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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just gets better and better
Review

When i first picked up Wounds of Honour in 2009 i had no idea i would be starting a journey of so much danger, excitement and action. Also when starting with a debut writer i had no idea i would be enjoying these books more and more every year, watching the skill of the writer grow and the depth of the plot increase with every tome.

Book 7 the...
Published 10 months ago by Parm

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not an accurate picture of an auctorati gladiator
The swordsmanship of the main hero appear to be superhuman and unrealistic. This story did little to convince me otherwise. The series would benefit from a more realistic character that sometimes comes across individuals that may even best him in one-on-one combat. To date, I can't recall this from having ever occurred.

*SPOILER ALERT*

The story also...
Published 2 months ago by Sectator of Mr Biffo


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just gets better and better, 13 Feb 2014
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Emperor's Knives (Empire) (Hardcover)
Review

When i first picked up Wounds of Honour in 2009 i had no idea i would be starting a journey of so much danger, excitement and action. Also when starting with a debut writer i had no idea i would be enjoying these books more and more every year, watching the skill of the writer grow and the depth of the plot increase with every tome.

Book 7 the Emperors Knives goes so much further than its predecessors, it truly is a book crammed with Machiavellian schemes, plots within plots, as our group of heroes try to help Marcus survive his honour and the machinations of the various schemers set against him within the walls of Rome. As with any Anthony Riches book the reader is left with that ever present feeling of the norns / fates, sat there spinning away the destinies of those in the book, Tony Riches joining them at the loom of life ready to snip an unsuspecting characters life thread at a moments notice either in a spectacular or blasé fashion. I shall not spoil the book by saying if anyone interesting dies…. but blood will be spilled and as writers go Tony is a bit of a swine to his men.

This book comes with a warning to readers, it is one that sucks away your time, you will sit down to read and find that the day has passed while you are marching with legions and uncovering plots. As ever i doff my cap to Tony Riches as he exceeds the plot and power of the previous book, something very very hard to keep doing, but the constant hard work and effort, the striving for more, the digging for detail in dusty research books, and the re-enactment that gives first hand experience, really pays off in the pages of this wonderful book.

I highly recommend this book, and if you have not read any of the Empire series (Why?) then please do start it now, you will not be disappointed. Seven books in and its just getting better and better.

(Parm)

if you want to see a great Q&A from the author go visit parmenionbooks.wordpress (.com) always good to peek behind the author curtain.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!, 19 Feb 2014
This review is from: The Emperor's Knives (Empire) (Hardcover)
The perfect gift for all Roman history enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
Anthony Riches Empire series goes from strength to strength with every succeeding novel, for me The Emperor's Knives is the best yet, without giving away spoilers, the narrative is, as usual fast paced (so much so that I was up until 2 in the morning ) all ones senses are alerted, full of murky intrigue, the visceral gore of the gladiators and the arena, to the smells and sounds of every day life in ancient Rome. The characterisations of the main protagonists have been explored to the full and you end up with the feeling that you were there in another life. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The action moves to Rome - brilliant Roman historical fiction!, 27 Feb 2014
By 
Kate (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Anthony Riches' Empire series has become essential reading for any fan of Roman history and historical fiction. It excels not just because of the standard of writing and the historical detail - which are always second to none - but because each book is different, each book surprises and thrills, while giving us more quality time with some of my very favourite Romans: Marcus Valerius Aquila and his cohort of larger than life Tungrians. Riches has refined his Empire recipe now to perfection. No surprises then that the seventh, The Emperor's Knives, is a candidate for the title of best of the series while also continuing the trend of being entirely different from any of the wonderful books that precede it.

It is extremely difficult to review a book that is seventh in a long running series. While you could undoubtedly read and enjoy The Emperor's Knives without having read any of the others, I must recommend that you instead start from the beginning and get to know and love these Tungrians and their officers just as much as I do. This review inevitably contains information about what has gone before, not least because The Emperor's Knives is a pivotal novel in the series and has a lot to do with how things ended in The Eagle's Vengeance. Having uttered my words of warning, I'll continue.

