Dawn of Empire

Dawn of Empire

4.4 16
by Sam Barone

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Five millennia ago, on the eastern bank of the river Tigris, the course of human history changed forever . . .

The people of Orak cherish their peaceful village and the life they have made. Though not proficient with the bow or sword, they possess a weapon far stronger: the ability to coax food from the ground. This is why the barbarian leader Thutmose-sin


Five millennia ago, on the eastern bank of the river Tigris, the course of human history changed forever . . .

The people of Orak cherish their peaceful village and the life they have made. Though not proficient with the bow or sword, they possess a weapon far stronger: the ability to coax food from the ground. This is why the barbarian leader Thutmose-sin hates and fears them. As his marauding clan of bloodthirsty warriors readies itself for the plunder and the kill, the fate of the village rests with the outcast barbarian Eskkar and the woman he loves, the wise and beautiful slave girl Trella—and on a bold, remarkable, never-before-tested plan of defense. For those who have known peace must turn their hands to war, to save from the savage invaders not only their families but their way of life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Former software designer Barone sets his entertaining debut novel in Mesopotamia at the dawn of civilization. The nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes, who in 2500 B.C.E. still dominate the fertile valley between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, are agitated at encroaching gentrification. Barbarian chieftain Thutmose-sin announces that Orak, the agricultural "great village" of 2,000 people nestled along the banks of the Tigris, "defies our way of life" and must be destroyed. Instead of fleeing the fearsome barbarian warriors who have never been defeated by "dirt eaters," the citizens of Orak stay and fight. They're led by a former barbarian, Eskkar, and his young slave mistress, Trella, who is wise beyond her years and station. The apocalyptic battle that ensues will determine which culture that of the nomad or the villager will prevail. Barone's characters are engaging enough, if not fully realized, and the action is fast-paced, if sometimes predictable. The combat scenes, gritty and bloody, are especially vivid. Equal parts history lesson, love story and war saga, Barone's first historical will have readers turning pages. (On sale Aug. 29) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In the fertile land of Mesopotamia circa 3000 B.C.E., the first cities arose, threatening the existence of nomads who depended on raiding small, defenseless farmsteads and villages for food and slaves. When news reaches the people of one of these cities that the barbaric Alur Meriki have targeted them for their next raid, Eskkar, a nomadic warrior exiled from his clan, assumes the role of war leader and devises a plan to save Orak and its people. With the assistance of his wife, who was a former slave and daughter of a noble, Eskkar unites the people of Orak, builds an enormous wall around the city, and, with a few hundred archers and warriors, defeats a horde of thousands. Barone has written a compelling first novel of the dawning of an age that saw the rise of the great walled cities of Akkad and Sumaria. Readers will find it hard to put down this dramatic tale of conflict between cultures, bloody warfare, and early diplomacy and statehood as seen through the eyes of a man born to conquer and rule. Recommended for public and university libraries where there is an interest in ancient civilizations.-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Barone's lusty debut recreates the valiant defense of a proto-Mesopotamian city against barbarian invaders. By the fourth century b.c., the marauding northern-steppes clan of Alur Meriki periodically raids the cities of so-called dirt-eaters along the Tigris to obtain slaves and supplies for its warriors. One such city, Orak, grown prosperous on the eastern bank of the Tigris and alarmed by reports that the Alur Meriki are preparing to return, decides to take its defense into its own hands. Village leader Nicar appoints Eskkar, a capable though unproven emigre warrior, to condition the men for war and come up with a defense plan. He concocts the brilliant idea of constructing a wall around the village made of fireproof mud and bricks, as well as enlisting all men and women into training and preparation. In his new role as captain of the guard, Eskkar is given a teenaged slave girl as companion. Trella proves canny, loyal and invaluable in strategic planning and diplomacy. Her master grows to love her as an equal, and Trella's ambition of raising her stature in the village is fulfilled when Eskkar makes her his wife. In six months, the mighty wall is completed, the weapons hammered from bronze (a material more reliable than flint), the warriors trained to fight and an assassination attempt foiled. The townspeople have entrusted themselves entirely to Eskkar and Trella, who reign like king and queen and plan to form a new dynasty when-or rather if-the barbarians are driven away. For the duration of this well-crafted work, Barone contains the action within the preparations for battle and dwells on the bedroom diplomacy of the two protagonists. The imminent raid by the barbarianscreates an inherent, delicious sense of tension throughout, until the final unleashing of pure, bloody slaughter. A Bronze Age historical romance with brains as well as brawn, ripe for a sequel.
Arizona Republic
“If Bernard Cornwell and Diana Gabaldon decided to collaborate on a novel, the result would be something like this.”

