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Dawn of Empire

by Sam Barone

      The Alur Meriki, barbarians to a man, thunder across the sands of Mesopotamia looking for villages to sack. They are a fierce warrior tribe, wild and free, who despise those early farmers and settlers that they call "dirt eaters". But the village of Orak has already been sacked once eleven years before, and it won’t stand for it again. Now it has a new man in charge, Eskkar the former barbarian, aided by his clever wife Trella. Together they will rally the villagers to enclose the village with a wall and hold off the incoming Alur Meriki, or die in the attempt.

Stirring stuff! I expect you are envisaging a book full of blood and action, where heads roll in the sand on every page. I certainly was, but actually this is not that sort of book at all. It is rather too long for its own momentum, but a fascinating account of a village planning some clever defense strategies and putting them into successful action. This probably makes it sound a bit static and unexciting, but there are battles and skirmishes during which you will no doubt be cheering Eskkar and his villagers on. Barone has a good storyteller style that sucks the reader into the story and does not let go, no mean feat considering the book’s length. What it does lack is a sense of time and place. I could have been reading a fantasy novel most of the time, something that Barone would be truly adept at writing. Apart from the odd mention of a deity, the Orakians are a remarkably secular people for the ancient world, and their manners, dress, homes and way of life belong to no particular place or period. I had been looking forward to reading about the ancient Mesopotamians, not a people featured in fiction as a rule, and was disappointed. So, read this book for an absorbing tale and head for a museum to find out about who really lived on the banks of the Tigris five thousand years ago...

The Book

August 2007
0060892455 / 9780060892456
Historical Fiction [3149 BC Mesopotamia]
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2007
© 2006