Raid of Souls (Empire Barons)

Written by Kalen Vaughan Johnson
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

In 1866, Nevada City, California, gold mining production is reaching a crucial turning point. Flooding of local rivers causes animosity between the mines, which use water in their production, and the ranchers and farmers who blame the large mining companies, specifically Empire Mines, because of their hydraulic methods. James MacLaren, a rancher, is also head of the employee union at Empire. He tries to work with the Board of Directors of Empire to improve the safety concerns raised by the employees. Unfortunately, the Board does not wish to go along with their demands, and trouble starts brewing in Nevada City.

The author brings the California gold mining production alive, packing in a wealth of well-researched detail. The big mining conglomerate is located miles from the mines. Their only interest is making money. Empire Mines is destroying the landscape while pushing the small mining operations out of business. Character interaction between the Union and the conglomerate adds depth and life to every character involved. Definitely read the first novel in the series, Robbing the Pillars, because Raid of Souls continues where the first novel ends. This is historical writing at its best.