Italy, 618 AD
An army of invasion lurks in the Alps. Italy hovers on the brink of chaos.
Rodi, the youngest spy in the Imperial Secret Service, has been conscripted and sent as a spy from Ravenna by Eleutherius the Eunuch, who has plans to snatch the crown from the head of the country's now Byzantine rulers.
A mere boy in the cut-throat adult world, he finds himself knee-deep in bodies and snow in an Alpine pass which is all that separates post-Roman Italy from savage invaders from the North and East, hell bent on plunder.
Rodi finds an unexpected ally in a young Lombardian prince Aripert, a potential heir to the throne in the new Empire, who leads a small force sent to snuff out a suspected incursion by Frankish soldiers from the North.
But then onto the scene of slaughter ride the Hun-like Avars from the East - they too want booty.
From the frigid Alps of December, to the palaces of Ravenna, to the crumbling, plague-haunted streets of Rome itself, Rodi must race against time to do what may or may not be the Governor's bidding - and save Italy.
Can a boy succeed where others have failed?
Crown of Empire is a Roman espionage thriller, rich in period detail. It follows on from Game of Empires and Death in Ravenna.
Praise for Richard Blake:
"Fascinating to read, very well written, an intriguing plot and I enjoyed it very much." - Derek Jacobi, star of I Claudius and Gladiator
"Vivid characters, devious plotting and buckets of gore are enhanced by his unfamiliar choice of period... . Nasty, fun and educational." - The Daily Telegraph
"He knows how to deliver a fast-paced story and his grasp of the period is impressively detailed." - The Mail on Sunday
"A rollicking and raunchy read . . . Anyone who enjoys their history with large dollops of action, sex, intrigue and, above all, fun will absolutely love this novel." -Historical Novels
"It would be hard to over-praise this extraordinary series, a near-perfect blend of historical detail and atmosphere with the plot of a conspiracy thriller, vivid characters, high philosophy and vulgar comedy." The Morning Star
Richard Blake is a historian, broadcaster and university lecturer. He lives in Kent with his wife and daughter.
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Used availability for Richard Blake's Crown of Empire
June 2016 : Paperback
April 2016 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition