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Foundation and Empire is a science-fiction novel written by Isaac Asimov. It is the second volume in the classic Foundation Trilogy in the Foundation series. The book was originally published as two stories in Astounding Science Fiction magazine. Part 1 appeared in the April 1945 issue of Astounding as "Dead Hand", while Part 2 appeared in the November 1945 and December 1945 issues as "The Mule".

This article, Foundation and Empire, contains spoilers. Be forewarned, plot and/or ending details follow.
Asimov says you decide.


Bel Riose

(published April 1945 as Dead Hand)

A general of the Galactic Empire (which is now well into its collapse) by the name of Bel Riose launches an attack against the First Foundation, recruiting the Siwennan noble Ducem Barr (the son of Onum Barr, who had been visited by Hober Mallow, decades ago), the only citizen of the Empire who is knowledgeable about the First Foundation and the Periphery. In return for his services, he promises to absolve Barr's murder of the late Viceroy of the Normannic Sector.

The Empire, despite its decay, far outclasses the Foundation. While the Foundation's merchants try to bribe Riose, Lathan Devers, a Foundation agent, allows himself to be captured by Riose to learn more about the General's plans. Riose, after raising suspicion from Galactic Emperor Cleon II by requesting his already impressive fleet receive reinforcements, is aided by the power-hungry aide to the Emperor, Ammel Brodrig.

Having escape from the General's captivity, Devers and Barr go on a mission to Trantor to attempt to see the Emperor and fabricate evidence of Riose's and Brodrig's supposed treason to end the siege on the Foundation. They fail, and are nearly killed. Nevertheless, Cleon II does recall and execute Riose and Brodrig, putting an end to the war. Ducem Barr later concludes that given the Empire's state of decay, any combination of General and Emperor was bound to fail, as no Emperor could afford being dethroned by a General too successful and popular, nor risk leading a campaign himself and leave Trantor while his rivals plotted his demise.

The Mule

(published November and December 1945 as The Mule)

About a hundred years later, the Empire has ceased to exist in name as well as in fact, Trantor having been sacked by a "barbarian fleet". The Foundation has become the dominant power in the galaxy, controlling its region through its trading network. Unfortunately, the leadership of the Foundation has become degenerate: the Mayor of Terminus is Indbur III, the ineffectual grandson of a strongman who seized power and instituted hereditary rule.

In addition to this internal corruption, an external threat arises in the form of a mysterious man who is known only as the Mule. The Mule (whose real name is never revealed) is a mental freak and possesses the ability to sense and manipulate the emotions of others. He uses this ability to take over the independent systems bordering the Foundation, and has them wage a war against the Foundation.

While his vassals prosecute the war, the Mule travels under the guise of a refugee clown named Magnifico Giganticus with Foundation citizens Toran Darell and Bayta Darell to different worlds of the Foundation. He uses his abilities to undermine the Foundation's war effort by spreading despair and destroying morale. In the end, the Foundation falls without much of a fight.

Still under the guise of a refugee clown, he travels with the Darells, along with psychologist Ebling Mis, to the Imperial Library of Trantor. The Darells and Mis seek to contact the Second Foundation, which they believe will be able to defeat the Mule. The Mule, on the other hand, wishes to learn the location of the Second Foundation so that he can use the First Foundation's technology to destroy it.

While at the Great Library, the Mule surreptitiously stimulates Ebling Mis's mind, allowing him to make powerful insights. Unfortunately for Mis, the Mule's actions cause his health to deteriorate very quickly. As Mis lies dying, he tells Toran, Bayta, and the Mule that he knows where the Second Foundation is. Just before he reveals the Second Foundation's location, however, Bayta kills him, having realized shortly before that the renegade clown was actually the Mule, killing Mis to prevent him from revealing the Second Foundation's whereabouts to the Mule. Defeated, the Mule leaves the Darells on Trantor to go and reign over the Foundation and the rest of his new empire.

Isaac Asimov Novels
Robot Series: The Caves of Steel | The Naked Sun | The Robots of Dawn | Robots and Empire
Empire Series: The Stars Like Dust | The Currents of Space | Pebble in the Sky
Foundation Series: Prelude to Foundation | Forward the Foundation | Foundation | Foundation and Empire | Second Foundation | Foundation's Edge | Foundation and Earth

See Also

List of Books by Isaac Asimov