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Dark Empress – Fantasy Saga

with 2 comments

ISBN: 1908147210 (398pp)


Dark Empress is the third Tale of the Empire, following Interregnum and Ironroot. Where Interregnum is an epic tale of war, politics and redemption, and Ironroot is a fantasy/ancient whodunnit, Dark Empress is a saga following the lives of three children from the desert borderlands of the Empire as they grow to maturity during a period of war and decay. It is by far the darkest tale so far, yet I feel it is, upon completion, one of the most satsfying and uplifting I have written.


The desert nomads have a saying: “When something is broken it should never be discarded. So long as the pieces remains, the whole can be remade.”

A time of trials, war and terror is coming to the desert city of M’Dahz, the Empire’s southern bastion. As the Empire’s government falters and crumbles, the people suffer.

But Samir, Ghassan and Asima, childhood friends and citizens of M’Dahz, are about to discover that while people change the world, the world also changes people and that the best and worst of folk are forged in hardship.

——- Excerpt from Dark Empress ——-

“You may have been important in M’Dahz, little one, but here you’re just fresh meat.”

Samir’s heart raced. He was good under pressure and he knew it, but this was so far beyond his territory he really had no idea how to react. He swallowed. The important thing was to stay in control of himself. That way he had a hope of gaining control of the situation as time progressed.

Setting his jaw stubbornly, he turned to the assembled crowd, fighting down the panic and compacting it in his gut into a hard resolve.

“Very well. We’re obviously some distance from M’Dahz now. You’re clearly not a Pelasian vessel and the Empire won’t be sending ships here these days. The militia have gone and merchants are not in the habit of pressing unconscious drunks into service.”

He smiled a smile that he hoped was as irritating and condescending as it felt.

“I assume therefore that this is a pirate vessel and I am now, whether I like it or not, in fact, a pirate.”

Though no one replied, there was a chorus of vaguely affirmative noises from the other occupants of this dark space. Irritating, because now Samir was going to have to build up the respect of his peers from scratch once again and learn the ropes of this place. Clearly, short of a suicidal escape attempt to swim dozens of miles of open sea, he was stuck here for now and would have to make the most of it.

He smiled to himself. Perhaps this was actually a blessing in disguise. While he had entered his new life at M’Dahz with great plans of using the criminal classes of the town to foment rebellion against the Pelasians, he had to admit how easily he’d let himself slide into the simplicity of a life of few morals and lost sight of his original purpose.

Pirates! Pirates could be a great deal more use than a few smugglers and thieves.

His smile widened. All the more reason to push this as far as it would go. If you needed respect, the first thing to do was to test your limits. Once you knew how far you were allowed to go, you knew what you had to continually exceed to gain respect, or at least fear.

“I’ve met pirates several times. Saw a captain behead a merchant in M’Dahz once. And since pirates are, in my experience, grown men with brains and cunning, I can only assume that you are either captives or that perhaps you clean the shitters, yes?”

Several growls greeted this comment. Samir began to relax. Some crowds were so predictable it was almost a shame to play them.

“Well? Any of you young ladies got enough of a voice to tell me what ship this is.”

The leader at the back folded his arms and sat back on a crate.

“You are either exceptionally brave or monumentally stupid, boy. My lads will tear you to pieces for that.”

Samir shrugged.

“Bring it to me. I have gutted Pelasian captains, learned to fight well from a desert warrior and dirtily from the docks of M’Dahz. And I am not remotely afraid of any of your catamites, my friend.”

The figures, barring the leader who remained seated on his crate, began to step slowly and purposefully forward from the shadows. Samir nodded to himself. This was going to hurt, but it was the first step to gaining a level of control.

With a smile, he scanned around and found a rib-shaped piece of timber perhaps two feet long and slightly curved; part of a broken barrel, probably. He hefted it for a moment and turned to face the advancing crowd.

“Alright. Who’s first?”


Written by SJAT

May 16, 2011 at 2:08 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Since I just finished reading Dark Empress this morning, it’s a little early for me to comment in detail. This book is so huge, that to discuss particulars I need a little time to let it sink in. My thoughts in general? FANTASTIC! The story spans 25 years and has three main characters. It’s jam-packed with swordfighting, explosives, murder, harems, pirates and their ships, battles, intrigue, … Simon kept all the details flowing smoothly. And he wrote so many different scenarios, expertly. Like I said, it is really huge! I couldn’t wait to pick up the book and see what was next. I loved every page of it. Jules


    Red Sonja

    August 1, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    • Phew, thanks. This is the first thing I’ve written that I was totally unsure how it would be received, so that’s not only an ecstatic pleasure, but also an amazing relief. Look forward to chatting to you in due course, my dear!



      August 2, 2011 at 8:59 am

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