If there’s one thing I’ve learned after reading so many of Mr. Turney’s works, it is that to expect the unexpected. In this the fifth volume in Tales of the Empire we find the Empire invading the isle of Alba; it is reminiscent of Rome in Britain but with enough plot twists to keep the reader guessing as this invasion is fraught with much more than just battles between 3 legions and tribal warriors. As in the previous four volumes in this series, we are introduced to a whole new set of characters and with the action mostly on Alba, a new location. Once again, the author shines as he creates his characters with a wide range of personalities. The three tribunes are a good example of that as each one has something different about him to bring to the table. Of nasty specimens be assured that there are plenty and they are wonderful additions indeed. The reader also gets to enjoy the imaginative descriptive prowess of the author as he paints a vivid picture of the surroundings and the hill forts; especially the fortress of the Queen. Another winner for Mr. Turney; that’s also to be expected. 🙂
The fourth installment of this historical fantasy of a Roman like world finds the Empire flourishing under the guiding hands of the Emperor Kiva and his brother Quintillian who is his principle adviser and military strategist. However, there are others who have designs on this empire and will go to great lengths to see it come under new ownership. Thus, we the readers are treated to a story replete with intricate plots and machinations as the Empire is threatened from numerous enemies, some of whom were thought to be friends and allies. The author has done a superb job in fleshing out this insurgency with some remarkable characters and exciting story lines. The atmosphere is tense, the action is page turning and the world created by the author is recognizable to a student of Roman history yet different enough to make the readers use their imaginations as the action flits back and forth between regions. To summarize (without spoilers), the dude can spin a yarn and I hope he spins more in this highly entertaining series. 5 stars
Dark Empress, the third volume in the Tales of the Empire series is yet another exciting, engaging, entertaining entry from S.J.A. Turney. The story revolves around two brothers, Samir and Ghassan and their childhood friend Asima. A strong bond develops between the three but they soon find themselves torn apart after their home town is invaded and conquered by a sinister Pelasian satrap. How they diverge in their pursuits and the methods they use to try and reach their goals makes for three tense filled story lines. The author does a masterful job in character development and treats the reader to some fascinating scenarios that can only play out within the framework of their individual mindsets. Cunning, deviousness and sometimes downright nastiness fills the pages as the story unfolds to a breath taking finale. Retribution, revenge and redemption are the watchwords in this wonderful tale. I believe this is the best of the three Tales of the Empire and serves as a stepping stone to Mr. Turney’s later works especially his Ottoman Cycle. I heartily recommend this book and give it 5 stars.