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The Mosaic of Shadows (Demetrios Askiates #1)

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  329 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Byzantium, 1096. A mysterious assassin releases an arrow aimed at the emperor---but he has more than just a man in his sights. A keystone of a crumbling empire, the emperor is the solitary figure holding all the enemies in check. And if he falls, the mightiest power in Christendom will be torn apart.
Demetrios Askiates, unveiler of mysteries, is hired to catch the would-be-
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Minotaur Books (first published 2003)
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Out across the snow-swept fields the sun had sunk beneath the rim of the clouds, facing us like a glowing eye. The sky and land alike were caught in its crimson glare, shimmering red, but that was not what had silenced the watchmen. On the ridge across the plain, some two miles distant, an army had appeared. They rode towards us with the sun behind them, their spears like pricks of flame and their banners dark above them. They were moving forward, but as one row passed into the shadows below the ...more
In theory, I shouldn't really like this book. The majority of historical fiction that ticks my boxes tends to be that which is based around battles, bloody intrigue and grisly realism. In other words, a lot of action.

Disregard the rather misleading blurb from the back cover of the book. This book, for the most part, revolves around a plot to assassinate the Emperor Alexius by a shadowy fanatical monk and an amazingly modern weapon called a tzangara (or a crossbow to you and me). There is relativ
Paige  *an exploding fluffball* Bookdragon
Because Markus fanboyed in the second book. TBR!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book was entertaining though not as engaging as I was hoping for.

Demetrios is a good character, his daughters and family life felt superfluous to the story and his love interest was likable but expendable, as a love interest that is, the rest of her story could have been expanded.

The beginning of the book started out well, with the emperor and assassins and politics but that never followed through into a really good historical setting. Most of the book felt like a modern mystery in costum
Martin Smrz
The detective part was extremely slow moving. The historical part was kind of strangely vague and as a whole it did was not really exiting book
Peregrine 12
Dec 23, 2010 Peregrine 12 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of crusaders; historical fiction
Recommended to Peregrine 12 by: Kristian, in Canada
Exciting read; the ending left me feeling a little flat, though, especially when the bad guy reveals himself. But this is a solid four-star read.

This book was referred to me by a friend whose hobby was participating in the Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA); his persona/character: a crusader. He studied history, swordplay, etc, for his part and fell in love with this book, he said, for its accuracy. Also it's a very good story, as he told me repeatedly.
Dec 30, 2015 Felix rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of mystery, historical novels, and especially Byzantinists.
Shelves: byzantine-stuff
I started reading this book for the very simple reason that there are few historical novels set in Byzantium, let alone Byzantium after Late Antiquity, so I'll pretty much take what I can get. There were definitely things I didn't like - and they were big things (at least to me) - but despite being pretty disgruntled by the ending I'm still pretty pleased with the book overall. I'll definitely be heading on to the next book in the trilogy.

When I first started this book I really thought it was go
Although not completely dissapointed with The Mosaic of Shadows, I was not completely satisfied. At times, I just wanted to lurch that book at my wall, and at others, I glanced at my clock wishing time could only stop so I could read some more, derived from the brilliance at which the story is flowing.

Tom Harper is able to come up with a great idea for a story: we Byzantium at the peak of its decadence, surrounded by enemies north and south. A clever plot to kill the Emperor is almost succesful.
Referred to by a friend who knows my enjoyment of historical mysteries. Found writing style to reflect period in understandable way. Lots of action scenes so reader kept interested in progress of investigation. Did not see ending coming which is a big plus for any novel. Will look for more from this author.
Jan 31, 2011 Kelanth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mi piacciono i thriller a sfondo storico e questo in particolar modo mi ha entusiasmato molto. Da una parte perchè ha un'ambientazione che non è proprio la classica (Inghilterra, Francia, etc...) ma bensì Bisanzio e l'impero Bizantino e dall'altra parte perchè i personaggi e non solo quello principale sono costruiti benissimo. Il contesto storico e i riferimenti sono puntuali e precisi ma comprensibilissimi e mai pesanti da digerire. Insomma anche se ci troviamo davanti al consueto "Mr. X indaga ...more
Feb 18, 2015 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
This was a really good book, enjoyed it alot. Have two books now from this author and both both have been enjoyable cant wait for the next.
Linda Amos
Sep 13, 2015 Linda Amos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. Sometimes it was a bit slow. I will look out for the other books in the series. This is an era of history I know little about, and I now want to see the Sofia more than ever.
Captain Marcus
Jul 23, 2012 Captain Marcus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those of you who are into historical fiction, you are in for a treat. This book stars Demetrios Askiates, a former Byzantine soldier who has managed to become, improbably, a detective in Constantinople. Demetrios has many problems to deal with. The Emperor was almost assassinated. The First Crusade, full of barbaric Franks and Normans, is on its way to the Holy Land. And his daughter has just discovered boys.

