious Targets: Islam in the second book.
- Anvilicious: Let's just say this book is not subtle in its execution and leave it at that.
- Broken Base: Fans of Shadow Complex tend to be liberals who resent the political elements while fans of Orson Scott Card resent the video game elements.
- Don't Shoot the Message: Although the book suffers from a Broken Aesop by only portraying the liberals as extremists, it doesn't negate how dogmatic both sides of the US political system have become in real life. As he states in the afterword, people in the middle who are reasonable and sane get lumped together with the extremists of whichever side they support, and that modern politicians focus too much on calling out and demonizing the opposing side instead of acknowledging when their side messes up.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop: A benevolent dictator who started a civil war to put himself into power can sometimes be the best man for the job. Card's The Worthing Saga and Songmaster also share this aesop, an apparent author favorite.
- Ho Yay: A massive amount with its two protagonists. Ironic, given the author.
- Magnificent Bastard: Averell Torrent.
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The book's main theme is more and more relevant each year since it was written (2006), if the major political blogs and TV news shows are any indication.
- Strawman Has a Point: The Ax-Crazy Progressive Restoration never actually says anything WRONG really, even if they are all sort of nuts.
- Values Resonance: Even after its release in 2006, its message about the polarization between Democrats, Republicans, and moderates remains a huge issue in American politics.
- The Woobie: Cecily, poor Cecily.
- Word of God: The afterword where Scott Card speaks about the problems of extremism in the American political system. It's very apt, but is hamstrung by virtue of it following a book that only had one side be at all extreme. And by Card's nonfiction writing where he holds some very right-wing views, contrasting to his call for moderation.
YMMV / Orson Scott Card's Empire