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Rising Empire

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The Empire is a common trope. When it decays, it is a Vestigial Empire. An empire during its formation, in its expansionist stage, is a Rising Empire. Typically it will be a Proud Warrior Race, a Proud Merchant Race or both that is feeling its oats and beginning several generations of conquest, exploration and colonization. Most likely, it will be on the midst of the "Expansion" phase of The Cycle of Empires. Likely it will have The Conqueror at its head, perhaps a Young Conqueror or a Galactic Conqueror.

Portrayals from a rising empire's viewpoint will typically emphasize pioneering, exploration and epic deeds. Portrayals from the viewpoint of its victims will, of course, emphasize ruthless tyranny over indigenous peoples. It is possible to proceed with both viewpoints in mind. A rising empire doesn't have to imply primarily military conquest, but will include a period of expansion by whatever means. Many a Hegemonic Empire is this and will become an empire classic later in its history.

In the theory of international relations, such states are considered prototypical revisionist states: that is, they wish to "revise" the existing order to their benefit.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Tales of Wedding Rings: The Gisaras Empire is stated to be a relatively young nation: compared to Maasa and the other ring nations, which have been around since the time before the Ring King, Gisaras has only existed for a few decades. In that time, it has swallowed up many lesser nations through conquest or diplomacy and has made itself into one of the mightiest nations in the world.

    Fan Works 
  • Earth's Alien History: After the end of the Reaper War, war hero Marshal Daena T'Drak exposes the corruption of the Matriarchs (not least of all being their hampering of her war effort to make themselves look better) and uses the public outcry as a mandate to seize power. Afterwards, she decides that the only way to reverse the cultural stagnation and political decline that the Asari Republics have been suffering for centuries is to reforge them into a more unified and progressive state. Once she's had herself crowned Empress, she carries out a series of reforms, which quickly work to make the newly established Asari Empire one of the more powerful single nations in the Alpha Quadrant.
  • A Thing of Vikings: The fic places Berk in the later years of the viking age. Despite Hiccup and Stoick being fairly peaceful, the machinations of other powers means Berk expands its borders, leading to this trope.

  • Belisarius Series:
    • The Malwa, although they have an army that would probably be more typical of a Vestigial Empire with it's resentful cadres of vassal troops and its hordes of reserves.
    • A closer example in the last two books in the series was Kungas and Irene's New Kushan Empire founded at the Khyber Pass.
  • Thais of Athens describes the coming into being of Alexander the Great's empire (short-lived as it was).
  • The Foundation is intended to become the framework for a Second Galactic Empire, and indeed most of the stories showcase their progress towards that state. It is especially prominent in the three later stories in the first book of the series, with The Mayors being about the Foundation's establishment of complete control over its neighbours, The Traders showing an example of the continued expansion of the Foundation's influence through the trade-religion-science policy and The Merchant Princes being about the shift to a more pure trade-based Hegemonic Empire after the trade-religion-science policy stops being effective.
    • One of the later "Seldon Crises" is about the location of the Foundation's capital after it has sufficiently expanded. A number of people feel that the location should be more centralized, while others believe that it should stay on Terminus at the outskirts of the galaxy where the Foundation began.
    • Of the related Empire series novels (released by Asimov around the time the Foundation stories was combined into a novel), The Currents of Space take place at a time when Trantor is the rising empire, at that point ruling roughly half the galaxy, and gradually expanding towards being a Galactic empire.
  • The Nilfgaard Empire in the Witcher series. It's been on the rise for a generation and shows little intention to halt.
  • The Elric Saga: In the books Melniboné is portrayed as a Vestigial Empire, whereas the prequel comic, Elric: Making of a Sorcerer, tells the story behind the rise and descent of the empire. The four issues mostly concentrate on Elric gathering new allies among the elementals and the peoples of the Old Kingdoms. At the same time Elric (or rather his ancestors whose role he gets to play on the dream quests) gets to meet Arioch, the patron demon of Melniboné, for the first time, as well as wield the cursed sword, Stormbringer.
  • The Traitor Baru Cormorant: the Imperial Republic of Falcrest, a Hegemonic Empire that is still in the process of conquering its neighbors (through trade and cultural means rather than open warfare) and consolidating its control over its colonies. Nonetheless, the cryptarchs who secretly rule it fear that Falcrest is reaching a critical point in which it will either defy The Cycle of Empires and go on to absorb the known world, or succumb, stagnate, and ultimately collapse like so many civilizations before it. The decisions they make now, they believe, will determine which course history takes, which wouldn’t be a problem if they weren’t split into two bitterly opposed factions both convinced the other will lead them straight to collapse if they get their way.
  • In Victoria, this describes several of the American successor states after the downfall of the old regime, as everyone scrambles to first secure their own borders and then take up the mantle of the United States as dominant power on the continent. Though most are weeded out before long in the ensuing struggles. Toward the end of the story, the only two real challengers remaining are the transhumanist Lady Land Azania and the reactionary Northern Confederation, with other, more minor powers appearing to align with either.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Referenced regarding "the Sunmaker", the legendary founder of Alethkar. The Alethi Proud Warrior Race revere him as a divinely mandated figure who defeated the corrupt Vorin Theocracy, unified the Alethi Highprinces, and brought about a golden age of westward expansion and conquest. After his death and the collapse of his empire, the formerly conquered peoples revile him as a genocidal Caligula, and Dalinar's diplomatic efforts are seriously impeded by the suspicion that he has any intention whatsoever of claiming the Sunmaker's legacy.
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen, we have a couple of examples:
    • The titular Malazan Empire itself first arose several decades before the novels open and quickly expanded to engulf its entire home continent, with significant holdings on several others. However, while there are still fronts where the Empire is expanding by the start of the first book, it's beginning to settle more into the stabilization phase as they go on.
