Foundation and Empire cover

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.


The General[]

(published April 1945 as Dead Hand)

It is 200 F.E. A young general of the Galactic Empire (which is now well into its collapse) by the name of Bel Riose visits Siwennian 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, to discuss "magicians at the edge of the Galaxy", the First Foundation. Barr shows him the personal shield given to him by Hober Mallow forty years earlier, and tells him about the old Viceroy of the Normannic Sector. Bel Riose reveals to him that he has found out that it is Barr who murdered him. He doesn't believe the legends about the Foundation at first, but eventually decides to visit them himself.

About half a year later, the government of the First Foundation (which includes Sennet Forell, Hober Mallow's illegitimate son) discusses what has happened. Riose has visited them and departed, but they have stolen one of his ships and interrogated the crew. The Mayor, who is described as a fool, is not present. Meanwhile, Riose has Barr brought to him to talk with him once again. He tells him what has happened and makes an arrangement with him. He needs Barr for assistance in an attack on the Foundation. In return for his services, he promises to absolve Barr's murder of the late viceroy of the Normannic Sector.

On Trantor, the current Emperor, Cleon II, who suffers from a curious undiagnosed ailment, is informed by his power-hungry aide Lord Ammuel Brodig that Riose has sent a request for more ships, and told that he is one of the popular generals. He is unconvinced, regarding the ten ships of the line already at Riose' command to be sufficient for any conceivable campaign against barbarian hinterlands, and rejects the request pending better justification. Riose then begins his offensive against the Foundation from the planet Wanda. Trader Lathan Devers allows himself to be captured to learn more about the plans of Riose, who interrogates him, although he reveals little in the interrogation - even a psychic probe makes no impression. He is then kept imprisoned along with Barr. Devers asks for proof that he is truly the sixth son of Onum Barr, who escaped the massacre of Brodig, who ordered half the male population of Siwenna slaughtered. Barr shows him the personal shield and Devers accepts this as proof enough for him, and befriends him.

Lord Brodig is appointed as the Emperor's representative and meets with Riose on Wanda. They agree for Brodig to interrogate Devers further. Sergeant Mori Luk warns Devers and Barr about the interrogation of Brodig, and about how ruthless he is and all the horrible things he has done. Brodig bribes with Devers for information and Devers reveals to him that the Foundation has the secrets of the transmutation of elements, in return for large amounts of money (as Brodig is richer than the Emperor himself). Brodig says that they have tried to bribe the general with Iridium, and that now his refusal makes more sense.

Devers hopes that this revelation will turn Brodig against Riose. Instead, it when Riose next comes to Barr and Devers, he reveals that five more ships of the line have arrived along with a personal message of congratulations from Cleon, meaning Brodig has sided with Riose and added his endorsement to the previously denied request. Riose has also become more aware of the potential of Foundation technology and demands that Barr and Devers remove their jewelry before submitting to another psychic probe -- an act that they know will reveal their conspiracy. When a message capsule arrives from Brodig, Barr knocks out the briefly distracted general and they take his blaster and the message. They kill Mori Luk, who sees the blaster and is enraged by the belief that they have killed Riose. They then escape in Devers' ship. On board, they argue a little. Devers thinks they can use Brodig's wording in the message about "ultimate ends" to trick the Emperor, fabricating evidence of Riose's and Brodrig's supposed treason to end the war with their execution. Barr disagrees. In the end, they agree to go to Trantor to confront him.

On Trantor, they begin their attempt to get a hearing with the Emperor. Devers bribes an official with the money he received from Brodig to let him in without ID. They eventually reach a commissioner and demand audience with the Emperor. They attempt to trade with him to get it but he reveals he is a Police Lieutenant in disguise. He shoots Devers, but the Foundationer has a personal shield, and Devers kills the Lieutenant. They flee Trantor, and Devers graps a newspaper on the way out. In the depths of despair, Barr reads the paper and learns that Cleon has recalled Riose and Brodig, ending the war.

They return to the Foundation and Siwenna becomes the first planet to leave the jurisdiction of the Empire and become a Foundation-controlled planet. Barr talks with Sennet Forell on Terminus, explaining to him 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. He brings up the Second Foundation but Forell dismisses him. Forell appears content that there are no further barriers to expansion under the current model, but is debated by Devers, who unexpectedly brings up internal enemies who might not want so much wealth to leave the hands of those who work for it. The story ends with Forell realizing the meaning of Devers' words and the two staring at one another in simmering rage.

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.


Planets and locations[]




  • Fourth Seldon Crisis
  • Bel Riose’s War on the Foundation
  • Liberation of Siwenna
  • Great Sack of Trantor
  • Fifth Seldon Crisis
  • Fall of the Foundation
  • Wars of the Mule
  • First Search by the Mule for the Second Foundation
Isaac Asimov's Foundation Universe 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