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Empire Rising

Empire Rising

4.3 14
by Sam Barone

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Into this violent, unsettled land come the outcast Korthac and the remnants of his mighty desert fighters. Joining forces with Ariamus and his brutal band of thieves, the invaders set their sights on the biggest prize of all: the burgeoning city of Akkad—already renowned for its riches . . . and for the courage and wisdom of its two leaders.

The former


Into this violent, unsettled land come the outcast Korthac and the remnants of his mighty desert fighters. Joining forces with Ariamus and his brutal band of thieves, the invaders set their sights on the biggest prize of all: the burgeoning city of Akkad—already renowned for its riches . . . and for the courage and wisdom of its two leaders.

The former barbarian, Eskkar, and his beloved wife, Trella, face a challenge far more daunting than the savage horde that previously threatened the young city they built together and have sworn to protect. For, while Eskkar roams the land, hoping to bring other towns into his growing empire, an insidious menace is slipping unnoticed into Akkad, intending to wreak havoc from within—to loot and enslave . . . and bring death.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Barone returns to the cradle of civilization in his sanguinary sequel to Dawn of Empire. Lord Eskkar, a former barbarian who earlier saved the city of Akkad from almost-certain defeat, and Lady Trella, an erstwhile slave and his wife, now rule the "biggest city on the Tigris." Hoping to crush the bandits marauding in the countryside and extend Akkadian rule, Eskkar dispatches one band of soldiers south from Akkad and leads another north. In Eskkar's absence, Korthac, a newly arrived Egyptian warrior posing as a trader, schemes to infiltrate the city with his followers and seize power. Korthac sends assassins to track down Eskkar, and bandits south to ambush the returning Akkadian soldiers. Inside the city, his followers attack the soldiers left behind to keep order and take a pregnant Lady Trella prisoner. The ruthless Korthac plans to kill Trella once his rule is established, but, unknown to him, Eskkar survives and is preparing to retake the city. The frenetic action might be predictable, but it's never boring. The setting is convincingly rendered, and the characters-heroes and villains-are sharply drawn. Fans of ancient historical fiction will enjoy this instructive journey to the dawn of civilization. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Muscular, blood-and-guts sequel to Barone's first novel (Dawn of Empire, 2006) finds the fourth-century BCE Mesopotamian settlement of Akkad besieged by Egyptian marauders. Familiar from the first work, Akkad (formerly Orak), a newly rejuvenated city thanks to the impermeable wall built by the warrior Eskkar and his former slave, now-pregnant wife Lady Trella, is still perilously perched on the banks of the Tigris, and at the mercy of roving bandits envious of its prosperity. In this novel, brave, humane leader Eskkar sets out for a several months's mission to neighboring settlements of Dilgarth and Bisitun to clear the land of bandits and protect the farmers and herders who supply Akkad with its food and trade. However, Egyptian bandit leader Korthac has dragged what's left of his fighting force across the desert in search of this legendary city, and he plans to take it by force and instill himself as its leader. Eskkar rides off with his best fighting men for Dilgarth and discovers that the marauders have recently brutalized the village, killing the men and raping the women; he establishes himself there as the benevolent savior, regaining the trust of the people. He retakes Bisitun by force, routing its corrupt tyrant Ninazu in a bloody battle. Once Eskkar is absent from Akkad, however, Korthac moves in, presenting himself as a trader in gems to Lady Trella, who is suspicious and has him spied on. The action alternates between different camps: In Bisitun, Eskkar accepts the sensuous hospitality of the comely widow Lani, and he grows reluctant to return home. Meanwhile, Korthac and his minions seize their chance, taking the undefended Akkad by storm and Lady Trella as prisoner. After hisrather feminist first work, in which Lady Trella assumed a noble, fighting role, this book introduces the troublesome themes of Eskkar's adultery and abandonment of wife and home-correctible in the end, perhaps, but disappointing. Stuffed with slaughter, sweat and viscera.
Arizona Republic
“If Bernard Cornwell and Diana Gabaldon decided to collaborate on a novel, the result would be something like this.”
John Lescroart
“Barone knows his stuff and writes fluently of life, love, and war.”
Diana Gabaldon
“Beautifully imagined and researched adventure, with terrific action!”
—John Lescroart
“[A] wonderful book! Big, passionate, powerful, epic...sheer story-telling prowess. I couldn’t put it down!”
--John Lescroart
“[A] wonderful book! Big, passionate, powerful, epic...sheer story-telling prowess. I couldn’t put it down!”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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Eskkar Saga , #3
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Empire Rising

