Interregnum by SJA Turney
For twenty years civil war has torn the Empire apart; the Imperial line extinguished as the mad Emperor Quintus burned in his palace, betrayed by his greatest general. Against a background of war, decay, poverty and violence, men who once served in the proud Imperial army now fight as mercenaries, hiring themselves to the greediest lords.
On a hopeless battlefield that same general, now a mercenary captain tortured by the events of the past, stumbles across hope in the form of a young man begging for help. Kiva is forced to face more than his dark past as he struggles to put his life and the very Empire back together. The last scion of the Imperial line will change Kiva forever.
Interregnum, noun, a period when normal government is suspended, especially between successive reigns or regimes. ORIGIN Latin, from inter- ‘between’ + regnum ‘reign’.
Oxford English Dictionary
Interregnum is a story of redemption, set in a war-torn world based upon the latter days of the crumbling Roman Empire. Written using a contemporary narrative, it is resplendent with lifelike and likeable characters and an action-packed and accomplished example of historical fiction/alternate history.
The book’s overriding theme of lost hope and lost nobility takes human form in the shape of Kiva, Interregnum’s lead. Kiva is a hardened, bitter veteran, the captain of a band of mercenaries called the Grey Company. Having served in the great Imperial military under the Emperors, Kiva and his men are now reduced to swords-for-hire but a chance encounter with Quintillian, a prisoner on the island of Isera, changes both their lives and the future of the very Empire.
A character-driven novel, viewed from multiple perspectives, Kiva and Quintillian are just two amongst a cast of many. Those who stand out most from the crowd are: Athas, Kiva’s right hand man and sergeant in the Grey Company; Sarios, once chief minister of the Empire and now a prisoner of Isera; Velutio, previously a general in the Imperial army and now the most powerful lord and landowner in the Empire; Tythias, scarred and disfigured, a veteran of the Imperial army. Interregnum’s characters are its real strength. But Sabian, a brilliant tactician and morally upstanding man, shines brighter than all of the above.
The penal island of Isera, once the greatest of Imperial Palaces, is where large sections of the book are set and it is another real highlight. The following words are from Interregnum’s author SJA Turney on the origins of Isera:
“As to the island prison, the whole background of Isera is a combination of two places. One is the Imperial Palace complex on the Palatine in Rome, which fits the bill of what Isera was in the days of the Emperors. The other is the Island of Capri. In the reign of the Emperor Tiberius, Capri became something of an Imperial retreat. On suffering personal tragedies, Tiberius left the running of Rome to the senate and built twelve villas on Capri, one for each of the 12 Olympian Gods. He spend many years on the island, becoming increasingly melancholic and is said to have taken to the habit of throwing slaves and young folk to their death from the balcony high above the rocky coastline. Essentially, the increasing (and obviously hereditary) madness of the Julio Claudian line is well documented, from Tiberius' melancholy to Caligula's violence to Nero's megalomania and the Julio-Claudian line gave me something of the base for the Imperial family in Interregnum. In many ways, Capri became a prison to Tiberius and to all his staff, servants and slaves, while Rome was run in his name.”
Interregnum is a riveting tale, the author’s detailed knowledge and comprehensive research result in making the tale believable with a genuine feeling of authenticity. It is a military-based tale that surprises with its pacifist undertones, featuring pleasant plot twists and turns, which ensure that events never at any time become formulaic.
However, there is an element of the narrative that will divide opinions and that is the use of modern language and profanities within the dialogue. Turney explains why he opted for this approach:
“The use of contemporary dialogue is something that's been brought up on both this and Marius' Mules, which was my earlier Historical Fiction novel. Certainly in Interregnum I made no effort to tone down or dance around the use of modern language and profanity. I feel that when the subject matter is, as in the case of Interregnum, largely dark, military, brutal and male-oriented, the language is much more fitting and helps set the scene. I think that of the comments I've received on the language, opinion has been divided roughly equally between people who felt disappointed by the use of modern vulgarities and people who found it enjoyable and helpful in getting the feel of the situations. In all, whether people love it or hate it, I'd rather make the dialogue stand out than fade into the background.”
The use of modern language and profanity will, as the author stated, probably divide opinions – some will love it, some may be less enamoured.
The fighting is very well done; it is brutal and very realistic. The political intrigue, which plays such a large part, is also well conceived.
