It is 1001 Anno Rex, and the emperor of the Empire of Kristianborg, the tyrannical Severus Valentinian, has been assassinated.
Severus leaves behind four sons, each born by a different queen consort—but without declaring an heir before his death, the throne lies vacant. Zeno, Andronikos, Leo, and Commodus all covet the illustrious title of emperor. However, they will need the support of the Council of Archons and the power of the Yeneceri army—the most prominent, most formidable soldiers in the dominion—to obtain it.
Zeno’s mother, Eleonora Ulrika, who climbed the ranks from a woman of lesser nobility to a powerful consort, uses all her wit, charm, and appeal to gain support for her son. She has spent years guiding him to become a competent warrior and military leader, especially for this very moment. However, the other queen consorts are no delicate flowers, and each wants her son on the throne. Battles, murder, bribes, and treachery ensue as each vies for the pinnacle of power.
Yet against this backdrop of politics, war, and a fight for the throne lies something more sinister, something more threatening, something no one empire of men can hold back. . . .
A tale of politics, intrigue, war, and lust, Year of the Four Emperors sets the stage for the forthcoming books in The Grand Duchess series .
Khan creates four very different personalities for each brother, leading readers to understand how each has a fault that could ultimately lead to their demise. Beyond their personal weaknesses, like gluttony, the succession also is shaped by many other influences, with other nobles and politicians taking sides and moving their own pieces, and their dangerous enemies, the Vampir, waiting for the opportunity to take them all down. Khan relishes the intrigue, introducing a host of different characters and creatures with their own agendas, plus a varied number of threats, keeping the cast and readers of political fantasy on edge.
Across many different lands and jumping back and forth through several timelines, Khan covers a great deal of story in a short time. While it all comes together nicely by the end, the richness and complexity of the story can prove challenging, as Khan often leaves it to readers to work out the particulars of what timeline they are reading about, and how characters and events will affect the overall story. A lengthy prologue lacks urgency, a hurdle for readers intrigued by the book’s strong, inventive premise and conflict.
Takeaway: Intriguing story of royal succession, political machinations, and a mother’s ambitions.
Comparable Titles: John Gwynne’s The Shadow of the Gods, Django Wexler’s Emperor of Ruin.
Design and typography: A_
Marketing copy: A