We hope you enjoy this book review by Douglas R. Cobb.

Life's not always easy, even if you're the barbarian warrior ruler over your own burgeoning empire. In Empire Rising, by Sam Barone, the sequel to his acclaimed and exciting novel of adventure, romance, and intrigue Dawn of Empire,that is the hard lesson that Esskar, ruler of Akkad, learns. As one might make the state with Iraq, taking control of a land is difficult; but, it is much harder to maintain control and rule over an empire than to take one over in the first place.

Besides the every-day battles one faces when dealing with administering justice, taxes, and trying to bring roving bands of barbarians to heel, there's the constant threat of people both externally and internally who would like nothing better than to see you be humbled and fail, or to usurp and kill you. Can even a great (though inexperienced) ruler like Esskar, with the help of his politically adroit pregnant young wife Trella, both spread their nascent empire and keep the power they already have, or are they doomed to failure?

Though Empire Rising is, I believe, meant to mainly appeal to people who like epic sweeping adventure novels with a well-researched historical foundation (and it should satisfy this portion of the reading public admirably) and be a sequel that lives up to the high quality of Dawn of Empire (which it does), I believe it should also be a book that fans of Robert Howard's Conan the Barbarian and King Kull books will look forward to reading. It is suspenseful, action-packed, and contains immensely appealing and convincingly rendered characters.

The story shifts perspectives, with portions of it told from the viewpoints of its major characters, like Esskar, Trella, some of Esskar's sub-commanders; and, even from the perspectives of the Egyptian Korthac and his sub-commanders like Hathor and Ariamus, who attack Akkad from within and attempt to usurp Esskar's power. This both introduces the readers of the novel to the mindsets and motivations of its various characters, and makes one want to read on, like with the Da Vinci Code and other books that utilize this technique, to find out the fates of the characters and catch up with the different story lines.

Korthac is an entertaining villain and is more than a match for Esskar. He chooses to set his plans for conquering Akkad into motion after Esskar and the majority of his soldiers have left the city to put down barbarians who have been terrorizing the small village of Dilgarth. Masquerading as a merchant dealing in gemstones, he slowly builds up influence in Akkad through giving people good bargains and by bribing the town's influential Nobles.

When Esskar then heads to the larger town of Bisitun to deal with the brother of the man who had taken over Dilgarth, Korthac decides to bring his plans to fruition, by ordering his forces he's smuggled into the city to take it over. He vows to rule Akkad very differently than Esskar, by the sword, and begins by killing anyone he perceives has slighted him in any way up to that time. He also intends to murder Trella and her baby, but only after humiliating her and using her as a pleasure slave. Will Esskar hear of Korthac's plans in time to make it back to Akkad before his beloved wife and newly-born heir are slaughtered by Korthac? If so, can he defeat numerically superior forces with the soldiers traveling with him, and rally the people of Akkad?

Get Empire Rising, and find out today! It's a book that stands on its own and be enjoyed, though if you haven't yet read Barone's first book in the series, Dawn of Empire, you owe it to yourselves to check that out, also. Though relatively long, clocking in at 562 pages, Empire Rising is such a good read it doesn't seem to be that long, and will keep your interest to the very end.



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