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    Review of EMPIRE OF BLOOD by Richard A. Knaak (see his website)


    Wizards of the Coast, May 2005

    The minotaur rebels, flush from a great victory over their empire, are forced to turn to the traditional minotaur god to protect them from disease as the god of decay strikes back. But one victory over a legion far from the empire's center, does not make for a successful revolt. When attempts to negotiate with the one honorable member of the enemy empire, Maritia, fail, the nephew of the murdered ex-emperor, Faros, realizes he must strike directly into the heart of the empire--to eliminate the evil temple and control the capitol.

    Faros's efforts are helped by the minotaur Queen's decision to centralize all power and goods distribution with the temple. Her fears and religion compell her to create new enemies--out of minotaurs who would be loyal. Still, the sacrifices she makes for her god give her, and her favored son, incredible power--power that Faros seems unlikely to be able to stand against.

    Meanwhile, Golgren, leader of the ogre clan, is finally repelled by the Queen's bizarre decisionmaking and breaks his alliance with the minotaurs.

    The moral ambivalence that lent interest to the earlier books in this series is now gone as the clash between rebel and empire also becomes a clash between good and evil, and a battle between the gods themselves. Still, author Richard A. Knaak's (see more reviews of novels by Knaak) fast-paced writing keeps the story moving forward, engaging the reader's interest in Faros's battles with himself, with his god, and with the forces of the empire. Golgren plays only a minor role in the story, but he is the most interesting character, ambitious, willing to do whatever it takes to pursue his ambition, but not at all unsympathetic. I'm sure we'll see more of him in future stories of minotaur and ogre.

    If you read the earlier novels in this series, you'll definitely want to pick up EMPIRE to see how Knaak brings the forces of rebellion and empire together in a great clash at the capital city's walls. Readers who haven't yet read the earlier stories will probably want to pick those up as doing so will give the reader an appreciation of why this battle matters.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 8/13/05

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