Sara A. Mueller’s 2022 The Bone Orchard is a secondary world fantasy.
The emperor of Boren (henceforth Emperor) has a knack for innovation, or rather, plagiarism. In addition to conquering other nations and taking over their resources, he studies their agricultural, industrial, and political techniques. He adopts the ones that he believes will further secure his hold on power.
He is a disappointing father; his sons are for the most part cruel and deranged. Bad news for the Empire if the boys ever rule! But thanks to Rejuv, the Emperor’s life can be indefinitely extended. The troubled succession need never be an issue.
Unless, of course, someone poisons the Emperor’s Rejuv. Then the issue of who is to succeed him becomes a problem for all of Boren.