The Empire books might be one series but there are sub-series within it. The first three novels introduce our characters - Marcus, Scaurus, Dubnus, Julius, Arminius, Qadir, Martos and Felicia and others - on their missions along and north of Hadrian's Wall. In The Leopard Sword (book 4), the cohort moves away from the familiar into the unknown on the continent, discovering a whole host of new enemies and threats to do combat with. The individual adventures, of which there are many, are just one side to the novel; the other is the struggle of Marcus Valerius Aquila to survive to wreak vengeance on the agents who slaughtered his family in Rome. In The Emperor's Knives, following the outstanding confrontation of the last novel's conclusion, this reaches a head. This book marks a turning point in Marcus's story, moving the emphasis away from the Roman army and shifting it towards Roman politics with the action set in the very heart of Rome itself. This is a totally different enemy and it is embodied by the emperor's Knives, a small band of men whose fearful control of Rome Marcus and his legate Scaurus are determined to end.

The Emperor's Knives is a pageturner from start to finish. We know Marcus and Scaurus so well now that we fully understand how driven they are. After all this time, the end is in sight and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that they or their men will not do to win vengeance. The Tungrians themselves are billeted in Rome, waiting for their next orders, so they have plenty of time to help their officers in their plan and what an elaborate, satisfying plan it is too. We do spend time with the old favourites - there is still time for a laugh and mischief - but the mood is different. This is much more personal. There are also new characters to get to know as we're immersed in the contradictory worlds of politicians and gladiators. Another bonus here is the wonderfully-realised city of ancient Rome. I'll never look at the Colosseum with the same eyes again.

As is to be expected, there is violence and blood, vile language and gore. There is rage and fury by the cartload. There are also twists and surprises around every corner. The Emperor's Knives has a fantastic plot. It's thrilling but it's also clever. You just never know what horrors Anthony Riches is going to force upon our Tungrians next and that is as true in this book as it is in all the others. You've just got to hold on, keep an eye on your favourites and hope for the best.

The Empire series is set to run and run and if there is one series that can retain its freshness and exuberance, it's this one. Which is just as well because each addition to the series is a highlight of my reading year. Long may it continue. I'm grateful for the review copy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Roman historical fiction!, 9 Oct 2014
By 
Kate (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Anthony Riches' Empire series has become essential reading for any fan of Roman history and historical fiction. It excels not just because of the standard of writing and the historical detail - which are always second to none - but because each book is different, each book surprises and thrills, while giving us more quality time with some of my very favourite Romans: Marcus Valerius Aquila and his cohort of larger than life Tungrians. Riches has refined his Empire recipe now to perfection. No surprises then that the seventh, The Emperor's Knives, is a candidate for the title of best of the series while also continuing the trend of being entirely different from any of the wonderful books that precede it.

It is extremely difficult to review a book that is seventh in a long running series. While you could undoubtedly read and enjoy The Emperor's Knives without having read any of the others, I must recommend that you instead start from the beginning and get to know and love these Tungrians and their officers just as much as I do. This review inevitably contains information about what has gone before, not least because The Emperor's Knives is a pivotal novel in the series and has a lot to do with how things ended in The Eagle's Vengeance. Having uttered my words of warning, I'll continue.

The Empire books might be one series but there are sub-series within it. The first three novels introduce our characters - Marcus, Scaurus, Dubnus, Julius, Arminius, Qadir, Martos and Felicia and others - on their missions along and north of Hadrian's Wall. In The Leopard Sword (book 4), the cohort moves away from the familiar into the unknown on the continent, discovering a whole host of new enemies and threats to do combat with. The individual adventures, of which there are many, are just one side to the novel; the other is the struggle of Marcus Valerius Aquila to survive to wreak vengeance on the agents who slaughtered his family in Rome. In The Emperor's Knives, following the outstanding confrontation of the last novel's conclusion, this reaches a head. This book marks a turning point in Marcus's story, moving the emphasis away from the Roman army and shifting it towards Roman politics with the action set in the very heart of Rome itself. This is a totally different enemy and it is embodied by the emperor's Knives, a small band of men whose fearful control of Rome Marcus and his legate Scaurus are determined to end.

