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Byzantium

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  3,129 ratings  ·  220 reviews
Although born to rule, Aidan lives as a scribe in a remote Irish Monastery on the far, wild edge of Christendom. Secure in work, contemplation, and dreams of the wider world, a miracle bursts into Aidan's quiet life. He is chosen to accompany a small band of monks on a quest to the farthest eastern reaches of the known world, to the fabled city of Byzantium, where they are ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 870 pages
Published June 14th 1997 by Harper Voyager (first published 1996)
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Best Historical Fiction
291st out of 4,863 books — 18,946 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Terri
I came within a whisker of giving this 5 stars. I loved the journey for so much of the book that when it started to get boring for me, 200 pages from the end, I was bitterly disappointed. I wanted this to be my first 5 star historical fiction of the year! Still, it is a strong 4 star book and while the last 200 pages held some boredom for me, it was not all that way, only some of it.

All that aside, onto the book itself.

Man, I really got off on this book for 600 pages. As all those who know me we
...more
John
There are two kinds of epic novels: the kind (such as Stephen King's The Stand) where the characters start to feel like close, personal friends, and where you are constantly being blown away by the author's imaginative scope; and the kind (such as Gai-Jin by James Clavell) that seem to drag on endlessly month after month, as you stare at the bookshelf and wonder how much time you will have wasted if you give up and just start something different. The first few chapters of Byzantium give the impr ...more
Treva
Wow! Where to start!

Given the number of reviews, and the fact that others have already outlined the plot, allow me to tell you what you want to know. This book IS epic in scope. The adventure is constant, and the chapters all end with a cliff-hanger that you keeps you turning the pages late into the night. The best part about this book is that it is actually plausible, yet, amazing in plot scope. The language nuances used by the author to create tone are just ingenious.

I believe that people en
...more
Kris43
This is story of Aidan, the Irish monk, descendant of a royal house. When he starts he is little more than a boy, still very much naive and trusting. Totally unprepared for the world. His family send him off as a little boy to a convent because it was seen as a good omen for his line to have a holy man as king's adviser. Somewhere along the line, it all got wrong, and his family was killed. That left him as a just another monk, a scribe. Apart from that, he has one unique quality, he's a seer an ...more
Loren
This story is about an irish monk, Aidan, who is chosen to embark on a journey to bring the Book of Kells to the Emporer of Byzantium (Constantinople). It has a pretty classic storyline in terms of the personal growth and trials that the main character goes through to fulfill his quest. If you enjoy historical fiction you won't be disappointed by this book. It's got plenty of action, conspiracy, and intrigue to make it a page-turner and it's enjoyably rich in culture. Be aware though (or be grat ...more
Dawn
I have had to spend some time deciding how to describe why I didn't like this book other than just writing that I found it boring.
It is not the kind of book that you would imagine as boring, once you get though the first 20 chapters, it never stops moving you through people and places. From sea wolves to emperors, forest to desert and country to city, there is always another place to be and more people to meet.
Alot of the story seemed implausible and did there really have to be so much praying?
W
...more
Diane
This novel tells the story of Aidan, a tenth-century Irish monk who takes part in an expedition to bring the Book of Kells to the emperor in Byzantium. Before his small group of traveling companions reach the coast of France, however, they are attacked by Vikings and Aidan is carried off alone. The remainder of the book chronicles his adventures. Aidan is by turns a slave, interpreter to a king, ambassador of the emperor, suitor to an Arab lady, and again a slave. His journey brings him to dista ...more
Andy
cant really give it a mark as i could go no further than 30pg's but there tells a tale!

Too much of the White Christ for this pagan & with the way it was going, no way could I endure for another 600+ pg's, delivery of the book of Kells was clue enough in the summary so should have swerved, Never mind.
Mira, a escriba
Ainda estou tão espantada e maravilhada que nem sei bem o que irei escrever.
No início, tive receio que o facto de se abordar tantas civilizações me fizesse confundir e perder o sentido da história. Porém, ao longo dos capítulos conhecer novos costumes e a cultura geral do século IX transformou-se numa fonte deliciosamente enriquecedora (nada aborrecida ou confusa)!