This sounds cliche, but it kept me glued to the pages throughout the night and I'm s
I had a really hard time reading this book. It seemed like every time I started reading I would fall asleep. It was a little boring and over descriptive in the beginning, but a little before page 200 it got really good and held my attention from there. The characters I really liked there were not enough of. I also thought that there would be a little more excitement and adventure since it was a mystery. The mystery part got a little over shadoed by all the hisotry, which, while interesting, wasn ...more
Nov 16, 2011 Harriet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
3.5 stars. Ebook (not Kindle). Pretty good political mystery set in the Byzantine Greek era. The narrative is sometimes lyrical and sometimes terse. Demeterios has a reputation for discovering the truth, yet he struggles against political intrigues that are difficult to unravel. Some parts are interesting reading about the culture, military, and courtly and religious rituals. (Though, a few times the description seems a bit superficial, perhaps in order not to overwhelm the reader?)
Feb 15, 2016 Margo1915 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting premise
Dec 28, 2010 Ghost14 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: periodical
My first story-laced book centred around teh crusades. And boy! What a start :)

Light hotheadedness apart, the book gives what you would least expect when you start reading it, and that is a suspense thriller set against the backdrop of the first crusade. So the surprise element , the novelty of the concept and the racy tempo add to a gripping story-line. It is also curiosity-inductively new for one who knows less about the history of the crusades.
Aug 16, 2015 Sean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like it more than I actually did.
May 23, 2015 Abhi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Extremely slow moving
Jun 15, 2009 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I've read by this author, and I enjoyed it. While I'm not jumping up and down with excitement, it did the job for me.....which is to live vicariously in a completely different time and place. I appreciate the author's research, and love what I see and learn with my mind's eye. I believe that this may actually be Harper's first novel, so I look forward to others in the future.
Oct 07, 2010 Liviu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mainstream, read_2010
I was intrigued by the comparison of this series with the awesome Roma sub Rosa by Steven Saylor and the beginning was promising enough, but later the book forgot that it is set in Byzantium ~1095-6 and it became a contemporary thriller in disguise with the author losing the historical perspective big time; still entertaining enough but not as good as i expected; sequels are awful though
Alex Rogers
Sep 12, 2014 Alex Rogers rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh please.
Mar 24, 2012 Winnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having become quite a fan of Tom Harper I searched out this trilogy and was not disappointed - I found the characters memorable and read the entire three books in record time.
Kwing (Mook)
I wanted to like this book more than I did. Snail's pace plot progression. I kept putting this book down and had to forcemyself to finish.
Apr 23, 2007 Caner rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: middle ages, byzantine, crusade enthusiasts
badly written and not really thrilling for a historical thriller. Most of the book is highly boring.
An interesting read. The detective thread could have been better.
Lisa H.
May 03, 2013 Lisa H. rated it liked it
A fun read, based on historical events, not high art but a good time.
May 31, 2014 Borislav rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
a simple and good read for lovers of Byzantine history.
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Tom Harper was born in West Germany in 1977 and grew up in Germany, Belgium and America; he now lives in England. He is chair of the Crime Writers' Association and also a member of the Historical Novels Society and the Society of Authors.

Tom Harper also writes historical adventures as Edwin Thomas.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thre
More about Tom Harper...

Other Books in the Series

Demetrios Askiates (3 books)
  • Knights of the Cross (Demetrios Askiates, #2)
  • Siege Of Heaven (Demetrios Askiates, #3)

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