Empire of Man
The Empire of Man (also called the Prince Roger series and the March Upcountry series) is a series of science fiction books by David Weber and John Ringo published by Baen Books. It combines elements of space opera and military science fiction.
The series tells the story of Prince Roger and his personal guard, the Bronze Battalion of the Empress's Own, as they cross the hostile and alien world of Marduk where they have been marooned. Roger is the spoiled younger son of the Empress of the largest polity in the galaxy, the Earth-based "Empire of Man". Roger, third in line to his mother's throne, is described at the start of the series as an over-handsome, but essentially useless fop. Part of this description comes from a reputation he owes to the acts and status of his father, the Duke of New Madrid, who is estranged from the empress.
Roger is reluctantly persuaded by his mother to travel to Leviathan, a focal planet producing "grumbly oil" (used in commercial products such as colognes), to represent the royal family at a local celebration. Due to sabotage during the voyage, Roger, his battalion of bodyguards, his valet, his one time tutor and now chief of staff, and a small number of small craft pilots are forced to land on Marduk, a largely unknown planet that is only loosely a member of the Empire of Man. Marduk, an extremely humid and rainy planet, is home to a race of four-armed sentient amphibians referred to as Mardukans or Scummies, as well as a large number of hostile and deadly lifeforms.
Roger and the Bronze Barbarians (his marine bodyguards) travel across Marduk in order to find their way to an enemy controlled spaceport where they plan to steal a ship and return to civilization. Along the way Roger and his group are forced to make alliances with a succession of local polities of various societal archetypes ranging from hunter-gatherers to early gunpowder civilizations. The journey also allows the marines to see their prince in a new light, many startled to discover that their "foppish" charge is in fact a competent warrior, if severely lacking in real-world experience. Bodyguard Nimashet Despereaux is particularly taken with Roger after his more noble side is revealed, and Roger in turn with her, leading to a romantic relationship between the two.
Roger and a slowly dwindling number of bodyguards, supported by a growing group of Mardukan allies, eventually find their way to the spaceport and off the planet, but not before Roger learns that his siblings (and their families) have been killed and the galaxy at large believes that Roger himself was responsible. In fact Roger's biological father, the Duke of New Madrid, and his ally, Prince Jackson Adoula, have framed Roger for the crime, believing him dead. They have also taken the Empress captive, using a combination of cybernetic tampering, sexual slavery, and drugs to control the normally ironwilled Empress. The conspirators plan to put a son of New Madrid and the Empress, grown in an incubator, on the throne.
Roger and company return to Earth, set themselves up as restaurateurs, make contact with former members of the Empress's Own, and in the end successfully launch a counter-coup. With the Empress rescued, the fetus destroyed, and New Madrid in custody, Roger must cope with his mother's steadily disintegrating condition, a half-destroyed navy, rebuilding the palace, the line of succession, and the very real threat of civil war thanks to the escape of Jackson Adula. The fourth novel ends with the Empress abdicating the throne due to her condition, leaving Roger to reign as Emperor of the Throne of Man over an uncertain future.
Books in the series
- March Upcountry (2001) (read online, read online)
- March to the Sea (2001) (read excerpt, read online)
- March to the Stars (2003) (read excerpt, read online)
- We Few (2005) (read excerpt, read online)
- Omnibus collections
Both John Ringo and David Weber have said that they plan on writing more Empire of Man novels, Ringo going so far as to reveal that, after We Few, three more books have been contracted for the series. Weber has yet to produce a formal outline for the subsequent novels, but has stated that he will not be continuing the Prince Roger storyline. Instead the novels will be prequels, focusing on Roger's ancestor, Miranda McClintock.
Despite Weber's earlier statements, several months later John Ringo spoke out about a possible new plan for continuing the series. If David Weber agreed, the next book to be published would take up right where the last book "We Few" left off. Since then three "snippet" chapters of an untitled "Empire of Man 5" novel have been posted, continuing the Prince Roger storyline. 
- Guran, Paula (2004-04-05). "Baen Books mining military might". Publishers Weekly. "Ringo was introduced to the public through his collaboration with Weber on the Prince Roger series--launched in 2001 with March Upcountry[...]"
- Dillon, Jeff (2004-01-30). "Camouflaged book series". San Diego Union-Tribune. "Drake cohort David Weber's March series, in which a spoiled prince (with mad combat skills) crash-lands on the back end of a savage planet with a contingent of Marines and has to fight his way half-way around the world to a spaceport."[dead link]
- "March to the Sea (Review)". Booklist. 2001-07-01.
- John Ringo. "John Ringo > FAQ > Empire of Man FAQ". Retrieved 2011-12-07.
- David Weber. "David Weber - Frequently Asked Questions - Empire of Man". Retrieved 2011-12-07.
- John Ringo. "Baen's Bar". Retrieved 2012-06-17.
- John Ringo. "Collected Driblets of Baen". Retrieved 2014-01-01.