Empire IX: Altar of Blood

Written by Anthony Riches
Review by Christopher James

The ninth book in Riches’ highly acclaimed Empire sequence, Altar of Blood takes the protagonists, centurion Marcus Aquila and supporting cast from the ‘Tungrian’ cohorts, across the Rhine to the forests of Germany with an important mission from the Emperor, or perhaps a pretext to have them conveniently killed. The Emperor is the infamous Commodus, whose depravities even they cannot escape.

The mission is to abduct a tribal priestess from under the noses of a hostile German tribe, the title of the book referring to their sacrificial altar. They face danger on all sides. Altar of Blood is a novel of comradeship and survival against the odds with added intrigue; another great military page-turner from Riches. Although this can be read as a stand-alone novel, I recommend that readers start with the first Empire novel (Wounds of Honour) and read the whole series, which I think they will find one of the best of the genre.