Ancient & Medieval Historical Fiction discussion

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Early Middle Ages (476–1000) > Byzantium/Constantinople/Istanbul

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message 1: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (last edited Nov 02, 2011 02:01AM) (new)

Terri | 16998 comments I have wanted to try this book for a very long time.
Byzantium (Harper Fiction) by Stephen R. Lawhead by Stephen R. Lawhead
Byzantium

I have always baulked at buying it because I didn't like his Young Adult offering
Hood (King Raven, #1) by Stephen R. Lawhead
Hood

To my knowledge however, Byzantium (which is set in the 9th century), was not written as YA. It was written long before Hood for the adult demographic.

So I was delighted to receive Byzantium in the mail from a great friend as a surprise present and I shall be reading it in December if luck is with me.


message 2: by Ireney (new)

Ireney Berezniak Awesome, I will be waiting for your review of Byzantium! I've had this title on my wish list at amazon.com for some time.

On a related note, currently in my reading I'm in the geographical region of Byzantium. I've been reading about the events of 1683, which was a very important date in European history, when the Ottoman Empire representing Islam faced off against the combined forces of Christian armies in the siege of Vienna. The outcome of this event shaped Europe and Western Civilization as we know it. I just finished Victoria, which is a historical fiction novel in Polish, and I've started The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe, which is a non-fictional treatise on that event.

The Ottoman Turks, of course, conquered Constantinople, and Byzantium by extension, in 1453. I'm planning to read A Place Called Armageddon next, which deals with that faithful event. This book could be a worthwhile read to anyone else interested in Byzantium.

Books mentioned:

A Place Called Armageddon by C.C. Humphreys The Enemy at the Gate Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe by Andrew Wheatcroft Victoria by Cezary Harasimowicz

ib.


message 3: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (last edited Nov 02, 2011 12:43PM) (new)

Terri | 16998 comments I will be interested to see what you thought of A Place Called Armageddon when you finish it.

p.s I retitled the thread to include the former name of Constantinople.. in case someone wonders why it's called Constantinople and yet you and I are talking about Byzantium. lol


message 4: by Scott (new)

Scott Bury (ScottBury) | 5 comments I'm really NOT trying to spam, but there is precious little in this thread for reading , so ...
my first novel should be out soon, and it's set in 597 AD/CE, starting north of Dacia, eventually getting to Constantinople. If no one here objects, I'll give you the title and links.


message 5: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (CaveatLector) Scott wrote: "I'm really NOT trying to spam, but there is precious little in this thread for reading , so ...
my first novel should be out soon, and it's set in 597 AD/CE, starting north of Dacia, eventually g..."


We don't object......


message 6: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments Go for it. I agree with Dawn. I don't think anyone in the group will mind, Scott. :)

Many authors, such as yourself it seems, know the difference between spamming groups and flogging a dead horse, and just introducing your own book where it is relevant.


message 7: by Ireney (new)

Ireney Berezniak What the ladies said >8) Please share!

ib.


message 8: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments This is non fiction not fiction, but I am currently reading Inside the Seraglio: Private Lives of the Sultans of Istanbul.

Inside the Seraglio Private Lives of the Sultans in Istanbul by John Freely


message 9: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments I am going to take a break from Inside the Seraglio. Man, talk about name fest. It is one of those books that is name after name after name.
I just mentioned to some friends that it is like reading a complete stranger's family tree.
The authors details are in the constant barrage of names, and not in the 'details', so to speak.


message 10: by Ireney (last edited Nov 29, 2011 11:11AM) (new)

Ireney Berezniak Terri wrote: "I am going to take a break from Inside the Seraglio. Man, talk about name fest. It is one of those books that is name after name after name.
I just mentioned to some friends that it is like reading..."


Lol ... I'll try to remember to stay away from this one. I've read books like that before, and the experience is certainly not enjoyable.

ib.


message 11: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments Yep, keep clear unless you simply want to learn something. lol
If you are looking to enjoy what you are learning, Inside the Seraglio doesn't deliver.


message 12: by Scott (new)

Scott Bury (ScottBury) | 5 comments Okay, after getting the group's permission:

My novel is called The Bones of the Earth. It's set in 597 AD, starting in the "barbarian" lands north of Dacia. The MC eventually gets to Constantinople, and a portion of the book explores the cultures and religions competing there.