    • The Pannion Domin is a young, rapidly-expanding theocracy on the continent of Genabackis whose goal seems to be nothing less than to conquer as much as possible as quickly as possible. Because the Domin is dominated by a horrific Religion of Evil headed by a mad God-Emperor, this ends up being deconstructed as pretty much every other major power on the continent - including the Malazans - are so spooked they end up putting their own enmity on hold to crush the Domin before it can grow too powerful; defeating it takes up most of the third book, Memories of Ice. It's also explicitly pointed out that the Domin could never amount to anything but this sort of empire, no matter how powerful it became; due to its brutality and a lack of anything resembling peacetime infrastructure most of its territory inevitably falls into ruin, forcing it to continually conquer new lands to sustain itself. In the end, unless the Domin radically changed its character, it had no choice but to keep expanding until it inevitably picked a fight it couldn't win, as eventually happened.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • Part of Londo's Fatal Flaw is his nostalgic attraction to this part of Centauri history, or at least the part when they were on top of the Cycle Of Empires. The Centauri have become a Vestigial Empire under the later Emperors, stopping the conquest of worlds, though they become a Resurgent Empire under Cartagia and later Londo with the 'aid' of the Shadows or Drahk.
    • Earth Alliance is in this, expanding on most of what had once been the rimward part of the Centauri Republic and having come out on top in a brief confrontation with the Centauri themselves, the Dilgar War and a number of lesser conflict with the neighbouring Deneth, Koulani and Ch'lonas, with the near-annihilation in the Earth-Minbari War only serving to bring to power the more warlike members of the political spectrum. Notably, Earth Alliance's meteoric rise was mostly peaceful or as part of defensive wars,note , with even Clark's expansionist government being unwilling to start wars without a good reason.
    • The Narn Regime aspire towards doing this: They have begun colonization of new worlds and built a war-fleet they hope can challenge their old captors the Centauri, while engaging in small-scale aggression and skirmishes alongside the Centauri and Non-Aligned borders. They quickly turn out to be a Paper Tiger once the Shadows get involved and the old Centauri emperor dies. The Shadows crush much of their fleet and the Centauri quickly roll over their small expansions, and bombard Narn itself into submission using mass driver attacks. By the end of the series, the Narn, having only managed to regain their independence for the second time, look to avoid this trope by trying to escape the cycle of violence.
  • The Alliance in Firefly is just finishing this stage.
  • The new Systems Commonwealth in Andromeda. However, it is already full of corruption and internal strife, so it's not clear if it's ever going to rise to anywhere close to the size of the old Commonwealth.
  • The first episode of Barbarians Rising follows Rome as it began to expand during the Republican period, told from the perspective of the peoples fighting to strangle it in the cradle. They fail.
  • Rise of Empires: Ottoman: The Ottoman Empire has already conquered a fair bit of the Balkans and Anatolia, and Mehmet is determined to defeat the Roman Empire so he can turn Constantinople into his new capital.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Battletech: Each main era tends to have at least one of these.
    • Classic 3025/Succession Wars: The Federated Commonwealth, a Lyran/Fedsun alliance, is about to unite two of the five Successor States to create a superpower that can unite the Inner Sphere for the first time in three centuries.
    • 3050/Clan Invasion: The Clans, a Proud Warrior Race hailing from hidden worlds beyond known human space, invade the Inner Sphere in an attempt to reform the Star League on their terms and forcibly bring the Successor States (including the aforementioned Federated Commonwealth) to heel.
    • 3062/FedCom Civil War: As the Clan Invasion grinds to a halt and the Federated Commonwealth tears itself apart in the wake of their united leader's death, a splinter faction of ComStar called the Word of Blake rise to power and conquer Terra, setting themselves up to become the next big power player of the Inner Sphere.
    • 3067/Jihad: The Word of Blake attempts to cleanse the Inner Sphere in a no-holds-barred eradication of all high-tech societies to become the sole holders of advanced technology. In the wake of their destruction, a new government called the Republic of the Spheres arise in the centre of the Inner Sphere, intended to create a new centre of galactic civilization.
  • Traveller. The Terran Confederation in the volume "Interstellar Wars". Also, the Third Imperium in its early stages.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Tau Empire, a relative newcomer to the galactic stage. The Tau were a stone-age species the first time an already ancient Imperium learned of their existence, but have over the centuries risen to developing spaceflight and funding a burgeoning space-based empire uniting several other species. They have rapidly expanded into the surrounding galaxy since they first showed up, colonizing several planets and taking several others from the Imperium, and their youth and expansionist vigor serves as a thematic counterpoint to the ancient, crumbling and overextended might of the Imperium.
    • The Imperium of Man was a Rising Empire in roughly the year 30,000, coming out of a pan-species Dark Age with the God-Emperor at the helm of an immense, well-maintained, and fairly egalitarian nation. Naturally, it didn't last. With the setting chanigng events that happened during the Gathering Storm, though, they might be coming back here.

