The Emperor’s Knives by Anthony Riches

Having survived their brush with the Emperor Commodus, the Tungrian Cohort take up residence in Rome awaiting their orders. For Centurion Corvus this is the opportunity he has been waiting for. Determined to avenge the killing of his family he must go up against the dark forces of the Imperial Palace.

This fearsome and shadowy group has Rome gripped by fear, used by the Imperial palace as assassins and revenue collectors, they make whole families disappear and ensure that their property ends up in the Imperial coffers.

From the heights of a Senator, though a Pratorian officer,  street gang boss down to the deadliest of them all a Champion gladiator  Corvus has sworn revenge on them all.


With the unswerving support of his fellow officers and friends, Corvus knows he must descend into the murky and dangerous underworld of Rome if he is to avenge his family. 

But Corvus must contend with more than just the the dangers of going up against these men, his informant is an enemy from the past who is playing a game of his own and with rival factions within the senate showing an interest, Corvus must tread carefully if he is to survive.

The journey will take him from the depraved palaces for the Roman elite and all the perversions you can imagine to the roar of the crowd and fifty thousand people demanding blood in the Coliseum. 

Corvus’s enemies feel safe in their power and the terror they inspire but Corvus is made of iron and he has hatred burning in his veins and a determination to destroy the power of the Emperor’s Knives.

The Emperor’s Knives is the seventh book in Anthony Riches Empire series. I have been a fan of the books since the first, Wounds of Honour was published.

All of the previous books have been set on the far flung borders of the Empire and normally involves a set piece battle against Rome’s enemies,  this book though is a real departure from this tried and tested formula.

Set in the murky and dangerous world of Rome and her inhabitants, this book features much more than the previous books. Riches explores the anger and bitterness that consumes Corvus and ultimately the futility of revenge but it also shows the power of friendship and comradeship that exists within a group of men who have to deal with death on a daily basis.

The dialogue is snappy and fast paced and I don’t believe that there is a better writer in capturing the banter between soldiers, it can be rude and brutal but at times hilariously funny and on occasions will make you laugh out loud.

Its a clever story line and allows the reader to experience the full spectrum of Rome of the time. From the opulence and decadence of the Rome elite to the ordinary Roman and their daily struggle to survive and on to the glamour and danger of the gladiators you get a real feel of the attraction and revulsion of the power that is Rome.

This is one of those books that once you start reading you find it impossible to put down, I found myself still reading it a 3am on a school night. Its a gripping story and in my opinion is the best book of the series.

It will be interesting to see where Mr Riches will takes this series next but I know this book will be a hard act to follow.

The Emperor’s Knives is available in Hardback now






About readinggivesmewings

Father of two girls with two passions, Reading and history. If I can combine the two then I am a happy person!
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