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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  3,981 Ratings  ·  267 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 fabled city of Byzantium, where they are to present the beautiful and costly hand-illuminate ...more
Audio CD, Library Edition
Published September 2002 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1996)
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Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
A. Dawes
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Generally a fantasist, Lawhead also writes historical fiction quite well.

The title here is a little misleading, as it's more about the destination than the story itself. Aidan is a blueblood, who chooses the role of a scribe in an Irish monastery over a role of power. Adventure though soon awaits, as he and a group of monks are given a mission to journey to the mystical East's capital, Byzantium, to present a valuable manuscript, The Book of Kells, to the Emperor himself.

The story suits a fant
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
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?
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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.
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
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Docked one star for a page or two of Christian apologetics at the end. The problems of theodicy are not resolved quite so readily as that; unfortunately, theodicy is the first-person narrator’s big spiritual problem.

Byzantium is in every other way a five-star read, and diligently researched as to historical background. I spotted one or two trivial anachronisms, but the big stuff checks out. Somewhere in the middle of the ninth century, Aidan the Irish monk travels to the other end of the mediaev
Shannon Wilson
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Kevin Burrell
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The scope of this book allows readers to imagine life in 10th-century Ireland, or amongst Nordic pirates, or Saracen raiders. It Imagines life in Celtic monasteries and sheik's palaces. It's grounded in lots of rich historical detail, and Lawhead says that the main character Aidan is a compilation of several historical Irish missionaries of that time. Best of all, Aidan's faith journey is robust and avoids simple platitudes. How does a person's faith survive a journey of intense suffering? The a ...more
Jul 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Monica Davis
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Peter Jones
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure I'll ever appreciate it as much as I did on my first reading when it was new, but no matter how many times I've read it (I've lost count), it never ceases to hold my attention.

Every once in a while, Lawhead is able to embed a Truth in a few paragraphs in such a way as to amaze. In Dream Thief, it was the Great Dance. Here in Byzantium's final chapter, it was the particular nature of the Gospel to one who has truly suffered.
Jack Vasen
Nov 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a great examination of a sheltered monk's spiritual journey as he sets out on a pilgrimage from ancient Ireland to the capital of the Christian world but ends up bounced around everywhere from what is now Sweden to Constantinople to the Arab world.
He is made a slave and passed around to three different owners yet manages to have a position of influence on all of them and also in the politics of that area of the world.
This naive monk begins his journey believing that God will smooth
Robert Delikat
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Cathy Hickling
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Stephen Lawhead book I’ve read, but it won’t be my last. I became immersed in the journey of Aidan, an Irish Monk, who encounters every manner of trial as he sets out from his homeland with a group of priests to deliver the Book of Kells to the Emperor in Byzantium. I loved the multi-faceted Aidan, his colorful multi-cultural entourage of supporting characters, the rich historical backdrop, and the universal lessons learned as he transforms from a happy young monk into a time-w ...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
Sep 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Marsha Lambert
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An epic adventure and fabulous tale of one man's journey to Byzantium. The main character, Aiden is very well written as are the many secondary characters. This book is 870 pages long and not once did I think it dragged. The story line kept me engaged from page one till the last.

Well done to the author. I will be purchasing more books by Mr. Lawhead.
Jason D'Souza
All time favorite fiction. Read it more then once. Visited Byzantium and the most beautiful Cathedral ever built, the Haggia Sophia.
My dream is for Mel Gibson or Ridley Scott to direct the movie of Byzantium.
Over 2 years I saw this book listed in Goodreads. However, I never became interested enough because I knew Steven Lawhead wrote of fantasy themed novels. I saw this book in a thrift store 6 months ago and decided what the heck and bought it, doubting I would ever read it. A few weeks ago I picked it up to scan it and never put it down. This book is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It had everything I love, Vikings, early Christianity, Constantinople, Saracens, adventure I could ...more
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Ancient & Medieva...: FEB 2012: Byzantium by Stephen R. Lawhead 146 116 Apr 10, 2013 08:25PM  
  • Strategos: Born in the Borderlands (Strategos, #1)
  • The Assyrian
  • Insurrection (The Insurrection Trilogy, #1)
  • A Wolf Story
  • Hound
  • The Singer Trilogy: The Mythic Retelling of the Story of the New Testament
  • The Singing Sword (Camulod Chronicles, #2)
  • Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish (Celtic World of Morgan Llywelyn)
  • The Tower of Geburah (Archives of Anthropos, #3)
  • Tales of the Elders of Ireland
  • Mercenaries (The Conquest Trilogy, #1)
  • The Realms Thereunder (The Ancient Earth, #1)
  • White Nights, Red Morning (The Russians, #6)
  • The Religion (Tannhauser, #1)
  • Gildenford (Norman Quartet, #1)
  • The Bruce Trilogy: The Steps to the Empty Throne / The Path of the Hero King / The Price of the King's Peace (Robert the Bruce, #1-3)
  • The Scourge of God
  • The Peasant Girl's Dream
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:

Stephen was born in 1950, in Nebraska in the USA. Most of his early life was spent in America where he earned
More about Stephen R. Lawhead...

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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.” 10 likes
“I saw Byzantium in a dream, and knew that I would die there. That vast city seemed to me a living thing: a great golden lion... I felt the dread jaws close on me as I stood screaming.

Then I awoke; but my waking brought neither joy nor relief. For I rose not to life, but to the terrible certainty of death. I was to die, and the golden towers of Byzantium would be my tomb. ~ Aidan”
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