Primeiramente, a trama desenrola-se num mosteiro em Cenannus de Ríg, na Irlanda. Depois de vivenciar todo o seu quotidiano - desde a
...more
Karol
I don't believe there is any rating I could give this book other than a 5 out of 5 stars. It has been a long while since I've read an epic. This one I loved, as it took me from Ireland of the 10th century, to "Skania", and then to Byzantium/Constantinople. In this novel or gargantuan proportions, the author wrote about 4 different cultures: Irish catholic monks, vikings, Arabs, and the Roman catholic empire.

It was a book largely about one man's struggle against his God: his battle, and loss of f
...more
Malinda
My fav book of all time. I love the adventure, and the historical fact mixed with his fictional story. Plus, the story keeps changing, everywhere he travels is so different that it is like a new story. You hardly notice the length of the book. I was sad that the story had to end when it did. I learned a valuable lesson from the line God speaks to the main character, "What did you expect?" That was so powerful. This is my one MUST READ! Cory might like it too.
Heather
Loved this story! It's not really a page turner, but I was engaged in Aiden's plight and epic journey. By the end I was in tears at the EPIC, full circle that the monks had encountered. So much about this book was wonderful and unlike anything I had read before. I found myself googling ancient maps to get a feel for the geography.
Robert Delikat
Great narrations have the potential to make a mediocre book great. Less than stellar performances can detract from a book's greatness to the point that an audiobook becomes a totally ruined experience. Some stories are so great, however, that a less than comparable narration cannot detract so much as to make the listening a totally rewarding experience. This, I believe, is the case with the Audible selection Byzantium narrated by Stuart Langton.

As others have commented, the book does start off a
...more
Jacob Aitken
Honestly, I didn't like the story but I chanced that when I began reading. I have been following Lawhead for a while and his books are either perfect or complete wash-out.

The plot in this story flowed reasonably well. From now on, however, authors need to realize that "young celtic kid abducted by vikings" is no longer an acceptable plot device. But Aidan's stay in Denmark was interesting.

While the hero is Christian, and in some ironic and bitter way, spreads his faith to his Viking captors, th
...more
Shannon Wilson
Aug 16, 2012 Shannon Wilson rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Shannon by: family
Whenever I recommend this book I can't help but really mean it from a literary standpoint, and a spiritual standpoint. Aidan takes quite a journey through many places. Along the way he encounters a lot of challenges that change him fundamentally. I like how real Lawhead makes this journey for him. He is taken to the edge and then beyond to discover who he is. So often in our own lives we have a crisis of identity and Lawhead shows this in detail. My favorite part is at the end when Aidan realize ...more
Linda
A very good read! This book has a little of everything in it. Aidan, an Irish monk, is on a pilgrimage to Byzantium, but a shipwreck and marauding Vikings change Aidan's destiny. Aidan's journey takes the reader far beyond Byzantium into unbelievable situations and circumstances.

