Empire (The Golden Age, 2)

Written by Conn Iggulden
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley

Athens, 5th century BC. Empire is the second book in Iggulden’s Golden Age series which follows the fortunes of the Greek hero Pericles, ruler of Athens, and his arch-enemy, the Spartans. Pericles is only just holding on: a series of earthquakes have brought down temples and left his Athens in chaos, and somehow he must find a way to restore confidence and defeat Sparta once and for all. And for that, he must buy time. Sometimes, the only way to secure peace is to provoke war. Fortunately for Pericles, things have also been difficult for Sparta; earthquakes have flattened much of the city, leaving the Spartans exhausted and running out of food, weapons, and men; she should be in no state to fight. The question is: could Sparta ever recover? And, if so, how long would that take?

Iggulden’s thousands of fans know what to expect from him, and they will not be disappointed. He grasps us by our throats and yanks us into the story with deadly action-packed fights, and a body count where death comes suddenly. All captured Spartan helots are rounded up and dispatched with frightening efficiency. The scene-setting is meticulous, the pace is fast and tenacious, and the unexpected always happens. But Iggulden doesn’t just offer gritty and bloody action, he also thrusts us into the political intrigues of the time and rubs our noses in the reality of how it feels to be surrounded by an enemy who is without mercy, and expert in a thousand different ways of killing. We are there, with Pericles, as he fights to keep his country intact and to act as a beacon of light to his war-weary compatriots. I don’t doubt that Empire will add to Conn Iggulden’s list of bestsellers.