The Emperor's Knives is a pageturner from start to finish. We know Marcus and Scaurus so well now that we fully understand how driven they are. After all this time, the end is in sight and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that they or their men will not do to win vengeance. The Tungrians themselves are billeted in Rome, waiting for their next orders, so they have plenty of time to help their officers in their plan and what an elaborate, satisfying plan it is too. We do spend time with the old favourites - there is still time for a laugh and mischief - but the mood is different. This is much more personal. There are also new characters to get to know as we're immersed in the contradictory worlds of politicians and gladiators. Another bonus here is the wonderfully-realised city of ancient Rome. I'll never look at the Colosseum with the same eyes again.

As is to be expected, there is violence and blood, vile language and gore. There is rage and fury by the cartload. There are also twists and surprises around every corner. The Emperor's Knives has a fantastic plot. It's thrilling but it's also clever. You just never know what horrors Anthony Riches is going to force upon our Tungrians next and that is as true in this book as it is in all the others. You've just got to hold on, keep an eye on your favourites and hope for the best.

The Empire series is set to run and run and if there is one series that can retain its freshness and exuberance, it's this one. Which is just as well because each addition to the series is a highlight of my reading year. Long may it continue. I'm grateful for the review copy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STRENGTH TO STRENGTH., 22 Mar 2014
The perfect gift for all Roman history enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
Anthony Riches Empire series goes from strength to strength with every succeeding novel, for me The Emperor's Knives is the best yet, without giving away spoilers, the narrative is, as usual fast paced (so much so that I was up until 2 in the morning ) all ones senses are alerted, full of murky intrigue, the visceral gore of the gladiators and the arena, to the smells and sounds of every day life in ancient Rome. The characterisations of the main protagonists have been explored to the full and you end up with the feeling that you were there in another life. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not an accurate picture of an auctorati gladiator, 6 Oct 2014
This review is from: The Emperor's Knives (Empire) (Hardcover)
The swordsmanship of the main hero appear to be superhuman and unrealistic. This story did little to convince me otherwise. The series would benefit from a more realistic character that sometimes comes across individuals that may even best him in one-on-one combat. To date, I can't recall this from having ever occurred.

*SPOILER ALERT*

The story also didn't depict the auctorati (those who volunteer to become gladiators) accurately, with the protagonist not losing any of his worldly possessions (in theory, his wife, children and all their property should have been transferred to his new master).

Such auctorati were also rare, so to find not one but three legionary centurions, all to be volunteering at the same time came across as far-fetched. The third's auctorati's role felt a little forced too.

The manumission of the protagonist (and more importantly, his friend) also appears incredulous - why this was granted was not properly explained. So what if he had done as he was expected by those pulling the strings?...he was still the son of a disgraced senator and therefore deemed an enemy of the emperor. His friend was of little consequence being from a barbaric tribe of the North. It comes across as a little implausible that this would be overlooked by someone so close to the Emperor himself.

*SPOILER END*

Riches ability to story tell is not in doubt however his setting of Rome is merely a backdrop. While I do find the books a good read, I find myself questioning whether some of the plots could quite easily be transposed to another era of history. I've also noticed the author is also prone to particular writing 'habits' - for instance, if a character is not explicitly called out by name, one can in all probability expect them to die or be of little consequence to the main story line (much like the 'red shirts' in Star Trek who accompanied Kirk and Spock to an alien world). In contrast, a character that is named will invariably play a significant part in the story. While this style in itself is down to personal preference, it does make the storytelling predictable in that one knows whether the author is likely to develop a character or not (or is there merely as 'sword fodder') before it actually happens.

