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The Empire, it Strikes Back!

By G.S. Williams, author of No Man An Island

Jul 30, 2008: An Empire of Law (AEOL) is a vast political thriller and a fantasy serial, all in one. Griffins and wizards inhabit a world of forests and deserts, and the emperor declares war on the magic users when one of their number assassinates his wife.

With diverse characters and the intrigues of the imperial court, AEOL offers fast-paced action on a grand scale. Each chapter increases interest and suspense, as stakes are raised in the conflict. The author, Allan T. Michaels, has clearly given a lot of thought to the history of his fantasy world, and populated it very realistically.

AEOL is a traditional fantasy story, in the tradition of Tolkien, Guy Gavriel Kay and others of note. If I have any complaints at all (as Allan’s writing improves on a weekly basis) it’s that the story isn’t as original a premise as his other work, Superstition, even though it has a better pace and grittier characters.

The first Book of the tale has finished at chapter 100, and looking at the entirety of the story so far, my rating doesn’t change much. I appreciate Allan’s imagination and his action scenes can be breath-taking, when he describes a skirmish or hand-to-hand combat.

I have ambiguous feelings about the political intrigues in the story—Allan creates a very thorough history and laws for his imaginary world, and the aristocrats within it use diplomacy, force, and deception quite well. The thought processes and conversations are like intellectual chess as the politicians think about ramifications and manipulate events. However, while the cerebral parts of the story can be almost as thrilling as the action, sometimes they seem to dominate the story.

Allan’s writing continues to improve and evolve, so I’m left looking forward to his future projects, and the hope that he returns to the Empire soon to draw together all the threads into the coming revolution that seems to be on the horizon. Then I’m sure intrigue and action will balance in a struggle of epic proportions.

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