EMPIRE RISING by Rick Campbell

Empire Rising
Rick Campbell
St. Martin’s Press
Feb. 24, 2015

Empire Rising by Rick Campbell is a riveting military thriller. He uses his personal experience as a retired Navy Commander to write an authentic story regarding submarine warfare. This novel is written in such a way that those who want a gripping story will enjoy it as well as those who want to know about the latest weapon systems. There is a great balance between a good plot, well-developed characters, and a discussion of different weapons.

Campbell explained, “I made a conscious decision to balance the level of detail with the most crucial aspect of a thriller, the pace. Many times having to stop and explain a weapons system comes at the expense of the pacing. All the weapons are realistic, but I did give China some long-range missile capabilities. Because some of the material is classified some of the scenes in the book are tweaked regarding the weapon capabilities. However, I did try to keep everything in the realm of possibility.”

This second book in the series brings back the main character of national security advisor Christine O’Connor. She advises the US President not to sign the Mutual Access to Environmental Resources accord. Realizing that the US and the Pacific Rim nations will have the availability to dwindling oil reserves, she fears China will be cut off from present and future production, derailing its economic growth and prosperity. Christine’s fears become a reality when an all-out naval war with China begins after they invade both Taiwan and Japan.

There are many comparisons to World War II when Japan also went to war over natural resources and had the upper hand in the initial battles. Campbell takes the reader on a roller coaster ride as China attempts to neutralize America’s Pacific Fleet through cyber warfare, jamming satellites, and infecting weapon systems with malware. With intense submarine battles it feels as if you are there, playing the cat and mouse games as submarines engage with surface ships.

The author hopes to show in his books how the leaders of nation states are put in positions where they must either accept the consequences or take action. In the beginning of Empire Rising he does not make China pure evil, although, the same cannot be said by the end of the book.

As with the first book, Christine O’ Connor ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time. This recurring theme has her playing a leading role as the storyline progresses. What makes this interesting is that the author through Christine’s eyes, a civilian, can explain different military aspects from her perspective. She is seen as someone who is strong-willed, determined, tenacious, committed to the task, and at times vindictive.

Empire Rising is a warning of sorts, a ‘what could happen’ if China does gain the upper hand in cyber warfare. In the spirit of Dale Brown and Tom Clancy this novel is a spellbinding story that never runs out of action scenes. It also has characters that are intriguing and captivating.

Campbell gave a heads up about his next book, whose working title is Cold Betrayal. It involves a collision between the newest American fast attack submarine and one of Russia’s new ballistic missile submarines. As life support systems begin to fail, the United States and Russia rush to the aid of their crews. Both sides realize that whoever reaches the sunken ships first will be able to board the other country’s submarine, harvesting the latest weapon and tactical systems technology.

Elise Cooper

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