I hope Riches takes these comments on board as constructive feedback as opposed to criticism. I look forward to the continuing adventures of Marcus Aquila and his Tungrian friends.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vengeance is Sweet, Or Is It?, 21 April 2014
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Emperor's Knives (Empire) (Hardcover)
It seems only a short time ago that I was reading the first book in this series, Wounds of Honour published in 2009, and now we are up to the seventh book in the series. I am an avid reader of all things Roman, both fact and fiction and the books by this author are consistently up there with the best fictional writing on this period of history.

I enjoyed the book very much. Initially I did not think it was going to be as good as the others in the series. However Anthony Riches storyline and powerful writing style draw the reader into the plot and the book becomes unputdownable. Marcus Valerius Aquila, along with his comrades and fellow officers from the legion, are now back in Rome and seeking to exact retribution on the plotters involved in falsely accusing his father of treason and ultimately his death along with the other members of his family.

Those who have read the previous volumes to this one will know that Marcus Aquila has been trying to stay one step ahead of the assassins sent after him by the power crazed Emperor Commodus, while at the same time making plans to avenge the dishonour and death brought upon his family. This has been his destiny since his earliest days in the legion, manning Hadrian's Wall in the province of Britannia. It is this burning desire to avenge his family and clear the stain that has been set against his family name that has kept him going throughout the trials and tribulations he has faced in the furthest corners of the Empire. The story takes many twists and turns throughout the book.

Another enjoyable book from the author, who shows an historians knowledge of the workings of a Roman legion and also aids the reader greatly by including in the back of the book two graphics showing the chain of command, not only in a Roman Legion but also an Auxiliary Infantry Cohort. Anthony Riches draws the reader into this period of history with consummate ease. An added bonus for the reader is the addition of a short story, "The Centurion," at the end of this edition. This stand alone tale gives a different twist to the storyline.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient Romans..., 28 May 2014
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This review is from: The Emperor's Knives (Empire) (Hardcover)
This series of books is just amazing . So much so my son and I 'fight' over who reads the latest book first!
Anthony Riches writes with wit and humour and incredible historical knowledge, it makes one feel as if one is living in Roman times!
Can't wait for the next release.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting addition to the Empire series, 14 May 2014
This review is from: The Emperor's Knives (Empire) (Hardcover)
The latest instalment in Anthony Riches' Empire series is The Emperor's Knives. After a stint in Dacia and a short stay in Britannia, this outing takes Marcus and friends to the Eternal City, the Capital of the World, Rome itself. All of our favourite Tungrians are along for the ride and in Rome we meet some old acquaintances in the form of Senator Decimus Clodius Albinus, who we last saw in Dacia while still a legatus, and Tiberius Varius Excingus, someone Marcus last saw before his stay in Germania. These links are revealed early on, though never explained in-depth, but enough for a new reader to understand their context. And if that wasn't enough, there are gladiators! All of which makes for an exciting mix and a riveting story.

The book is filled with conspiracies and double crosses and no one's alliances are what they appear to be on the surface. Especially since Excingus' loyalties are for sale to the highest bidder and he also has his own agenda, which makes untangling the lines between all the players doubly complicated. In some cases, the mysterious talks become too mysterious, as at one point Scaurus has a talk with someone, whose identity I still haven't figured out. It's quite possible however that those who've read the entire series will know who this patron was. I also liked how Riches showed how quickly alliances in Rome could shift based on politics, honour, and personal gain.