But the plot has a lot of action, adventure, magic and, yes, some romance. There has to be a love interest, right?

I tried to write the kind of story I could not find: a swashbuckling tale that was NOT about ancient Britain, but explored a region and a time that seems enticingly shadowy. We're taught so little in school about the history of eastern Europe, it's almost maddening.

Part 1 is now available on Amazon Kindle Book Store, Smashwords and iBookstore, if you're interested - and I hope you are. You can get a fairly long free sample, as well, on my blog.

I'd love to hear your feedback!


message 13: by Ireney (last edited Dec 12, 2011 12:37PM) (new)

Ireney Berezniak Scott wrote: "Okay, after getting the group's permission:

My novel is called The Bones of the Earth. It's set in 597 AD, starting in the "barbarian" lands north of Dacia. The MC eventually gets to Constantino..."


Interesting ... it sounds a little like alternate history? I'm assuming this is the book you are talking about, Scott:

The Bones of the Earth, Part 1 Initiation Rites by Scott Bury

ib.


message 14: by Scott (new)

Scott Bury (ScottBury) | 5 comments That's the one. Not really an alternate history ... lots of research, and just an assumption that magic and the ancient gods might have been real.


message 15: by Ireney (new)

Ireney Berezniak Scott wrote: "That's the one. Not really an alternate history ... lots of research, and just an assumption that magic and the ancient gods might have been real."

How many parts are you planning, Scott?

ib.


message 16: by Scott (new)

Scott Bury (ScottBury) | 5 comments Three in this book; I'm formatting parts 2 and 3 right now for Amazon, Smashwords and iBooks.

I'm toying with the idea of sequels, but my next novel, almost done, is in a completely different vein.


message 17: by Ireney (new)

Ireney Berezniak While waiting for 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West to arrive in the mail, which I wanted to read following A Place Called Armageddon, a historical novel set at the siege of Constantinople, I bought and finished the Kindle version of
Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization. It's a fairly short and very accessible history of Byzantium. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.

I've also posted a brief review, if anyone cares >8)

ib.


message 18: by Linda (new)

Linda (ladylawyer8650) | 1554 comments Scott, I want to read your book. I'll check it out from Smashwords.


message 19: by Joseph (new)

Joseph Finley (JosephFinley) | 50 comments Byzantium is a pretty good read. It also deals a lot with Vikings (the emperors kept a personal guard of foreigners, many of whom were Northmen, called the Varangian Guard). You could even link any discussion of Byzantium to the great thread I just read on Vikings. I’m fascinated with Constantinople right now as I’m hoping to use it as a setting for my next novel.


message 20: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments Hi Joe,
I did wonder which thread it should go in when I posted about Byzantium.
A large portion of the book involves Vikings doesn't it? (I haven't been able to squeeze the read in even though I read the start, I am yet to get back to it).
Maybe, what? 70 percent of the book involves Vikings? Would you say they are that present in it?


message 21: by Joseph (new)

Joseph Finley (JosephFinley) | 50 comments Terri - from Chapter 10 on (through chapter 77) the book basically involves Vikings (Harald Bull-roar's Vikings to be precise). They do disappear for a while in the final third of the book, but I won't say why to avoid a spoiler :)


message 22: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments Oh. Leave me hanging with that ymstery. :) Good though. You've got me worked out as I do hate spoilers. lol

Makes me eager to get back to it. I was meant to squeeze it in end of this month, but I am behind on my January reads already. It may get bumped to Feb or March.


message 23: by Joseph (new)

Joseph Finley (JosephFinley) | 50 comments My favorite quote about Constantinople/Byzantium is from Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “The most profligate debaucheries, the most abandoned villainies, the most atrocious crimes, plots, murders and assassinations form the warp and woof of the history of Constantinople.” Who wouldn’t want to read about this place?


message 24: by Linda (new)

Linda (ladylawyer8650) | 1554 comments Those words do just draw one right in. I believe I need to read that book today, right now! Lol


message 25: by Ireney (new)

Ireney Berezniak Joseph wrote: "Who wouldn’t want to read about this place?"