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Eskkar Saga , #2
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Read an Excerpt

Dawn of Empire

A Novel
By Sam Barone

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Sam Barone
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060892447

Chapter One

The eastern bank of the river Tigris, two hundred miles north of the great sea . . .

Awake, Eskkar, awake now! Nicar sent for you. You must come at once!" Eskkar realized the words had been spoken several times, accompanied by vigorous shaking. Now they ceased being mere sounds and became instead a message, one that slowly found its way through the haze that still clutched at his mind and body from last night's drinking.

"Enough," Eskkar grunted, swinging an arm clumsily at the messenger. But the nimble youth dodged easily. Eskkar pushed himself up to a sitting position on his hard pallet, while the room revolved around him and the blood pounded in his head from the sudden motion. His throat felt dry, like the gritty dirt floor beneath his naked feet, and his skull seemed ready to split apart at any moment as he paid the price for last night's vinegary wine.

"Water," he growled. After a few moments, the messenger placed a wooden cup in Eskkar's shaking hands. He swallowed a few mouthfuls, though much of the liquid dribbled down his chin onto his bare chest. His eyes refused to focus, and the bright sunlight that streamed through the open doorway into the shadowy soldiers' quarters added to his misery.

Assoon as Eskkar lowered the cup, the boy started again. "Hurry, Esk-kar. Nicar awaits you now! You must come at once." What in the name of the gods could Nicar want from him? But Nicar's name and position as the ruler of the village of Orak started him moving, stumbling first to the rank chamber pot inside the soldiers' common room, then back to his pallet to don his tunic.

Leaving the barracks, his eyes half-shut against the sun, Esk-kar managed to find his way to the well. He leaned against the rough stones for a moment, then upended the bucket to splash water on his face before drinking.

Somewhat refreshed, Esk-kar looked up, surprised to see the sun so high. Demons below, he must have drunk a whole skinful of that bitter date wine. He cursed himself for being a fool.

When Esk-kar turned away he saw a handful of guards, men who should have been busy at their daily tasks, standing uneasily near him. "Where is Ariamus?" he asked no one in particular, his voice sounding hoarse in his ears. Ariamus, captain of the guard, maintained the few laws of Orak and defended the village from bandits and marauders.

"Ariamus is gone," a gray-bearded veteran answered, spitting in the dirt to show his disgust. "He's run off, taken a dozen men with him, as well as extra horses and arms. The talk in the market says that barbarians are heading south, coming toward Orak."

Esk-kar let the words penetrate as he studied their faces. He saw fear and uncertainty, mixed in with the shock of losing their master. No wonder they looked toward him. If Ariamus had run off, then Esk-kar would be in charge, at least until a new captain could be chosen. That would explain the summons from Nicar.

The grinning messenger plucked at Esk-kar's tunic. He refused to hurry, taking his time to draw another bucket from the well. He washed his hands and face before returning to the barracks to lace on his patched and worn sandals. Only then did he follow the boy through the winding streets to the imposing mud-brick and stone house of Nicar, Orak's leading merchant and foremost among the Five ruling Families that dictated the daily comings and goings of the village.

The youth pulled Esk-kar past the gatekeeper and into the house, then guided him up the narrow steps to the upper rooms. The house seemed quiet, with none of the usual visitors waiting their turn to see the busy merchant.

Nicar stood on the tiny balcony that looked out over the village. Quite a bit shorter than Esk-kar, the gray-haired merchant carried the extra weight around his middle that marked him as a man of wealth.