Despite Excingus' ample help, almost leading Marcus and friends by the nose, in tracking and dealing with them, I was surprised by the apparent ease with which the first three Knives were dispatched. While the Tungrians are good, this was rather too easy. However, it does leave us free to follow Marcus in his quest to kill the last Knife, which forms the meat of the story. Marcus together with one of his fellow Tungrians joins the Dacian Ludus as a gladiator, so he can get close to Mortiferum, the last of the Emperor's Knives who killed his family. I loved this look at the inner workings of a gladiator school and the Flavian Amphitheatre better known as the Colosseum. There is an interesting metaphor for modern day celebrity culture to be found in the way gladiators became virtual slaves in order to win fame and fortune and the adulation of the people. Granted, not all gladiators became one by choice, it was also a punishment for criminals and the fate of many prisoners of war.

The philosophy behind this tale of revenge is interesting as in the end, Marcus himself admits revenge is hollow, feeling only emptiness once his revenge was accomplished instead of the satisfaction he'd expected to feel. There is a strange morality to this book where death is treated as an everyday occurrence and as a means of entertainment for the masses. In the previous two Empire books I've read the body count was equally high, but fascinatingly it only became disturbing in The Emperor's Knives. In all likelihood, this is due to the fact that many of the previous deaths took place in battle and this is a natural outcome of war, while the deaths in this book are often quite premeditated, not only killing those marked for vengeance, but also relatively innocent bystanders, whose biggest crime was for example drawing guard duty on the wrong night. And of course, the blood-letting in the arena, where men, women, and beasts are sent out to die in horrible combat or other indignities--the larger the amount of blood spilled, the louder the watching crowds cheered. Marcus is an honourable man, he's never written as anything less, yet in this book he's also a cold-hearted killer, killing everything standing between him and the objects of his revenge, something that felt jarring and a little disturbing.

There is also a lot of humour and ingenuity in The Emperor's Knives. I loved the ruse the Tungrians set up to protect Felicia, when she goes to live in her father's house in the city of Rome, instead of the cohorts' barracks. The barber shop is fantastic and quite funny, especially the way that the less-than-reputable standard bearer Morban runs the shop. In the scenes in the shop and throughout the book there is an enormous amount of banter to be found; often it's off-colour and low-brow, at times dry or acidic, but it feels genuine and adds comic punctuation for the darker scenes in the book. My favourite addition to the cohorts' forces was the group of engineers headed by Avidus, as sappers are a special breed and I hope they'll be around in the next book as well.

The Emperor's Knives is a wonderful addition to the Empire series. Rounding out a multiple book story arc with Marcus' family avenged, it'll be interesting to see where Riches will take Marcus and the Tungrians next, especially given the commissions handed out at the end of the book. I'm really glad that I took a chance and started the Empire series five books in, as the three I've now read are excellent and Marcus and company make for great entertainment. While The Emperor's Knives needs perhaps a bit more grounding in the series than the previous two books, it still stands alone exceedingly well. If historical fiction set in the Roman Empire is to your taste, you can't afford to miss The Emperor's Knives.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So convenient... But still good., 26 Oct 2014
By 
DWB1873 - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Having read the previous 6 I had a good idea what to expect and the book didn't disappoint. As with previous ones it flows well, is exciting in parts and generally a good way to spend a few hours.

I do think though that this one pushed the boundaries in credibility. The characters get away with a huge amount that a civilised society is unlikely really to have overlooked. I understand the story, to a degree, does explain this near the end but even so....I think that ending is used possibly a bit too heavily to close off loose ends, but at least they are closed.

Also, it's amazing how conveniently things happen to ensure the main characters achieve their aims. In some ways, this is very refreshing as the trend recently has been for authors to kill off their heroes to keep it "real". So good on you Anthony for having a hero who we don't have to watch suffering excessively and who we can, almost, always believe is going to come through.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book - but as with the lead character, my eye brow was raised on numerous occasions... But that's the joy of fiction.

Interestingly, unlike the latest Scarrow book, which I felt was rather dull and to me seems a series in decline, I will be looking forward to the next one in this series.
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The Emperor's Knives (Empire)
The Emperor's Knives (Empire) by Anthony Riches (Hardcover - 13 Feb 2014)
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