Hah hah ... my sentiments exactly. In the past two months I've had my nose burried in the stories of the empire, and I do not intend to stop anytime soon! I have a few more titles on my list, including one written by Scott that he mentioned in this thread. The Byzantine Empire is truly rife with fascinating history. It's a wonder that so few fiction authors explored such a fertile subject ... in the English speaking world, anyway. I'm glad to learn that you are thinking of writing a novel set in that world, Joseph. Do keep us updated.

ib.


message 26: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments Here's a golden oldie that our fellow member Chris mentioned in the Troy thread.

Theodora and the Emperor


message 27: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (last edited Jan 30, 2012 05:24PM) (new)

Terri | 16998 comments Another great recommendation by Chris in the Troy thread that are set in the Byzantine Empire.
Good books, it seems, for those who are chasing books on this Empire (Ireney for example...:)..)

The Bearkeeper's Daughter by Gillian Bradshaw
The Bearkeeper's Daughter

Imperial Purple by Gillian Bradshaw
Imperial Purple


message 28: by Ireney (new)

Ireney Berezniak That's great! I have not heard of Bradshaw and it looks as though she's written a few HF novels. Unfortunately, the one's I'd be really interested to read are not available in electronic format >8(

ib.


message 29: by Zeljka (new)

Zeljka (ZTook) | 13 comments Hi,

I have recently read the book Byzantium The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire by Judith Herrin Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire by Judith Herrin. It is a non-fiction book, interesting as the chapter division is based on specific topics rather than on the chronological order of events. I at least found it outstanding, because its wide selection of anecdotes and historical sources really familiarized me with the whole culture, religion and politics. Although, the minus would be that you might find yourself lost among the numerous names mentioned in, just like I did but grew accustomed to it.


message 30: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments if that is the book I am thinkgin of, then it is a very popular book. Highly respected too, Zeljka. I haven't read it yet, but I have to admit, I have an aversion to books that pepper the reader constantly with names..drives me crazy.


message 31: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (last edited Apr 20, 2012 04:17AM) (new)

Terri | 16998 comments This one is also popular.
Byzantium The Apogee (Byzantium) by John Julius Norwich
Byzantium: The Apogee

I notice just now that this Byzantium: The Apogee, is by the author that also wrote the below book...which James Hockey just mentioned in the Meet & Greet thread.
A History of Venice by John Julius Norwich
A History of Venice


message 32: by Zeljka (new)

Zeljka (ZTook) | 13 comments Terri wrote: "I have an aversion to books that pepper the reader constantly with names..drives me crazy...."

Yes, it drove me crazy too :D but after a time I simply decided to enjoy in the descriptions without delving too much into the names. I think the author really wanted to bring us closer to the subject her whole educating life is dedicated yet still so unfamiliar to the general public. Unfortunately, while writing the book, she unintentionally kept forgetting that the targeting audience aren't her students :)


message 33: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments Another author that has chronic 'overnaming' disorder is Robin Waterfield. have you read any of his books?

I tried to read his bookXenophon's Retreat last year and it did my head it too much. There didn't seem to be any story underneath, just a constant barrage of names; people, countries, towns, places etc etc.. and not in a time line eithr, so you'd be reading about the son's story, then you're back three generations reading that story, and you don't even realise until you're confused, then forward to the father's then back to the son's. And so on and so on. It was tough work. I will never try and other Waterfield.
Xenophon's Retreat by Robin Waterfield


message 34: by Zeljka (new)

Zeljka (ZTook) | 13 comments Terri wrote: "Another author that has chronic 'overnaming' disorder is Robin Waterfield. have you read any of his books?..."

No, I haven't read any of his - seems interesting, although as you say one must really be in mood for reading it, or fear to tire soon of it. My patience was constantly at the edge while I was reading Herodotus's The History, just because of many strange names and places in it, but I managed to finish it. It was worthwhile eventually, but I wouldn't touch it ever again.


message 35: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments Three cheers for finishing Herodotus! Lol :-)


message 36: by Zeljka (new)

Zeljka (ZTook) | 13 comments Chris wrote: "Zeljka,
I'm curious if you have tried Harold Lamb's Theodora Emperor book."