Esk-kar grunted something he hoped sounded like a greeting and stood still as the most important and richest man in the village looked him over. Esk-kar realized Nicar was studying him with the same care used when selecting the best slave from a bad lot.

Nearly three years ago, Esk-kar had limped into Orak, with nothing but a sword on his back and an infected leg wound. Since then he'd seen Nicar many times, but Orak's most important person had never paid any particular attention to the tall, dark-haired subcommander who rarely spoke and never smiled.

When Nicar finished his scrutiny, he turned away and looked out over the village. Suddenly Esk-kar felt uncomfortable in his shabby tunic and worn sandals.

"Well, Nicar, what do you want?" The words came out harsher than intended.

"I'm not sure what I want, Esk-kar," the merchant answered. "You know Ariamus is gone?"

Esk-kar nodded.

"You may not know that the barbarians have recently crossed the Tigris, far to the north. The killing and burning have already begun there."

It took a moment before Nicar's words struggled through the vapors clouding Esk-kar's mind. Finally he understood their meaning. So rumor spoke the truth for once. He leaned heavily against the balcony wall, aware of his aching head. His belly cramped painfully, and for a moment he thought he would vomit. Esk-kar struggled to keep control of his thoughts and his stomach.

Nicar continued. "From the far north, through the foothills, then down the plain toward the river." He hesitated, to give Esk-kar time to comprehend his words. "They're moving steadily south. It's likely they'll turn in this direction, though it will be months before they arrive."

Nicar spoke calmly, but Esk-kar heard a faint hint of fear and resignation in his voice.

Esk-kar ran his fingers through his unruly hair, then fingered the thin beard that outlined his chin. "Do you know which clan?" Even after all these years, the word barbarian grated on his ears.


