Khoury has built his reputation as a top author on novels with a fantasy spin. Not dragons, Greek gods, nor any of the many situations built on an unworldly story. All are well done, well written and based on a certain change to the real world.
“Empire of Lies” is no exception. The plot revolves around an alternative to our present world with changes to current reality that could be true if one subscribes to the difference between our world and what is presented. The novel opens in the alternative world postulated by the author.
This is a situation in which Polish King John Sobieski at the head of a combined European army defeated and stopped an invasion of Europe by Ottoman Turks in 1683. The Ottoman army had reached Vienna, were surrounding the city and were about to conquer it and then move further into Europe. The situation at the beginning of this novel is that something happened to Sobieski and his staff killing them, and the Ottoman invasion succeeded setting up an alternative world stemming from the defeat of the west in 1683.
Kamal Arslan Agha, an officer in the Sultan’s secret police and, based in Paris has begun questioning the situation around him which is becoming more and more autocratic. He feels that the freedoms guaranteed to the people are becoming eroded with the government becoming a dictatorship.
When he is called on to investigate a stranger appearing naked on the banks of the Seine and brought to a hospital, Kamal learns a strange secret which the Sultan wants to keep secret. He begins an investigation of this secret aided by his sister-in-law Nisreen, who is an outspoken civil rights lawyer. The two are caught up in the secrets of the enlarged Ottoman Empire and find themselves learning about the real circumstances of the battle of 1683, traveling through the empire and learning about a concept of time that is unknown to most of the world.
Very well written, ensuring that the reader will finish the book in one sitting this novel is Raymond Khoury at his best.
10/19 Paul Lane
EMPIRE OF LIES by Raymond Khoury. Forge Books (October 1, 2019). ISBN 978-1250210968. 448p.