Succession by dhtreichler

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It’s about one hundred years in the future, and, after a Great War, Europe as we know it today has been transformed into a tightly controlled empire and renamed Eutopia.

This is an arresting and sweeping saga of one man’s thirst for power and influence at the expense of his own family and anything that even smells like democratic dissent. The story is replete with chancellery intrigue, tantalizing romantic liaisons, and, most importantly, a close examination of familial bonds that bind and often chafe.

Jurgen is the youngest son of the current Chancellor of the Empire. His older brother, Horst, is the heir apparent, but goes about his duties at the upper reaches of the regime in a pedantic, unimaginative manner that constantly irks his younger sibling.

This is the story of how Jurgen, fueled by ambition and an almost Messianic fervor, seeks to wrest the reins of leadership and lead the country to world domination. And, as the narrative unfolds, you’ll develop strong feelings either for or against Jurgen. He plays the part of the bored playboy second son with deceptive ease, while maneuvering through back channels to rise to a position of influence.

He perceives his father, who is curiously called only Karl Peter (as opposed to, say, Grand Emperor), as being weak and ineffectual in his reaction to a recent Soviet incursion and the subsequent capture of a small contingent of Eutopian soldiers. Jurgen stews and simmers over this outrageous act, and vows to right things if given the chance.

This he does, in spectacular fashion, leading a commando raid to rescue the soldiers in the dead of night across the border and into Russian territory. The mission is a success and Jurgen is widely hailed as a hero. Public fervor rises for significant changes in foreign policy, but Karl Peter is reluctant to take further action, leading Jurgen to scheme all the more assiduously.

Meanwhile, Horst is stricken with a mysterious illness and sidelined to a hospital bed. However, despite his best efforts, Jurgen can’t seize the opportunity to rise higher and is, instead, shunted off to the Middle East, where he performs summary executions of prominent clerics — the leaders who are fomenting a holy war against all infidels.

Sound familiar? It’s an interesting — if drastic — solution to the problem, as Muslim insurgents see their spiritual leaders killed one by one in retaliation for terrorist acts. As a result, suicide bombing virtually ceases and Jurgen is once again praised far and wide.

Will this kind of radical non-diplomacy shake things up at the highest levels of Utopian government? Will Jurgen make his father take notice finally of the direction in which the empire needs to move in order to survive another hundred years? And, can Jurgen finally resolve a long-simmering attraction to an independent, yet alluring, cabaret singer named Jeanne Murphy?

The story races to a thoroughly surprising ending that you won’t see coming, and the resulting culmination of interwoven threads will leave you breathless.

Five stars to Succession. This is a must-read for all those who enjoy stories of palace intrigue and world domination scenarios. A completely absorbing read that will have you wanting more from this talented author.

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