It has been over four years since I’ve read ‘Empire Rising, the second book in this series. The reason for the gulf is fairly simple. It wasn’t available here in the US. Of course, most people won’t care so why am I telling you? Man I don’t know. I was just happy to finally get a copy (e-book) and get back into the lives of Eskkar and Lady Trella. What caught me immediately was that nothing changed with the storytelling, and I LOVE that! You’ll want to read ‘Dawn of Empire’ and ‘Empire Rising’ first though. You won’t be completely lost but you will miss a TON of back story. One of the joys I’ve had in this series was hearing how the barbarian Eskkar and his female slave child came to rule Akkad.
In this book the city of Akkad is fully established and attracting attention. This is early civilization remember, and life is very rough and very raw. This was truly the time of “the strongest survive”. Akkad is a prosperous city, it’s a growing city, it’s a pretty safe city, and it’s a city not corrupt by its leaders (lucky them). In this brutal world you have kings of other cities that want to conquer and pillage. But not conquer to just conquer; oh no that would be to clean and easy. There is a blood feud that must be paid and the scars and hatred run DEEP. If you have issues with blood, fighting, graphic descriptions of torture, and rape then you will want to skip this series. As bad as those things are, I was happy that Sam didn’t shirk from them. It wasn’t sensationalized but when you’re telling a story about early civilization you need to hit it head on. Sam does… hard.
Anyway… the city of Sumer wants to wipe Akkad of the map (so to speak) and they have the man power and the leaders to do it. Sumer’s leaders… geez. I won’t say much about them save the fact that they have a relationship that would make King Tut jealous. (figure out that reference). When you have issues like that bouncing around in your head, attacking a city is just kindergarten play-play. So both cities prepare for war as do the surrounding smaller cities. Now, this is the only part(s) of this book that bugged me. Whenever Sam was telling us about the preparations and planning… it was dull. I totally got why he did that, but damn if the story didn’t drag along then. I kept reading because I knew he would get past it but it did put a damper on the flow.
I wanted to hear about the blood, the blood, THE BLOOD!! And I did. As will you. ‘Quest for Honour’ is a vast novel that takes place over a number of years and there is a lot that goes on within those years. All this chatter I’ve been doing and I have yet to mention Lady Trella. You know the saying “behind every good man is a good woman”? It had to have started with Lady Trella. Her mind is as cunning as a fox and as sharp as cheddar. But this is far from the weekday afterschool “poor slave girl helps dumb barbarian” special. If Eskkar is the blade then Trella is the pommel. But again, I suggest you read the first two books to really understand who Trella is. That woman will make your head spin. Both of them.
Sam is a hard working and very good author. I hope the US publishers wake up to that fact. Good job Sam and I eagerly await the next one, prequel or whatever!