the Little Red Reviewer

Start with the Empress of Mars!

Posted on: April 23, 2020

Good news everybody!


Good news everybody!

If you’ve been seeing my posts and thinking to yourself “jeez, when is she gonna shut up about this Company series, I don’t even know where to freakin’ start with these damn books”,  you can start with The Empress of Mars!


ok, so I KNOW all the suggested reading orders put Empress of Mars near the end of the series, but you should read it near the beginning!!!

– It functions perfectly as a stand alone. Never read a Kage Baker before? start with Empress of Mars!

– omg it is HILARIOUS,  like Anvil of the World hilarious.  the bad translator scene? I was laughing so hard I drooled on myself.

– If you recognize some characters from elsewhere in the series, that’s ok, and if you don’t, that’s ok too.  the book isn’t about those people anyway.

Also? It’s kinda better if you read The Empress of Mars before you know about some end of series stuff that happens.  I wish I’d read it before I knew all that other stuff.

The Empress of Mars is a gift that gives twice – it was originally a novella, AND then it got expanded  into a novel!  I’ve not read the novella, so I don’t know what parts of the book it was.

What the heck is this book about?

Mary Griffith went to Mars for adventure!  She went For Science!

And when the British Arean Company decided they didn’t her discoveries anymore, they fired her. With no income, she had no way to purchase tickets home for her family.  So Mary opened  a bar.  The very first bar on Mars, as a matter of fact.  A friendly stop for ice haulers,  a save haven for a Heretic,  a place where everyone ends up.  Mary’s bar,  The Empress of Mars, is where you go for news and gossip, local brew and decent food.  And when it’s literally the only bar in town . . .

(I really did want Brick and the Heretic to have a happy ever after, didn’t you?)

The Empress of Mars has electronic bees,  crazy truckers,  idiot bureaucrats, kind fiancees, gamblers and con-artists,  two gentlemen who you just might recognize,  tips for starting a business on Mars, and one very large, very perfect diamond.  It’s and old fashioned western frontier town adventure story, on Mars.

It’s a fun feel good book and a fast read.

I wish I’d read it earlier in the series.

The only crime the Empress of Mars ever committed was being read immediately after I read The Sons of Heaven,  and really any book would have been a let down after reading that.

Also? now I’m reading the next book (the last novel? I think?) in the series, Not Less Than Gods.  It’s all about Edward, who I still think is a total asshole for all the shit he pulled in the Sons of Heaven. I am not excited about reading a book that is entirely about him.

What can I say about Not Less than Gods, since I’m about 100 pages in?  The writing is glorious, the side-characters are a hoot, I love the cover art.  Edward is an asshole.

9 Responses to "Start with the Empress of Mars!"

I read this with no prior knowledge of the series and really enjoyed it. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything at the time but now I’m really curious.

Liked by 1 person

Happy to hear your enjoyed it! Did it make you want to read more Kage Baker books, or more books in this series?

I love it when authors write stand alone spin-offs, it’s like a secret entrance into a series.

Liked by 1 person

It did! Now I just have to actually get to it. Just eed to finish at least one of the other series I have going.

Liked by 1 person

finish one series before you start another?? what is this madness?

Liked by 1 person

Is this book about a grownup Dejah Thoris?


lol, not even close.


[…] RADICAL READING ORDER. In the midst of her series of reviews about Kage Baker’s Company series, “Start with the Empress of Mars!” advises the Little Red Reviewer’s Andrea […]


Personally idiosyncratic recommendation: “The Graveyard Game”. There is nothing like coming into a story, even a series level story, ‘in media res’.

I had never read any Kage Baker until I borrowed The Graveyard Game from my local library. Once I finished it I was so hungry for more I read backwards & forwards from there. It was like falling down a rabbit hole into an already unfolding Great Story and needing to know how we got there & what happens next.

(Here via File770)


I agree 100% that you can start with Graveyard Game! Sky Coyote is a great place to start too. All the Company novels I have (a mish-mash of paperbacks and hardbacks), they all say “a novel of the Company” or some such, there is no “book 3” or “book 5” on the books, implying that these can be read in any order.

this series is the best rabbit hole to fall into! I’m pretty sure I got started on it from the library too. Something about that cover art of Garden of Iden caught my eye – someone in old fashioned dress, but a computer-y font. And then wait, science fiction, cyborgs, time travel, and relationships and great characters? give me more of this!


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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