It should be mentioned that the book was published trough YouWriteOn.com, the website where Douglas Jackson (Caligula) was first spotted, and as such has not been lucky enough to have the services of a large team of editors on it. As such, there are some typos and the sentence structure is not always firm but this is to be expected, and allowed for, in a self-published book. As it stands Interregnum is a very good book, a team of highly skilled editors could turn it into an excellent book.
Interregnum shows that Turney not only has an excellent imagination but also a gift for storytelling. It is exciting, involving, moving and thought provoking, an accomplished example of historical fiction/alternate history.
SJA Turney lives North Yorkshire. Educated at Teesside Polytechnic and Keele University where he studied Classical History.
The urge to write and the urge study Classical history have combined to produce two novels, Milius’ Mule and Interregnum.
The excerpt below is taken from Interregnum and tells of the dangerous and risky approach to the island of Isera:
Isera is a wonderful invention and stays fresh in the mind long after the final page is turned. The excerpt below shows our first encounter with the island:
“The small vessel rocked and shook as it rode the troughs and crests of waves in the narrow channel that led to Isera. The island had been a place of fortification and safety long before the days of Imperial power due to the treacherous system of reefs and rocks that formed a horseshoe around it. The only safe route for a vessel was through a narrow channel that led from the main dock on the island to the Livia Port in the city of Velutio, once the Imperial capital. Even in that channel the journey was hazardous enough that only the most stouthearted sailor would attempt the journey in anything but the calmest of seas. At the height of its power, the Empire’s engineers had created seawalls that calmed this single passage with a complex system of rest stops and windbreaks. In those days the Emperor’s pleasure barge would ply the channel with no fear. The days of Imperial surety were long gone, as were the sea defences. Now only a madman would make the journey.”
Interregnum: Swords and Ploughshares
This Interregnum book review was written by Floresiensis
Have you read Interregnum?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Interregnum reader reviews
8.6/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, a...
Guy Gavriel Kay
For two years Shen Tai has mourned his father, living like a hermit beyond the borders of the Kitan Empire, by a mountain lake where terrible battles have long been fought ...
The Yiddish Policemen's Union
What if, as Franklin Roosevelt once proposed, Alaska - and not Israel - had become the homeland for the Jews after World War II? In Michael Chabon's Yiddish-speaking ...
Hats off to Brandenburg
London, 1815 – The Roxy Playhouse is in trouble! The Roxy Playhouse Irregulars, those libertine artists and dreamers, are up to their necks in debt – “Pay...
The Master and Margarita
Moscow, 1929: a city that has lost its way amid corruption and fear, inhabited by people who have abandoned their morals and forsaken spirituality. But when a mysterious st...
Catherynne M Valente
Child of the revolution, maiden of myth, bride of darkness. A handsome young man arrives in St Petersburg at the house of Marya Morevna. He is Koschei, the Tsar of Life, an...
Only five still guard the borders between the worlds. Only five hold back what waits on the other side. Once the Oversight, the secret society that polices the lines betwee...
The Gamehouse is an unusual institution. Many know it as the place where fortunes can be made and lost through games of Chess, Backgammon - every game under the sun. But a ...
The Bear and the Nightingale
In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes pres...
Nights at the Circus
Is Sophie Fevvers, toast of Europe's capitals, part swan... or all fake? Courted by the Prince of Wales and painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, she is an aerialiste extraordin...
In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers – the keepers of thi...
The War at Troy
The people who lived in those days were closer to gods than we are, and great deeds and marvels were commoner then, which is why the stories we have from them are nobler an...
The Golem and the Djinni
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, di...
Land of Hope and Glory
It is 1852. The Indian empire of Rajthana has ruled Europe for more than a hundred years. With their vast armies, steam-and-sorcery technology and mastery of the mysterious...
One Hundred Years of Vicissitude
"First up, a disclaimer. I suspect I am a dead man. I have meagre proof, no framed- up certification, nothing to toss in a court of law as evidence of a rapid departur...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist. But even the mistresses of sword and s...
Events are coming to a climax in the Banished Lands, as the war reaches new heights. King Nathair has taken control of the fortress at Drassil and three of the Seven Treasu...
For Kivrin Engle, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the four...
The Banished Lands are engulfed in war and chaos. The cunning Queen Rhin has conquered the west and High King Nathair has the cauldron, most powerful of the seven treasures...
The Creeping Shadow
Lucy has left Lockwood & Co. A freelance operative, she is hiring herself out to other agencies – agencies that might value her ever-improving skills. But now Loc...
The Burning Page
When it's your job to save the day - where do you start? Librarian spy Irene has standards to maintain, especially while on probation. And absconding from a mission via...