The Shadow of Cincinnatus - saved by the ending
Marius Drake has always believed in the ideals of the Federation and has done everything within his power to ensure that the human planets stay unified. Marius knows that a strong Federation is required for humans to remain the dominant race in the known universe, so he must make sweeping changes now that the corrupt Grand Senate is a thing of the past. He also can't ignore the threat of the Outsiders out on the Rim. Lucky for him that he has his protege, Roman Garibaldi, who he can send out to the Rim with the main fleet while he takes care of things on Earth. Of course no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy and the Rim is a very long way from Earth.
Book two of The Decline and Fall of the Galactic Empire series builds upon the events of the first book as reluctant Emperor Marius Drake tries to do the the right thing, only to find out that it is far more difficult than he ever would have imagined. As a career military man he is used to having people follow his orders and when he tries to deal with the many factions on Earth he quickly finds that he is out of his element. The story follows the many challenges faced by Marius on Earth, and the unexpected events faced by Garibaldi out on the Rim, until the story lines eventually merge into quite a dramatic conclusion that sets up book three to be a doozy.
I must admit that this story was really dragging on for me until the dramatic turn of events near the end that re-ignited my interest in the series. As is common for the middle book of a trilogy, this one is a transitional work that bridges the events of the first and third books, and it is ultimately less interesting as a result. This means that book three is the real payoff, so if you are on the fence after the first book then think twice before continuing. There is still plenty of solid military sci-fi here but there is also a lot of focus on the challenges faced by Marius back on Earth, which isn't nearly as entertaining.
For audiobook fans Tim Gerard Reynolds does his usual excellent job on the narration and I certainly think listening to his performance helped me get through the slow parts.