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The Fifth Empire of Man (Best Laid Plans Book 2) Kindle Edition
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The premise of the sequel is Drake Morass has managed to successfully get the beginnings of his kingdom together. Unfortunately, the cracks are starting to show already as he got them together on promises he could never hope to keep. Drake intends to force the various kingdoms of the world to acknowledge his new realm but first they need allies and to also defeat the mammoth navy being assembled to destroy the fledgling nation.
The biggest threat to Drake's new kingdom may be closer to home, though, as the book makes no secret of the fact both of his lieutenants are better qualified to be king than him. Keelin Stillwater the world's only actual gentleman pirate knows politics, diplomacy, and possesses a great sense of leadership as well as nobless obligation. Elaina Black is a superior pirate all round and commands the genuine respect as well as loyalty of those around her. Both of them have enemies which Drake might well be willing to throw under the bus to achieve his dream with.
Despite my focusing on the politics of the book in said description, this is actually a multigenre novel with romance and an Indiana Jones/Pirates of the Caribbean-esque section where they explore strange ruins that wouldn't be out of place in one of Robert E. Howard's works. Rob J. Hayes manages to make it all fit and really creates a wonderful epic fantasy that feels simultaneously grounded as well as grandiose.
I think it says how much I love this book that in a story based around pirates, undead, politics, and murder, I actually really enjoyed the love triangle between Keelin, Aime, and Elaina most. It's a realistic romance with the fact Keelin wants to be with the steady and dependable Aime but he's actually a terrible match for her. He's a lot darker person than he gives himself credit for and would fit better with Elaina but has insulted her by trying to leave her for someone he finds "respectable." That's something the pirate princess won't forget, particularly when Drake wants her to be his pirate queen.
The action in the book is great with people dying in various horrible but exciting ways. There's also the wonderful "big huge naval battle" that easily blows away the ones in the most recent pirate movies. Black Sails the television show had several such battles where good, bad, and indifferent characters die all around the heroes but this one ups them. No one comes out unscathed at the end and some of the deaths surprised me.
This is an incredible book and fantasy fans should check it out. From the beginning to the end, this is a series which entertains as well as impresses. Rob J. Hayes should mentioned with Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, and even George Martin or Rothfuss.
Yeah that's all confusing I'm sure, fighting urge to arrogantly curse the world and run away to the sea, but please at least take away what's written in the heading.. that these books by this author, and his other stuff, rank among the best IMO.
recently by second books in series that started
out very well. This is a case in point. I was
quite happy with book one of this series, _Where
Loyalties Lie_ which was sort of a cross between
"Pirates of the Caribbean" and Flintlock-Punk, but
this follow-up squandered the good will I felt
Book 1 set up a confrontation between the Pirate
Isles on the one hand and land powers of Sarth &
The Five Kingdoms on the other. In this book,
master manipulator Drake Morass must establish his
new island Kingdom while at the same time fighting
off those land powers and beating back the savage
non-human race that held him prisoner for years.
Meanwhile, ally Keelin Stillwater must make good
on his long delayed promises of wealth and plunder
to his crew on a trip to a dangerous haunted city
and Elaina Black must utilize her nonexistent
diplomatic skills to acquire ships and crews for
the Isles in the upcoming battles..
OK HERE BE SPOILERS
YOU WERE WARNED
First, we knew Drake was an SOB. Here we learn
it's worse than we thought and probably
irredeemable. But instead of facing the issue one
way or another, he is almost casually offed by his
lover on the orders of the "Oracle" who set the
whole thing in motion. Scratch all my investment
in that, fascinating, frustrating character! If
the stars weren't aligned for Morass to be King,
he should have been given some other role to play.
Second, Keelin's trip to the haunted city is pointless
as far as the overall plot goes. (The same goes for
his inconclusive confrontation with his brother and
his meeting with the Oracle). It's as if the author
couldn't think of anything *relevant* for him to do but
felt compelled to continue his story anyway. The apparent
ending for Keeble Salt, an interesting seconday character,
is less than compelling as well. On top of that we find
out Keelin has organized his whole life around a pointless
Finally, Tanner Black gets away with what he did
to Elaina in book one and is now an elder
This book just left a bad taste in my mouth.