Review of Game of Empires by Richard Blake
Overview from www.goodreads.com: Constantinople, 617 AD.
Chained up in a condemned cell, Rodi thinks it’s the last day of his life.
It becomes the first.
Though only fourteen, his brains and skill at forgery make him too valuable for the Roman Empire to waste on a public execution.
The Lord Treasurer Alaric recruits him into a top secret security agency – his job, once trained, is to turn the tables in the Empire’s war with the so far victorious Persians.
This is a story that takes you from the glittering palaces and sordid streets and brothels of the Imperial City, to the barbarian-ravaged provinces, to high mountain tops fringed with pine.
Here, with no one to help but a naïve Christian missionary, Rodi must prove himself in a contest with the devotees of an obscene and bloody idol and a Persian spy.
Can young Rodi survive and come out on top in this ruthless and secret Game of Empires…?
The story for this week takes place in an era and place that I have not seen a lot in Historical Fiction. The time is 617 AD. The place is Constantinople. For those of you who don’t already know, Constantinople is the old name for modern day Istanbul which is in Turkey.
Our main character, a young man named Rodi, is about to be executed for forgery. At the last minute his life is spared by Lord Alaric. In exchange, he must devote his life to his new master while working as a spy for the Byzantine Empire i. e. the Eastern half of the Roman Empire.
Scratch that. I might have gotten my facts wrong. I probably have. Sorry for the confusion.
Anyway, as he continues on his quest to find out what the Persians and their spy Ephraem have planned for the Empire. Already it seems that it will lose yet another chunk of its territory—Egypt. Now they must prevent the rest of the Empire from falling to the Persians.
The author tells this story well. It flows and intrigues. The characters are also intriguing and in no way stereotyped. Also, it is not as long as many Historical novels are which makes it easier to get through.
But I have to mention that I did stop reading it for a day or so and debated with myself whether or not I should continue reading.
There was some language that I didn’t like. Also certain elements of the story bothered me. I tried to ignore it and continue reading though because I liked the writing and rarely have the chance to read something from this time period.
I did like the historical background at the beginning of the story, even if it was a bit different. My memories of studying the Byzantine Empire were a little sketchy so even though I at first wondered what was going on, later into the story I appreciated it.
It was a good story though, so if you are not put off by the things I mentioned, you might give it a try. Though I am glad I finished it, I am not sure if I would read another one or not. We’ll see.