About the Book

Born of blood and a witch’s curse, then driven by his power-hungry wife, an outsider rises through the military ranks, seizes the Empire, and brings it crashing down in a bloody civil war as he pursues a mad quest to destroy the gods of Rome.

Roman historian Herodian cites that soothsayers proclaimed Maximinus Thrax – a barbarian of low birth, a wrestler, born of wild spirits in contempt of Roman religion – would grow so lustful of power and blood that he would bring the Roman Empire to its knees. So he did, as the first of thirty emperors over sixty years spanning the “Military Crisis” that led to the collapse of Rome and its religion. Herein we tell the true story of Maximin’s birth, rise to power, chaotic three-year rule, and violent death, just as Queen Elizabeth I retold the same tale. Shakespeare used figures from her recent history as a warning to the inheritors of her empire: we must learn these lessons of history, or we will repeat its tragedies.

When she hears of the Witches’ prophecy, ambitious wife Caecilia Paulina prods and goads reluctant Maximin to murder his friend, the boy-king Alexander Severus. As the last of the Severan Dynasty, Alexander struggled to hold Rome together against incursions by Gauls and Germans to the north and Persians to the east. Maximin and Paulina frame the Praetorian Guard for Alexander’s death. Loyal soldiers under Maximin’s command declare him Emperor. The Senate acquiesce for fear of civil war. Maximin sets out to destroy the Roman state religion that he despises, and melts down their idols to pay his armies. Maximin fears nothing, since the Witches tell him he is invulnerable. Are they real, or hallucinations of a madman? As Rome decays into fear and unrest under Maximin’s ruthless fist, the Senate secretly anoint Severan cousins the Gordians as Emperor and Caesar. Only the grand-nephew Gordian III escapes, who enlists fugitive general Pupienus Maximus in rebellion. Maximus joins upon learning that Maximin brutally murdered his wife and family. Maximin’s army crumbles as he descends into insanity. Maximin retreats to a fortress where General Maximus pursues him to his bloody doom. His death solves nothing for the financially and morally bankrupt Empire, which descends into anarchy.

EMPIRE OF BLOOD is a true story of the start of the Roman military crisis of the third century. It is also a retelling of Shakespeare’s MacBeth, which seems to be based on this historical figure.


A brute, a thug, a head taller than the rest. Raised up from Thracian dirt by Alexander’s father, he takes the losses of his men personally in their battle against the German Alemanni tribe. When Alexander’s domineering mother sends him to bribe the Alemanni for peace, he tells his wife about the prophecy of the witches. She goads him into murdering Alexander and his mother. Once Maximin tastes power, he cannot get enough. Rome bleeds in Maximin’s pogrom of purges as he destroys their gods, melting down the idols to pay his army. After seeking the witches’ dire omen, Maximin slaughters the nobility and marches south to burn down Rome and all the Empire.

Maximinus Thrax on Wikipedia

Lady Caecilia Paulina

Maximin’s ambitious lover, possessed by dark pagan spirits of Thrace. She goads Maximin to seize power, and orchestrates his plot to murder the Emperor. After she gets what she wants for him, she becomes an object of Maximin’s escalating hatred and abuse. Paulina loses her mind trying to balance his, until she commits suicide as Maximin faces certain doom.

Caecilia Paulina on Wikipedia

Pupienus Maximus

An army general, faithful to the idea of Rome and the Empire, but blind to the evil of the tyrant who seizes power. Maximin sends Maximus to the frontier, away from his unfortunate wife QUINTIA CRISPILLA and their son, whom Maximin cruelly murders. This sad news drives Maximus to confront and defeat Maximin in the final battle outside Rome.

Pupienus Maximus on Wikipedia

The Gordian Clan

Elder Gordian I rode with Maximin in the Syrian war. Together they witnessed the witches proclaim that they would both be emperors of Rome, followed by Gordian’s line. Gordian I must play both sides, loyalist and traitor, when the Senate secretly declares them inheritors of the Empire. His son Gordian II flees when framed for Alexander’s murder, and is soon killed by Maximin. The nephew boy Gordian III escapes when Maximin’s henchmen murder the elder. As he grows to manhood, Gordian III leads the southern and eastern armies into civil war against the tyrant.

The Gordians on Wikipedia

The Three Witches

These foul hags, spirits of the air and wind, proclaim that Maximin will be emperor, invulnerable to anyone born of a woman. Their twisted prophecy – perhaps just an hallucination of a diseased mind – drives Maximin to murder his friend and emperor, then to brutally abuse and kill anyone who stands in his way.

The Three Witches on Wikipedia