{4.5/5} “Agrippina had seen Gaul; she knew what the future would hold. From this beginning the roads would spread across the country like ivy over a wall, bifurcating and firing off their straight-line segments, until every corner of the land was reached. Messages would flash along the roads fast as thought, and the next time the soldiers needed to march this way they would be able to make much faster progress than today, through the mud and dirt. And in the future the young fighters of Britain, who today were preparing raids against the advancing Romans, would be marched away along these roads to go fight in Germany and Thrace and Asia, far from the misty cool of their homeland. Thus the empire absorbed its enemies and used them for its own further expansion — ”

The Roman Empire invades Britain — when the emperor arrives a couple of locals decide they have the perfect way to kill him. Decades later Emperor Hadrian builds a wall all the way across the northern part of Britain — 70 miles. One family has in its possession a prophecy that seems to indicate that Britain will one day throw off the yoke of Rome. What if the prophecy isn’t meaningless silliness — what if it’s a message from the future?

Emperor by Stephen Baxter was released in 2006. It’s the first book in the Time’s Tapestry series. It’s mostly historical fiction — the only science fictional aspect is the prophecy.

It’s about the interaction between Britain and the Roman Empire.

As in Evolution each section jumps forward in time — but in this case the sections are decades apart instead of millions of years.

In each section some members of a certain family show up — the family that holds the prophecy.

When Baxter isn’t over my head with his science, I find his writing smooth and his stories gripping. I found Manifold: Time in the former category, and Emperor in the latter. Then there’s Evolution, which is one of my favourite science fiction novels.

There are three sequels to Emperor, and I’m planning on reading them.

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