The core of the book for me was Aidan's loss of faith in God and the eventual renewal of that faith. Aidan lost his faith in a foreign country in the midst of unspeakable cruelty. Without God, Aidan was utterly alone an
...more
Bernie Charbonneau
I was torn between 3 or 4 stars. Why, at times this novel was really intriguing and at a good pace which kept me turning the pages to see what would develop next. Then there where parts in this novel that where interesting but found a bit drab. Overall though, I did enjoy this novel which warrants the 4 stars. Not my regular focus in time, 900 CE, I did find the setting quite fascinating which led me to the computer on more than one occasion to discover more about this period. It was a large vol ...more
Christopher
A very enjoyable historical fiction set in the Dark Ages when Constantinople was still considered a Religious center on par with Rome, when Danes/Vikings marauded the northern coasts of Europe and when monks in monasteries in Ireland and Britain painstakingly and carefully carried out the work of creating new copies of the Holy scriptures. In this tale by Lawhead you will experience the known world of the Dark Ages from the Emerald Isle to the Saracen lords of the Middle East. You get a good ove ...more
Robert
A friend recommend this book to me a couple of years ago. I'm glad that i took his advice and read it. It quickly became my favorite book. I passed it along to others and they as well enjoyed it. If you life the movie Gladiator. Then you would like this book. Its similar in the sense of the main characters having to go through various life changes and losing things dear to them. It also based in a similar era. I will warn you that its a little slow to get going but once it does. It will have you ...more
Jessica
It was a slow and painful start....mainly because of the mass description of life on a monastery and the self depriciating actions the monks took on themselves. Having made it through the first 50 pages and the adventure began - I was enthralled. The building of friendships and understanding between cultures was great. I sometimes skipped (hush) the "God has abandoned me" talk that Aiden endured because I just don't struggle with that issue. The book was moving and championed friendship and trus ...more
Philip
It's been a while since I read this one, but I ranked it (along with The Confessions of Nat Turner) as my favorite book for a LONG time.

It's about an Irish monk who has to travel to Byzantium (Istanbul) to take a manuscript the Emperor of Christendom. I thought it was a great historical-fic read.

I received it as a gift right before I took a long trip as well - quite fitting.
Dan Tuton
Stephen Lawhead's historical Irish monk-swashbuckler is a breath of fresh air. Being one who especially enjoys sensory stimuli in stories, I found Byzantium to be a feast. I could smell the aroma of exotic spices and perfumes (along with less palatable olfactory stimuli in the harbor of Constantinople), and hear church bells--from the simple call to Matins in Kells to the tolling of the massive bells of Hagia Sophia. It is an epic story of another time, and is brought vividly to life by Lawhead. ...more
Angspendlove
If you've been watching Vikings on the History Channel you might at first think that the show is based on this book. That's what hooked me. But this is the Monks story and it is really, really good but also really long. If I had been reading (instead of listening to the audio book) I might have gotten bogged down. Toward the end, I hung on because **spoilers** how did he intended to return to live his "regular" life without his belief in God? and I wanted to know if he ever regained his faith. T ...more
Monica Davis
Through much of this read I thought I would end with a 3.5 star review. But the story grew on me and there were enough 'gems' in the writing that I decided it is well worth 4 stars. It is a bit long and drawn out in places, but for the most part it came together quite well by the end of the book.
Tina Bretsch bing
This is my favorite book ever hands down! I have just read this book a second time. There is adventure, historical religion, a smidge of romance, mystery, history, and so much more. I am not doing this book justice but if you saw my copy of the book, you would know it was well loved. I picked it up at a library "leave one/take one" book swap. I chose it because it was already well loved and I figured something that looked that worn must be good. It was the first book I ever read by Stephen Lawhe ...more
Geoffrey
To a degree, writing a review about this book will only show that I’m somewhat biased in my opinion of it. This was my 4th time reading it since it came out 17 years ago. Once every 4-ish years isn’t too obsessive. But, I adore this book. It’s massive in scope and it could have been a tragic failure of overreach but instead is just a beautiful accounting of life in 10th Century Europe and the Middle East.

The book opens with an almost magic relationship between Aidan, a Célé Dé monk and priest, t
...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
Oct 26, 2012 Deborah Ideiosepius rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who read in the tenth century, Viking, Byzantium readers
Shelves: historic-fiction
I liked it. A strong story (or should I say saga?) very rich in historical detail with a story that sucks you in from the get go. The monks of Ireland are going on pilgrimage to Byzantium, who will go? Or hero/narrator is selected of course and we plummet into a complex story.

