Ethan Gage and his swashbuckling family are back in May with a thriller that entangles them in the past and allures them with the future. “The Three Emperors” is the series’ seventh adventure.
This story completes the quest for a legendary medieval automaton, the Brazen Head, which began in last year’s “The Barbed Crown.” Ethan finds that the path to reunite with his family leads through the battlefield of Austerlitz, Napoleon’s greatest victory.
This is not the first time the Ethan Gage adventures have overlapped. “Napoleon’s Pyramids” set in motion action wrapped up in “The Rosetta Key,” and “The Dakota Cipher” carried over into “The Barbary Pirates.” “The Emerald Storm” set up Ethan’s initial mission in “The Barbed Crown,” which in turn leads to “The Three Emperors.”
Each can be read separately and out of order, since I take pains to explain the characters and what’s going on. But you should obviously read them all!
The Ethan Gage adventures have been told through Ethan’s first-person voice. This is the first book to give some chapters to his wife Astiza, who is imprisoned in Bohemia, and his young son Harry.
I’ve always had a crush on Astiza, and now that I hear her voice, I like her even more. And what a formidable little boy they have! Must be the DNA.
“The Three Emperors” is also notable in being the last book in the series, at least for the moment. HarperCollins has decided not to continue Ethan Gage’s exploits after this newest book
This was a depressing decision for me. I’ve already done substantial research on an eighth novel, and had very loosely mapped out a total of fifteen books, taking my hero to Napoleon’s ultimate defeat at Waterloo! Ethan’s retirement was unexpected and disappointing.
I’ve learned never to say never in publishing, however, so I’m hoping Harpers may someday change their mind – or that another publisher might step in.
In today’s world, I might also decide to continue the characters in a self-publishing venture.
In the meantime, my current project is to complete a long-delayed young adult novel, a time-travel eco-fable, set in prehistoric Africa. It’s a fun change of pace.
All that lies ahead. What to anticipate in “The Three Emperors”?
Readers of “The Barbed Crown” will recall that Ethan was forced to flee in the opposite direction from his family after Napoleon’s coronation as emperor, and that he later received word that Astiza and Harry were imprisoned in Bohemia.
He is determined to reunite with them by making an end-run around Napoleon’s empire, sailing to Venice to reestablish his finances at a casino. Then he will hunt for Astiza and Harry in Prague.
This being Ethan Gage, his best-laid plans soon go awry, his resourcefulness and courage is called to the fore, and his wife begins to concoct her own plans for reunification and escape. Harry plays a critical role.
Ethan finds himself an unwilling participant at Austerlitz, including duty as a line infantryman. (Some guy named Tolstoy tackled this battle as well.) Our hero becomes allied with a Jewish family. Astiza takes the reader into the world of alchemy, the predecessor to modern chemistry.
It’s all there: castles, towers, mines, a ghetto, caves, rivers, battles, escapes, and a final showdown with characters from “The Barbed Crown.” The paperback publication of that one will occur about the same time “The Three Emperors” is released in hardback and as an e-book.
At the heart of the tale is an ancient machine able to foretell the future. Which raises the question: If we could know what is to come, would we want to?