Chapter One

3157 B.C.E.—The City of Akkad (Orak), on the eastern bank of the Tigris River . . .

Lord Eskkar of Akkad pulled down hard on the restive horse, as impatient as its master to begin the long-awaited campaign. He had planned to be on his way soon after sunup. Instead a missing horse, then a broken pack strap, and finally two soldiers still befuddled from too much drinking the night before prevented the early departure. At last his embarrassed subcommanders signaled their readiness.

Eskkar gritted his teeth as he yanked on the halter, turned the horse around, and took the first steps to reclaim the countryside from roving bands of marauders. A few cheers came from the small crowd of Akkadians who bothered to watch his departure, but most just stared in silence. Less than two months ago every one of them had praised his name to the gods, acclaiming him ruler of Akkad for saving their lives and their homes. But already many chaffed at the very restrictions he established to protect them.

As he led his soldiers through the city's gates and out onto the plain, Eskkar knew that, at this moment, he cared more about getting out of Akkad than pacifying the surrounding farmlands. With each step away from the city he felt his responsibilities lessen and he longed to put his horse to the gallop. That would have been unfair to the seventy soldiers, only twenty of them mounted, who marched behind him. Eskkar restrained both himself and the eager horse until he reached the first of the low hills about a mile away from Akkad.

He turned his mount aside from the trail and urged the animal upthe steepest part of the slope. At the crest, the horse snorted from the climb, then restlessly pawed the earth, as if to say it wanted to race across the soft grassland, not scramble up rocky and slippery inclines. Eskkar first studied the ragged column of soldiers moving beneath him. A small force for what needed to be done, but all that could be spared to drive off the marauders and bandits who had plagued the land for almost a year, thriving in the chaos caused by the barbarian invasion. The dreaded Alur Meriki horsemen had passed on, but turmoil and anarchy marked their passage throughout the land.

Eskkar shifted his gaze to the river, only a few hundred paces away. The midmorning sun reflected off the slow-moving waters of the Tigris, giving the wide waterway a rare pale blue tint. He took a deep breath, filling his lungs with the clean air that blew across the water, glad to be rid of the city-smell of too many men and animals living too close together. Eskkar looked back toward Akkad nestling against the great curve of the river. The tall wooden gates remained open, and rising from one of the towers that guarded them, a large banner floated in the breeze. Eskkar could just make out the stalking lion embroidered on it. The lion spirit now protected the new city, the city that had changed him from a mere soldier to captain of the guard to a fighting leader, and nearly killed him in the process.

Another horse scampered up to the hilltop and his bodyguard halted beside him. "Do you miss it already, Captain?" Grond used the old title for his commander.

"Akkad? Do I miss the stink and the noise? Or the whining and scheming? No, the place can fall to the ground for all I care. But I haven't gone a mile yet and already I'm worrying about Trella."

"Lady Trella will be well protected by the soldiers," Grond said patiently.

"I suppose she'll be safe enough for a month or so." All this had been discussed many times in the last few days. Gatus, Eskkar's second in command and the oldest of the soldiers, doted on Trella as if she were his own daughter. Officially, Gatus would command during Eskkar's absence, but everyone knew the real ruler of Akkad would be Lady Trella. Gatus, busy as ever with the training of new recruits, would do nothing without her approval.

Nevertheless, Eskkar stared at the city, with its hastily built walls that had withstood brutal attacks and still showed scars from the recent conflict. This very hilltop had served as a watching post for the five thousand barbarians who laid siege to Akkad for almost two months. A few hundred paces behind him lay the remains of the besiegers' camp. He and his men would pass through it as they journeyed northward.

A tug on the halter, and Eskkar's horse shifted to face northward. He'd seen the remnants of the onslaught, still visible everywhere around him, often enough in the last few weeks. Blackened circles of fire-split stones still contained scattered ashes marking the residue of hundreds of campfires. Animal bones lay everywhere, moved and displaced by dogs, birds, and carrion eaters. The scavengers had gorged themselves for many weeks on the battle-dead.