I was very impressed with the historic detail except for the ground chillies that Aiden sees in the markets of Constantinople; Chillies came from Mexico much later than the 900’s CE. Also, if the ‘sweet black drink’ Aiden i
...more
Cindy
This was an exceptionally good book about the trials and tribulations of a Celtic priest, Aidan, and his pilgrimage to Constantinople to deliver a holy book made by the abbeys of Ireland. Leaving with a total of 13 on pilgrimage, the groups of priests are set upon by Danish Sea Wolves looking for plunder. Aidan is the only captive taken, and soon becomes a slave to the Sea Wolf who he had earlier saved from drowning. Soon Aidan is sold to the Danish king, Jarl Harrald, and becomes a translator t ...more
Ruth
c1996. FWFTB: journey, scribe, Norsemen, corrupt, Saracen. Another huge book (in volume). My journey through the book was rather spasmodic in that some passages/chapters seemed to flow and it was easy to get caught up in the particular event whilst others seemed to drag. There are some very gory scenes and some religious musings as well. Sadly, being a shallow person, I really did not like the cover art on my particular edition at all. Credited to Mick Posen who studied at Brighton Art college i ...more
Jeffrey Rasley
It's a great story and a wonderful tribute to Christian faith. Lawhead well represents the existential crisis of a deeply faithful and thoughtful person confronted with God's apparent lack of regard for humans, especially God's own worshipers. This is accomplished while telling a gripping story of seafaring, battles, conspiracy, slaughter and imperial political intrigue. And the author is respectful of Islam.

I am particularly impressed with Lawhead's ability to weave existential and theological
...more
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Ancient & Med...: FEB 2012: Byzantium by Stephen R. Lawhead 146 105 Apr 10, 2013 08:25PM  
  • Strategos - Born in the Borderlands (Strategos, #1)
  • The Assyrian
  • The Singer Trilogy: The Mythic Retelling of the Story of the New Testament
  • The Religion  (Tannhauser Trilogy, #1)
  • Shadow Over Kiriath (Legends of the Guardian-King, #3)
  • A Wolf Story
  • The Bruce Trilogy: Steps to the Empty Throne, Path of the Hero King & Price of the King's Peace
  • The Tower of Geburah (Archives of Anthropos, #3)
  • A Tapestry of Murders (Stories told on Pilgrimage from London to Canterbury, #2)
  • The Rise of Robin Hood (Outlaw Chronicles)
  • A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury
  • The Realms Thereunder (The Ancient Earth, #1)
  • The Wolves of Savernake (Domesday, #1)
  • Tales of the Elders of Ireland
  • Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish
  • Pride of Carthage
  • Celtika (The Merlin Codex, Book 1)
  • Attila (Attila Trilogy, #1)
28083
Stephen R. Lawhead is an internationally acclaimed author of mythic history and imaginative fiction. His works include Byzantium, Patrick, and the series The Pendragon Cycle, The Celtic Crusades, and The Song of Albion.

Also see his fanpage at Myspace:
http://www.myspace.com/stephenlawhead...

Stephen was born in 1950, in Nebraska in the USA. Most of his early life was spent in America where he earned
...more
More about Stephen R. Lawhead...
Taliesin (The Pendragon Cycle #1) Hood (King Raven, #1) Arthur (The Pendragon Cycle #3) Merlin (The Pendragon Cycle, #2) Scarlet (King Raven, #2)

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“Oh, but once my memories had pulsed with the blood-heat of life. In desperation, I forced myself to recall that once, I had walked with kings and conversed in languages never heard in this land. Once I had stood at the prow of a Sea Wolf ship and sailed oceans unknown to seamen here. I had ridden horses through desert lands, and dined on exotic foods in Arab tents. I had roamed Constantinople’s fabled streets, and bowed before the Holy Roman Emperor’s throne. I had been a slave, a spy, a sailor. Advisor and confidant of lords, I had served Arabs, Byzantines, and barbarians. I had worn captive’s rags, and the silken robes of a Sarazen prince. Once I had held a jeweled knife and taken a life with my own hand. Yes, and once I had held a loving woman in my arms and kissed her warm and willing lips...Death would have been far, far better than the gnawing, aching emptiness that was now my life.” 7 likes
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