No, I didn't. Looks interesting, now that I know something about her from Herrin's book. Good recommendation :)


message 37: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (last edited Apr 23, 2012 02:37PM) (new)

Terri | 16998 comments By previous post, do you mean previous in this thread, Chris?
For those looking for it..this thread..Message 26 and 27. :)


message 38: by Tim (new)

Tim Hodkinson (TimHodkinson) | 556 comments I'd like to mention Strategos - Born in the Borderlands by Gordon Doherty. Set in 1046 AD it deals with the Byzantine Empire as it lurches into war with the Seljuk Sultanate and the run up to Manzikert.
Strategos - Born in the Borderlands by Gordon Doherty


message 39: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments Where did I see this book recently..???


message 40: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments Oh that's right. Ireney popped in and posted his review of Strategos in one of the group folders the other day.


message 41: by Ireney (new)

Ireney Berezniak Strategos was a fairly decent read. I did enjoy it, and can recommend it if you are into military historical fiction/adventure. This is the first in a planned series, so if you prefer to read entire series back-to-back, you may want to wait, Zeljka.

I've also read have read or currently reading these on the subject of Byzantium:

Justinian The Sleepless One by Ross Laidlaw Belisarius Book 1 The First Shall Be Last by Paolo Belzoni Belisarius Glory of the Romans by Paolo Belzoni

I will probably tackle these next:

The Mosaic of Shadows (Demetrios Askiates, #1) by Tom Harper
Count Belisarius by Robert Graves

ib.


message 42: by K.L. (last edited Aug 16, 2012 11:45PM) (new)

K.L. Coones Byzantium Byzantium by Stephen R. Lawhead
It's been out for a long time, so I imagine most of you guys have read it already, but if it has slipped passed you, It was a good read. It has a lot more in it than just stuff going on in the city.

Matter of fact, it was the first histo/fiction I ever read.

oops! I missed Joe's and Terri's message, but Ill plug the book again anyway, haha


message 43: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments I can do you one better...:-) ...we even did Lawhead's Byzantium in this group as our very first Group Read back in February this year. I gave it 4 stars!
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/7...


message 44: by K.L. (new)

K.L. Coones I thought it was really good too, and I was pretty young when I read it. I loved the scene where... oh, I better not.

You guys are just going to have to read it for yerselves! =P


message 45: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments Ha. :D


message 47: by Tom (new)

Tom Miers | 2 comments Just spent two hours in magnificent Coptic and Eastern Mediterranean Chrisitan galleries at the Louvre in Paris. Byzantium come to life (or death - many of the exhibits are funerary).

I've just updated my Byzantine Novel - East & West Catharsis by David Capel. Hope it's not out of place here to mention it! Would appreciate comments on its authenticity. I haven't actually been to some of the places I describe, so it's slightly guesswork.East & West: Catharsis


message 48: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments That would be a wonderful thing to go and see. I am very jealous, Tom. :)


message 49: by Angela (new)

Angela (kaousuu) | 4 comments Hi everyone, I just published my book which takes place in Byzantium. It has some romance, but it's not what I would consider a tear-inducing, melodramatic bodice ripper. Of Summer and Winter is the title. Feel free to check it out. It's just a novella, but it's fun, and I love the period.

In the meantime, I just thrilled there's a group that has a subforum just for Byzantine fiction, so I'm going to scroll through and see what ya'll are reading so I can go book shopping.

Also: equally as jealous with the visitation to the Louvre galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a lovely Byzantine wing hidden under the grand staircase. I recommend it for lovers of the era. :)


message 50: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 16998 comments Hi Angela, good luck with your book.

Hope you find something new to read via the thread.
If you know any, non fantasy, non chick lit HF ones, feel free to share. :)


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Books mentioned in this topic

Hood (other topics)
Byzantium (other topics)
The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe (other topics)
A Place Called Armageddon (other topics)
Victoria (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

Stephen R. Lawhead (other topics)
Judith Herrin (other topics)
Herodotus (other topics)
Felix Dahn (other topics)
Robert Graves (other topics)
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