cover image Empire of Lies

Empire of Lies

Raymond Khoury. Forge, $27.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-250-21096-8

Alternate histories don’t get much better than this thought-provoking mind bender from Khoury (The Last Templar). In 1683, suicide bombers, armed with dynamite, kill themselves and the leaders of the army of Christendom before they can march on Vienna and defeat the Ottoman forces besieging the city. The anachronistic explosives are the result of an intricate scheme launched by Iraqi ISIS leader Ayman Rasheed in the present after he learns the secret of time travel from a museum director he interrogated. Eager to recreate a caliphate that would awe the world, Ayman researches key turning points in Islamic history before determining that ensuring the capture of Vienna would lead to the continued existence and dominance of the Ottoman Empire in the 21st century. By 2017, however, the regime has become repressive and faces a resistance movement. The bulk of the action occurs in Paris, where Kamal Arslan Agha, of the counterterrorism directorate of the sultan’s secret police, investigates a murder connected to Ayman. Meanwhile, Ayman’s anesthesiologist brother, Ramazan, ends up treating an ill Ayman and begins to uncover his patient’s secrets, which places him and his wife, an ally of the resistance, in peril. Superior and plausible worldbuilding matches an ingeniously imaginative conceit. This ranks as a classic of the genre. [em]Agent: Mitch Hoffman, Aaron M. Priest Literary. (Oct.) [/em]