"Robert has taken his deep knowledge and love of the Byzantine Empire along with some very interesting characters to make for a captivating story. I enjoyed this book cover to cover. I can't wait for the movie."
I am an American author of historical fiction, most well known for my debut novel Empire in Apocalypse
I was born in Detroit but left with my parents after the riots of 1968 drove them to Minnesota. I grew up and spent my childhood days playing ice hockey, collecting stamps, and running cross-country. I was active in politics at a young age, and I recall playing the role of Jimmy Carter during a mock debate before the 1976 presidential election. My dad was the mayor of my town.
After graduating from high school, I went to a liberal arts school where I studied Greek and Roman history. I spent my junior year at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, where I studied philosophy and classical languages.
After graduating, I went to a major seminary where I began studies in Sacred Scripture and theology. After leaving the seminary, I took a job with the CIA as an intelligence officer and developed a fascination with political intrigue. I got married and recently celebrated my thirtieth wedding anniversary. I served in several overseas assignments, including one country that was once part of the Eastern Roman Empire. It was there that I gained a love for the region's hospitality and tradition of toasting.
I have traveled extensively throughout the countries that once constituted the Roman Empire and spent a great deal of time in Rome and Istanbul, where my three-part historical fiction series takes place.
Praise for Robert
"Not since Quo Vadis have I read such a gripping historical novel about life and times in the Roman Empire. Empire in Apocalypse belongs on the bookshelves of all devotees of this pivotal time in world history." - Christina Bongiovanni
"An unforgettable epic of courage, love, and betrayal told through the eyes of a young general making his mark in the waning days of the Roman empire. Bruton resurrects historical characters and events with a mastery not seen since Gladiator." - Jay Cline
"Robert Bruton's prose is economical yet substantive, and his story-telling is contoured and engaging. He brings Belisarius, Antonina, Justinian, Theodora, and others to life in the contexts of their times. Bruton fills in their emotions, aspirations, triumphs, and worries so they become multi-dimensional people rather than one- or two-dimensional historical figures. Bruton draws on research in ancient and modern sources in his narrative. This novel succeeds as historically-based fiction."
-DAVID J. ULBRICH, Ph.D., co-editor of The Routledge History of Global War and Society
"Robert has taken his deep knowledge and love of the Byzantine Empire along with some very interesting characters to make for a captivating story. I enjoyed this book cover to cover. I especially liked his take on Flavius Belisarius. I can't wait for the movie."
"This fascinating fictionalized account set at the decline of the Roman Empire provides insight into the lives of the great men and women who shaped their times. It also reminds us that we - and our own time - are not so far removed from theirs as we might imagine."
-EVE MARIE BARNER GLEASON
"In this extraordinary work of historical fiction, Robert Bruton seamlessly fuses warfare, church politics, romance, and espionage. Thus, the story is certain to appeal to a wide genre of readers. Mr. Bruton's use of twists and suspense in turn -shifts the characters from victim to villain and vice versa. This book took my enjoyment of reading to a new level." -
"Carefully researched and beautifully crafted, this is the stirring tale of battles won against overwhelming odds, a brilliant general's undying commitment to duty, honor, and the Roman Empire, imperial court intrigues, unrequited love, the machinations of two former courtesans who maneuvered their way into the top echelons of the Empire, and the impact of a devastating climate catastrophe that derailed the chances of restoring the empire to its former glory. Amazingly, it is all based on actual events. This is a great read for both serious consumers of histories and biographies and for those who enjoy historical fiction." - Ed Ricart
For BRUTON's Debut Novel
So, what if your book
"EMPIRE IN APOCALPYSE" about?
My book tells the fascinating story of General Flavius Belisarius, one of the great military strategists of the Roman world, and the challenges he faced in trying to reunite the lost Western Empire to the East. Those challenges include enemies with larger armies, climate change, bubonic plague, and a wife whom he adores but whose wandering eye becomes a distraction and source of shame.
What inspired you to write about this particular character and time in history?
Two things: first, the story of Belisarius and Antonina is one of the great love stories of the Roman era, and today, when adultery is often the justification for an immediate divorce, Belisarius’s unconditional love for his wife offers an inspirational challenge. Second, when I finished my Master’s thesis on the role of climate change in the decline of the Roman Empire, I wanted to find a way to show this story to people who are concerned about this issue in our times but wouldn’t make it through the first chapter of a history book. This novel tells the personal story of the impact from a man whose life ambitions were ruined by cold summers and the world’s first pandemic.
What was the most difficult part to write in this book?
The most difficult part for me was turning my skill in writing intelligence reports that focuses mostly on objective realities into a skill where you get into the passions of your characters and tell the story from their subjective point of view. Intelligence tries to see things as they are; novels see things through the lenses of people with blind spots and passions that throw an omniscient point of view out the window.
Who is your favorite character?
What is the most fascinating tidbit that you learned about the Byzantium way of life, while you were researching your novel?
“The more societies change, the more they stay the same.” I was struck by the fact that while 1500 years of progress separates us from the Romans, the modern world continues to struggle with the very same problems: imperial ambitions of revanchist powers, riots over perceived injustice and inequality, an inability to cope with the challenges of climate change, a pandemic that threatens to destroy our way of life, and an apocalyptic mindset that pervades every new trial.
What’s next for you? Are there other books in the series?
Belisarius is George Washington and Jesus, all wrapped into one very complex character. He’s a military genius who, in two campaigns, reconquered Roman lands that had been lost for a century, but also a compassionate person who would do anything for his troops. He is an anti-Maximus (from Gladiator) who, when persecuted by a petty and jealous emperor, does not set out a course for revenge but accepts his fate with grace and inspiring humility.
I am working on another climate change thriller, but this one is told from the perspective of a Mayan girl in the sixth century whose happy life has been shattered by a volcanic explosion that covers her village in thick ash, destroys their crops, and triggers a megadrought and fires. The leaders decide that the only way to appease the angry weather gods is to use a “ritual technology” that involves human sacrifice. The parents of this young girl must protect her from the horror of what is to come by turning the process into a game.