By now the easy pickings had disappeared, the bones gnawed clean. Human and animal waste would provide less tasty tidbits for several more weeks or until the rains came. The city's inhabitants had gathered anything of value weeks ago. They'd searched through whatever the barbarians left behind, looking for whatever they could use or sell. More than a dozen large mounds marked the burial places of the enemy dead The common burial pits contained those who had survived the battles but died from their wounds, or the dead deemed important enough to be carried back to the barbarian camp and interred in a mass grave before being covered over.

Those barbarians who died assaulting the wall suffered the final indignity—abandoned by their clan and dumped in the river by their enemies, to be carried wherever by the whim of the gods, assigned a bitter fate in the afterlife. Everyone knew that without a proper burial, the spirits of the unburied dead would wander beneath the earth for eternity, prey for the shades and demons who would live off their tormented souls.

Empire Rising. Copyright © by Sam Barone. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Diana Gabaldon
“Beautifully imagined and researched adventure, with terrific action!”
John Lescroart
“[A] wonderful book! Big, passionate, powerful, epic...sheer story-telling prowess. I couldn’t put it down!”

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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4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
cdafft More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the surprising twist of aligning with the initial "bad" guy. The main character ends up being the heart and soul of the book and you root for him by the end although he has major flaws. This book made me want to go back and read the first book Dawn of the Empire to know more about the main characters. I look forward to more books in the future that will further develop these characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The second book by Mr. Barone is even more exciting and interesting than his first, Dawn of Empire. If you are a fancier of historical novels, you'll really enjoy reading this one set in the early Bronze Age. Barone creates a great atmosphere and makes the characters come alive. Strong women characters, very lifelike, are portrayed against exciting battle scenes. Highly recommended
jea2026 More than 1 year ago
Up to the high standard as the earlier books in this series.
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Celt059 More than 1 year ago
This was as much fun to read as Sam Barone's first book. If you like historical fiction with adventure and good eventually prevailing over evil you'll really enjoy this one. Fans of Bernard Cornwell will enjoy this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jiy More than 1 year ago
Overall an excellent read with believable characters set in a unique and fascinating period of human and societal evolution. The development of a new direction for civilization that encompasses the meaningful creation of the foundations of governance and human justice is strongly portrayed during one of the more brutal periods of human history. All of this couched in a fast moving historical adventure novel with interesting and, at times, provocative plot twists.
slatsdawson More than 1 year ago
As with his previous book, Dawn of an Empire, Barone tells a smooth flowing story. Sex, violence, and drama twist within the plot scheme as the story of an ancient civilization unfolds. Treachery abounds but the good people prevail. Buy it, you'll like it.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
In 2500 BC in Mesopotamia, the Alur Meriki warrior chieftain Thutmose-sin declares to his brutal pillaging followers that the farming village of 2000 residents on the Tigris Orak must be destroyed as it imposes on their lifestyle by defying the natural order. Instead these ¿dirt-eater¿ farmers led by former barbaric warrior Eskkar and his enslaved mistress Trella defeat the mighty army saving the city (see DAWN OF EMPIRE). The war hero and his now wife rule Orak still struggle with nomadic raiders who Eskkar and Trella believe must be defeated in order for the city to flourish and expand. He takes an expedition north while sending another troop to the south. The Egyptian trader Korthac has plans to take control of the city from within while the warrior ruler is out conquering. Korthac sends assassins to kill Eskkar and loyal warrior bandits to ambush the southern Akkadian force. He captures the pregnant Lady Trella while using stealth and more assassination to destroy the protectors of the city left behind. He almost has control of the city, which means it is time to kill Trella, who is of no value once the devious Korthac consolidates his rule. However, one failure unbeknownst to the scheming Egyptian is that Eskkar lives with plans to save his wife and his city. --- This terrific Early Bronze Age historical sequel continues the adventures of Trella and Eskkar at a point when civilization is taking its first steps from the cradle. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of third millennium BC action especially the battles. However, this fine ancient historical belongs to the sense of time and place as the reader will believe you are there. --- Harriet Klausner