The Praxis (#1)

Next: The Sundering

All will must bend to the perfect truth of The Praxis

For millennia, the Shaa have subjugated the universe, forcing the myriad sentient races to bow to their joyless tyranny. But the Shaa will soon be no more. The dread empire is in its rapidly fading twilight, and with its impending fall comes the promise of a new galactic order . . . and bloody chaos.

A young Terran naval officer marked by his lowly birth, Lt. Gareth Martinez is the first to recognize the insidious plot of the Naxid — the powerful, warlike insectoid society that was enslaved before all others — to replace the masters’ despotic rule with their own. Barely escaping a swarming surprise attack, Martinez and Caroline Sula, a pilot whose beautiful face conceals a deadly secret, are now the last hope for freedom for every being who ever languished in Shaa chains — as the interstellar battle begins against a merciless foe whose only perfect truth is annihilation.


“What sets THE PRAXIS apart from its more conventional kin in the New Space Opera or military SF clans, though, is the adroitness with which it integrates battles and disasters and species-wide politicking with the intimate, the personal, and the social. A writer who can make a formal reception, a dinner party, or a staff meeting as gripping as a fleet action is a rarity and a treasure, and that is what we have in Williams.”


“This is a blend of military SF and political thriller and it harkens back to the old days of grand space opera, delivering the best of both worlds–an old fashioned story with strong literary qualities.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“This is a very good space opera, with an intelligently complex multi-species empire, and an interestingly diverse set of characters trying to preserve that empire from destruction […] There’s both great action and good character development here […] Highly recommended.”

The New England Science Fiction Association

“This book is unabashed Space Opera, and I found it extremely fun reading.”


“Williams focuses on the basics of all good fiction; the characters and the story arc. He absolutely excels at delivering both, and the result is a rip-roaring good-time reading experience.”

Agony Column

“Williams builds believable, sympathetic characters and action and danger is interspersed with soap opera while he makes his preparations for the full-on space opera that is to come. When it does, it is excellent […] The writing is excellent throughout, the build up is interesting and the characters are well rounded […] THE PRAXIS is an entertaining read and a promising beginning.”

The Zone

“This a hugely fun ride. It has empires crashing, cival wars aliens, humans, scheming plans, plucky young heroes and villains fighting space battles in huge starships–what more can you ask for? Similarities to historical empires–notably the Roman and the British–enhance the pleasure of this enjoyable space romp. Anyone who enjoys space opera will find this an enjoyable read and fans of Feintuch’s Hope series, Hornblower or Patrick O’Brien will love the Fleet aspects and starship battles.”

The Alien Online

“THE PRAXIS is a promising start to the Dread Empire’s Fall trilogy. The characters, political situations and society were all fascinating.”

Fantasy Book Cafe

“Walter Jon Williams is one of the best modern science fiction writers […] [THE PRAXIS] is arguably his best novel in quite some time…So far as galactic empire, space operas go THE PRAXIS delivers something very solid and very different and is a novel I could only put down upon the direst of needs.”


“Walter Jon Williams creates an exciting SF adventure that will remind readers of classic space opera. Williams balances political maneuvers with military maneuvers, develops the beginnings of a romance between the two lead characters, and provides enough science to satisfy hard-core SF readers.”

Books for a Buck

“Absorbing and entertaining, with some effective hard science and an edge of relationship-based humour that Jane Austen would have appreciated, it's a careful opening but one that gives little sign of any promised intergalactic conflict […] It’s to Williams’ credit that this strategy pays off magnificently, the plot accelerates into a breathless, unpredictable, effortlessly charming adventure that grips like a vice and isn’t afraid to throw some surprising comedy into the mix. One of the most shamelessly entertaining SF epics in recent memory, this is an impressive start to what promises to be a fearsomely inventive space opera.”


Awards & Accolades