Excerpted from Dawn of Empire by Sam Barone Copyright © 2006 by Sam Barone. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Sam Barone was born and raised in New York City. He spent thirty years designing and developing software, and began writing seriously after his retirement. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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Dawn of Empire 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An unexpected masterpiece! I couldn't put this book down - I read it in 24 hours. Mr. Barone takes his place among the best of storytellers. I'm eagerly looking forward to reading the sequel.
toofewbookcases2manybooks More than 1 year ago
I am half way through this book, in 2 days, and I have a life, a wife, a job and a parrot to care of, I cannot wait to get home tonight to continue. It is a novel, fiction, about the dawn of the Akkadian Empire that florished 4500 - 4000 years ago in Mesopatania, the land between the rivers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sam Barone is able to capture the fantasy of Conan with the realism of Alexander the Great. Dawn of Empire is a well written adventure tale set in the Bronze Age. The story captures the reader so quickly that the pages fly by and you are hoping that you do not reach the end to quickly. Our hero, Eskkar, achieves what most men today dream of and our heroin, Trella, proves that you must never underestimate a woman, regardless of her age or beauty. What a great read!!!! Buy this book, you will not be disappointed.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 2500 BC in Mesopotamia, a gigantic framing community Orak is formed two thousand people reside there staying in one place, which threatens the nomadic lifestyle of most of the tribes, who have forever hunted or gathered their sustenance by wandering the Fertile Crescent.------------- Alur Meriki warrior chieftain Thutmose-sin declares to his brutal pillaging followers that this village on the Tigris must be destroyed as it imposes on their lifestyle by defying the natural order. He expects these ¿dirt-eater¿ farmers to flee from his mighty tribe of warriors as they have always done when his raiders arrive. Instead village leader Nicar selects former barbaric warrior Eskkar to lead the defense. With the help of his enslaved mistress Trella, he starts with a wall as he rallies the citizens of Orak to band together to fight for their survival.------------- This terrific Early Bronze Age historical occurs at a pivotal moment in which lifestyles are at stake as a nomadic warrior tribe battles with the residents of the first established settlement for supremacy. A romantic subplot between Trella and Eskkar enhance the exciting plot, but it is the growing anticipation of the fight that grips the audience. Sam Barone provides a powerful insightful look at two cultures at war during the middle of the third millennium BC with the winner goes the future while the loser becomes a footnote.----------- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not a fan of historical fiction. Dawn of Empire has changed my mind. Set in the time of the emergence of cities and when huge nomadic tribes could effect them, it was a perfect blend for conflict. Sam Barone shows us the problems, political, social, and military, that both sides faced. He personalized it with interesting characters, who if somewhat one dimensional, still were compelling to follow as they worked through life or death struggles. I am following the series through the next books. Read Dawn of Empire and you will be hooked too.
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Maxlee More than 1 year ago
take a look at how cities were made and why
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I started to read Dawn of Empire and saw that it occurred in 3158 BC, and the print was tiny, and the pages were many, I immediately thought that this was another one of those period books that would be boring, too long to get anything from, and would throw it aside after a few pages. This is everything but the actual feeling I obtained when I started reading. WOW! It turns out that this story is very much a part of early history in our world with many names and places added to enrich the story. In reality nothing needed to be added to enrich this story. Sam Barone has a real winner here and I truthfully look forward to read his follow-up book. Dawn of Empire takes place in areas on and near the Tigress River. Thutmose-sin is a leader of barbarians that plunder the land near and far, attack villages and take all the goods, gold, and slaves they can and then kill the rest and burn those villages. The villages would eventually rebuild and the barbarians would appear again in several years and do the same thing over again to the same villages. They were just as the term describes them¿barbarians! The villages they raided were composed of farmers¿dirt eaters¿they were referred to by the barbarians. These farmers knew nothing of fighting. They only wanted to grow crops and animals for consumption, not be fighters. This made them vulnerable to the barbarian¿s brutal attacks. Eskkar was a barbarian himself, whose family had been in Thutmose-sin¿s clan, enters the village of Orak where farmers did their thing and knew not how to fight barbarians. The leader of Orak had taken off with a band of warriors to attack other villages and become their own barbarian group, abandoning Orak. Nicar has taken over the village and is thinking how he can save Orak in the future. Eskkar is still a barbarian at heart when he is asked by Nicar what could be done to save Orak. This started Eskkar¿s mind in a different direction from any he had ever taken. Eskkar become one to HELP villagers save their village from the onslaught of the barbarians, becomes Captain of the Guard, and slowly puts his mind to work saving Orak. In the process of trying to gain the villagers confidence, Eskkar does some things to make enemies among the tribe families that run the village. Nicar sees Eskkar¿s dilemma and gives him a recently acquired slave, Trella, who Nicar feels is very smart and much advanced in her thinking, especially for a fourteen-year old girl. Eskkar takes the girl, lives with her, and finds out the broad knowledge she has. Trella gives Eskkar many ideas as to how to proceed with building the defenses of Orak and gaining the trust of the villagers. They eventually fall in love even though Trella is only a slave. All know she is far too wise in her words and actions and many start listening and following her advice. Eskkar begins the long process of building a defense around the village and changing the surrounding areas into swamps that would make an attack almost impossible. Riders would come into the village and tell of the location of the band of barbarians and in what direction they were headed. Orak villagers were sure they would be attacked within months and worked extremely hard to build their defenses. Dawn of Empire builds suspense fast as it goes through time with the villagers and the barbarians. When the first attack comes, the village was as prepared as possible to defend itself but would it be enough? The reader will have a hard time stopping to turn off that light at night while reading, but there is always the next day! You will enjoy this adventure that combines history with Sam Barone's characters in a very moving tale of long ago.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent story about a clash of cultures set during the early Bronze Age. A growing town seeks to defend itself against the nomadic raiders who have long terrorized the land, and in the process, lays the foundation of dynasty and empire through the charismatic warrior and brilliant young woman who rise to lead them. Well written, fast paced historical adventure that I enjoyed reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A truly stunning novel, rich in setting and characters. Let it pull you in as it did me!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very simply, the more you read, the more you want to read. You can't put this book down. Sam Barone does a wonderful job pulling the reader into the story, as you read the book you find yourself caring for the characters and eager to find out more of the story. I can't wait for the sequel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dawn of Empire is a fast moving and exciting novel taking place in the Bronze Age.