Last year, we showed you the cover for New Pompeii, a science-gone-wrong thriller in the fast-moving Michael Crichton vein about a shady tech company transporting the doomed Ancient Roman city to the present seconds before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and keeping the freshly minted 21st century citizens in the dark about what had happened, with plans to profit from the elaborate scheme. The book certainly lived up to that incredibly fun premise, as it turned out the Pompeiians weren’t so easy to fool. In the sequel, Empire of Time, due this June, the plan begins to further unravel, and we can’t wait to see how it all goes wrong.
The first step: checking out the cover, which nicely mirrors book one. You can see it below the official summary, and then read on for a brief excerpt, courtesy of Titan Books.
New Rome has control of the time travel technology, which keeps western governments at bay. But the public call for the destruction of a place that allows slavery and gladiatorial combat. Meanwhile Calpurnia is fending off threats to her power, aided by Pullus, the man who was once Nick Houghton… Has Nick truly embraced the Roman way of life? Can the Romans harness the power of time travel, or will the new world destroy them?
And here’s an excerpt…
English. Pullus came to a halt, frozen by the sound. When was the last time someone had spoken to him in English in New Pompeii? One year ago? Two? Of course, those working the convoys used it. But that machine was now so well-oiled it no longer needed his direct involvement.
He kept a good distance between himself and Harris, thinking of their first meeting. The way he’d been pulled off the street and been told the truth about New Pompeii and NovusPart.
“Don’t worry,” continued Harris. “I haven’t broken your biological containment.”
Nick nodded, and edged closer. A strict quarantine was maintained around New Pompeii. One of the few features of NovusPart’s control that had been vital, but also something it had been initially hard for the Romans to fathom. Harris looked ill, close to death.
“You can’t catch cancer,” Harris said, his tone blunt. “Even the new kind.”
Pullus didn’t say anything.
“Some people here think you’re a god, don’t they?”
“It’s not something I encourage.”
“But you don’t enlighten them either, do you?”
Pullus didn’t respond.
“So are you a Roman now, Nick?”
Harris’s thin eyebrows raised a notch or two. His voice remained strong. It seemed at odds with the sunken flesh of his cheekbones. Pullus took a few more steps forward. Allowed himself a closer look at the man who’d threatened him all those years ago. He did a quick calculation in his head. Harris must be in his mid-sixties but he looked much older. It didn’t look like he had much time left.
“My name is Decimus Horatius Pullus.”
Harris seemed to consider this. “I’ve often wondered, what it would do to you,” he said. “Living here. I could understand your initial excitement, of course, but I wonder whether the lustre has started to wear thin? Whether you have trouble with some of the more… problematic parts of Roman life? Slavery? Girls forced to marry in their early teens? Capital punishment?”
Nick thought back to his last trip home. “Were you sent by the Bureau?”
Harris seemed to find the question amusing. “I was unsure if you’d even be here,” he said. “You left in quite a hurry, if rumour is right. It always has been difficult to work out what’s going on in Naples, but especially now—”
“What do you want?”
Harris nodded in the direction of the Vesuvian gate. Naso and his men were observing proceedings.
“Perhaps there’s somewhere we can talk in private?”
Pullus shook his head. “We’re the only ones here who can speak English.”
Harris again looked at Naso. “You’re sure?”
“You know I’m the only one left.”
“Ah, that’s right,” Harris said. “All the NovusPart people were butchered, weren’t they?”
Pullus didn’t answer.
“You killed McMahon,” continued Harris. “Stabbed him several times, I heard. And the Romans took care of Whelan. But the rest of the NovusPart staff… what happened to them, Nick?”
Pullus felt his throat constrict. “You know.”
“Why don’t you remind me?”
“They were crucified.”
“And you couldn’t stop them? I mean, the security staff would have been a threat, certainly. But the translators? The construction teams?”
Pullus didn’t respond. A flicker of a smile passed across Harris’s face. “So only you survived. The man who can’t be killed.”
“And is that why you’re here? To put the myth to the test?”
“I’m here because I need your help.”