Review: Emperor’s Axe (The Imperial Assassin #3) by Alex Gough

Rating: 10/10


The fate of Rome, and thousands of lives, rests on the shoulders of one man.

After murdering his brother, and taking the position of Emperor for himself, Caracalla orders a brutal purge of the supporters of Geta.

Meanwhile, Caracalla’s ally Marcellus, along with his family, is captured by Syrian warriors. They wish to use his son, Avitus, as a puppet emperor to affirm a new Eastern Empire.

Caracalla orders Silus to track down and rescue Avitus, rumoured to be Caracalla’s child. As Rome buckles beneath the weight of internal slaughter and external threat, only Silus stands in the way of death and destruction on an incomparable scale


Thank you to Canelo and Sophie for this wonderful and dazzling historical window into the past. This review will contain minor spoilers. I love Roman historical fiction, Egyptian historical fiction, and I love anything about the Ancient World if I am honest. This was a treat to read. This review contains minor spoilers. I will not spoil the plot as it is best you will figure this out.

This adventure is something out of the extraordinary. It feels like I’m in a virtual tour of Assassin’s Creed, except in the historical era. The worldbuilding is some of the best I have seen that makes this world really believable. The descriptions of Alexandria is meticously well researched, meticously well written, and more to the point well done. On this note, if you want to see Alexandria in the Ptolemaic Age, download Assassin Creed Origins, and you can buy the game, or the virtual tour. You can use Xbox 1, Steam, Playstation. Most of the research that Alex has done will show up in the game.

This book also explores the religious conflicts that today will seem as if it is a matter of the past. The religious matters and conflicts of Alexandria are well brought into perspective. I also like that Alex showed that the glorious religions of their time have become corrupted to an extent. Egypt is now full of revolutionaries, scheming priests and who can blame them? At one point, Egypt ruled the world. Egypt was glorious, Egypt was the world. That all fell when the Persians invaded and since then, there was a rebellion by an Egyptian Pharoah in Ptolemaic Egypt before that was also crushed. It is no wonder the Egyptians, an ancient people, feel they too need some of that glory back. And the Greeks still clinging onto their sense of superiority, and the Christians. Alexandria was perhaps a city full of scheming conflict. I mostly think that there were deeper strings being pulled in the background.

And all to get a boy to become a High Priest of a Mountain God, and there’s an interesting hint you should take. There was the discussion between Carcacella and Geta to spilt the Empire a century before Constantine did. Atius and Silus explore this religious conflict that is central to this book. It is an interesting discussion and array of thoughts. One of the scenes I liked was when Silus used his title to grab something. Read onto find out. This is around the early 200s, and this is literally the powder-keg, which at one point, Constantine will begin the new legacy of Christanity that will come to change the Roman Empire forever. It makes me wonder if there was an alternate history of this. What if Christanity had remained where it was, and the Roman religion had instead adopted with other Gods? There’s a lot of debate to this. It does explain how people by the late 200s were beginning to get out of this pluaristic ideal and become more self-isolationist. When you compare the Bronze Age, the Assyrians used to steal statures of Marduk from Babylonian Temples.

At one point, ancient religions have had their ancestral golden age. Then after that age is over, its gone. It’s common in Hindusim since we’re in age of Kali-Yuga. The very name itself gives you that indication. There was the Hermetic prophecies where Thoth, the Egyptian God of Writing and Knowledge, wrote that one day the Gods would leave Egypt. The Egyptians did not belong to the land of the Nile. They were descendents of the Altanteans before them. If you read about Altantis and Thoth there is some theory regarding this. It’s just a fun little tid-bit of a theory. But do you see the point I am making? This book really gives you an idea of all the religious conflicts, and Alex has written very well on the descriptions of the religions.

Caracella was really a ruthless man. He was like what if Nero was actually even more competent? His father Septimus Servus had done a lot of work of keeping the Empire stable. Caracella was a bit like Caligua, that he undid all of that work which would then also lead into the events of the Crisis of the Third Century, which suffice to say brought the Empire to its knees. Some will disagree with me, but Rome after that could not really maintain such a large power-status as it once did. The Franks, the Alemmani, the Goths, all knew that the Romans could be provoked and they would be circled. Of course there’s a lot of debate into this.

Alex really has a wonderful way of writing the Egyptians. I loved his description style and wished he would write a series on Egypt, at the height of its power during the Napoleon of Egypt’s reign. Thutmose III: The Napoleon of Ancient Egypt that ruled from 1479 – 1425 BC. I think Alex would do so well in writing a series of this era.

This book is great, not only because of Silus’s fortiude, but because of his skill and cunning. I like the Egyptian Priestress and wished there was more. Silus has a remarkable knack of tolerance, and he’s a good man. And Atius, at times he also brings himself to question a lot. Read onto find out more. Silus and Atius are both members of the Arcani, a deadly Roman order that deals with the Emperor’s enemies and deals with them. Read on because there’s a lot to take in, but it can’t be summarised so easily.

This book has dazzling writing, amazing prose, breath-taking dialogue, and Avtius and Issa are the best characters ever. For Marcellus, he’s a bit of a man that follows orders but doesn’t see what’s around him. Ganny is like that cunning tutor that manipulates from behind and Marcellus’s wife is crazy and delusional with splendour of power.

Fantastic Book, Fantastic work, I LOVED THIS! Honestly books in this world are the next best thing.


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