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • While the Imperials of Cyrodiil have created three empires spanning most or all of Tamriel at different points in history, they technically subvert (or even outright avert) The Empire trope. Their empires are much closer to The Good Kingdom, or at least The Federation, generally being a benevolent Big Good while protecting Tamriel from greater threats. Still the terminology sticks. Of these empires, the First (Alessian) and Second (Reman) most closely fit as "rising" empires. Neither managed to take over Tamriel in full, but both built the foundation for the Third's (Septim) conquest of all of Tamriel, turning them into a truly Hegemonic Empire. Tiber Septim, founder of the Third Empire, was a rare example of a monarch whose rule covered the entire "rising" action of the Empire right into Hegemonic Empire status. (He ruled for 81 years in total, 38 after unifying Tamriel.)
    • The Aldmeri Dominion is in this stage as of Skyrim. Past incarnations of the Dominion were some of the greatest rivals to the various Cyrodiilic empires, but were crushed when Tiber Septim (founder of the Third Cyrodiilic Empire) used the Dwemer-crafted Numidium against them, decimating their armies and sacking their capital city in less than an hour of fighting. The Dominion lied dormant during the 500-year reign of the Septim dynasty, but reformed and rose up under the leadership of the extremist Thalmor following the Oblivion Crisis. They forcefully annexed the province of Valenwood and used Blatant Lies to convince Elsweyr to join as a Voluntary Vassal. They waged war on the now Vestigial Empire of Cyrodiil and, though they could not fully defeat the empire, were able to force them into extremely unfavorable terms in a treaty to end the war. Now the Dominion is using subterfuge and political maneuvering to further tear apart the empire in preparation for their inevitable next war.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • Caesar's Legion/Nova Roma clearly see itself as this. It's up to the player to determine whether or not this ambition becomes a reality.
    • The New California Republic, despite being The Federation in government type, has fit this trope for a while, but is in the middle of a severe depression. If they can't keep Hoover Dam, then its rise is over.
  • After taking numerous levels in badass in the 10 years since Fallout 3, the East Coast Brotherhood of Steel as of Fallout 4 are in this position. Under the leadership of Elder Maxson, they rule over the Capital Wasteland as neo-feudalistic overlords and are actively conquering most of the East Coast. The game's main conflict is with them coming to the Commonwealth due to their desire to both "protect" the natives and wipe out the Synths.
  • Humans in the Mass Effect series, to the worry of the great old powers of the galaxy. They prefer a peaceful expansion, primarily via colonizing uncharted worlds and pioneering new technologies, but they don't lack for military might. In the two wars they've fought since joining the galactic stage, they've managed military stalemates against older, much better-established powers, and then won diplomatic victories.
  • The Empire of the Rising Sun in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 is this, in contrast to the well-established superpowers (the Allies and the Soviets) who were already at each other's throats, all of them vying for control of the world. The Empire chose to make its move on world domination when the Soviets and Allies were busy at war with each other to try to catch them weakened, and Emperor Yoshiro believes the Empire has a destiny to rule the world and that they ought to claim it.
  • Multiple examples can be found in Crusader Kings 2 over its 400-year long history of historical starts. Charlemagne's Frankish kingdom in the 769 start is poised to follow his conquests and found the Holy Roman Empire, and the Mongol Empire's entrance to the world stage in the 1221 start. Both will usually succeed admirably with or without player intervention. With the ability to form empires of your own, you can also be the ruler of one of these, whether you form Great Britain hundreds of years early as Britannia, unite Scandanavia's various disparate Viking clans, or even reform the Roman Empire if you're particularly lucky.
  • This is every empire in the 4X genre, with some exceptions in games such as Stellaris having Vestigial Empires among them as NPCs. Every empire starts small, and eventually grows to prominence in one form or another. Depending on the game, this can be on a continental, planetary, or even galactic scale.
  • Final Fantasy VI: Gestahl's empire, usually called simply "the" Empire, is in an expansionist phase as of the beginning of the game. They've just finished conquering and consolidating power on the southern continent and are casting their eyes north. Over the course of the game they successfully conquer the city of South Figaro, raze Doma Castle, and carry out attacks on Narshe, Figaro Castle, and Thamasa. Then they're destroyed, along with most of the rest of the world, in Imperial General Kefka's magical coup against the Emperor, with most of their war materiel apparently integrated into Kefka's Tower which functions as the final dungeon of the game.

    Web Original 
  • Mahu: In "Crownless Eagle" we see the Commonwealth rise from a doomed kingdom to a republic and then the greatest superpower of its time.

    Real Life 
  • Any historical empire is going to be this in the time period preceding its peak of power — empires are not born overnight. Sometimes a country can go through cycles of Rising Empire to major player to Vestigial Empire before another resurgence - witness the relative might of China on the world stage since the beginning of its long history.
  • After the end of the Soviet Union, the idea of a "second superpower" that could rise up enough to challenge the hegemony of the United States has been a popular academic topic, sometimes spilling over into popular media. China is probably the most discussed potential superpower of the candidates; others include the European Union, India, Brazil, and The New Russia.
  • Back in The '80s Japan would have been on the above list stemming from its dramatic post-war economic rebound, so much so it got its own trope in popular media, especially in Cyberpunk works. The real estate bubble burst in 1991 and the subsequent three "Lost Decades" of relative economic stagnation have largely discredited both tropes for the country since then.