Oath of Empire- anyone read it?

I’m not a big fan of fantasy literature (with the exception of Tolkien, one of the greatest authors of all time in my opinion), but a couple years ago I started reading the Oath of Empire series by Thomas Harlan, only recently picking it up again. I finished the last book in the series last night. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the series, Oath of Empire is a fantasy and alternate history which takes place in the mid-600s AD. In the books, the Roman Empire is still standing (in two halves- the Eastern and Western Empires) and fighting a war against Persia. The characters are a mix of historical and imaginative. Harlan apparently did a large amount of research into for his series, especially in regards to military and the theology of ancient religions like Zoroastrianism and Greco-Roman paganism.

While Oath of Empire isn’t among my favorite novels, the first three books were a pleasure to read. Thomas Harlan has the talent of being able to turn a sentence into a 10-page chapter, so the level of detail and the complexity of the plot are excellent, while still being fast-paced. The fourth, and last, book was quite disappointing. The story-line almost completely changed, as did a good number of the characters. There were many loose ends left hanging at the end, and I don’t even think there was a proper resolution. Had the book not been marketed as the last in the series, I would have thought that there should be at least one more coming.

Has anyone else read this series and, if so, what are your thoughts on it?

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