Conflict of Empires

Written by Sam Barone

This novel, third in the Empire series, is set in the early Bronze Age. Akkad, on the banks of the River Tigris, is now a rich city state, with enemies. It is an action and adventure story, a kind of Bronze Age Western, where hero, Eskkar, and his wife, the once slave and now mistress of spies and intelligence, Trella, face the might of the city state of Sumer, which aims to conquer the entire Tigris region. The plot is one of battles and spies, for the Akkadians refuse to sit at home and wait for Sumer to attack them. Eskkar and Trella take the battle to Sumer.

Eskkar is a likeable hero, with the usual dark secrets, and a band of reliable officers whose loyalty is without question. He’s a great warrior in the style of Alexander, defeating the enemy even when outnumbered. Trella and her women have a voice at all his councils; her advice is listened to. I wondered about the spy network, mapmaking, and measuring of distances. Nice touches, but I wanted an author’s note with the research sources and his reasons for thinking them feasible.

It’s a rollicking adventure, a light enjoyable read, but this is not a period I am familiar with and I do not feel any more familiar with now. There is an absence of historical setting – we could be in ancient Egypt or ancient Greece. In fact, as often happens in historical fiction, the book reveals more about the author’s culture and his beliefs than those of Akkad. For people who like historical novels to be about battles and the hero winning through impossible odds, Conflict of Empires is a must read novel. I’d certainly recommend it to while away the time on a long flight.