When the falcon has flown, the mountain lion will charge from the east, and all Byzantium will quake. Only one man can save the empire ... the Haga!
1046 AD. The Byzantine Empire teeters on full-blown war with the Seljuk Sultanate. In the borderlands of Eastern Anatolia, a land riven with bloodshed and doubt, young Apion's life is shattered in one swift and brutal Seljuk night raid. Only the benevolence of Mansur, a Seljuk farmer, offers him a second chance of happiness.
Yet a hunger for revenge burns in Apion's soul, and he is drawn down a dark path that leads him right into the heart of a conflict that will echo through the ages.
©2011 Gordon Doherty (P)2015 Gordon Doherty
blind Kindle TTS user
This is a multi-layered novel set in the borderlands of the Byzantine Empire (a modern appellation, since the Byzantines, although by this time thoroughly Greek, considered themselves the true Roman Empire …and honored those ancient Western roots, in nostalgia if not practice. Although I know far less about this place and time than I do others, the history seems impeccably accurate, and the depth and specificity of detail lead me to believe that this book was thoroughly and intelligently researched.
I’ll admit to having a bit of a hard time reading it, had to read it in bits …but not because it was boring or uninteresting, or sloppily written. Just the opposite is true, actually. It was almost too detailed, too rich …to absorbing, and I found that I couldn’t just read it …I had to stop, assimilate, consider, and let my mind range through its reactions to each of the multiple layers.
First, there is the setting. It is so vividly portrayed and placed in its time, that I responded to it with all senses. I could *feel* the grit and the heat. I could *hear* the battle horns, the shouts, and the other terrible noises of war. I could *smell* the warm bread and the less pleasant scents of any Medieval city ..and the stench of the battlefields. I could *taste* the drink made from almonds and yogurt and honey, and the wine, and the honey cakes, and I could *touch* everything. In other words, this setting is a sensual feast, and a banquet of rich experiences, indeed.
Then there are the characters. Each of them, on both sides of this terrible centuries long conflict is not just well drawn, but intensely human, even the villains and the bit players. I found myself identifying with some, aching for them and caring about them, and absolutely hating others, wanting to see them be served a very large helping of very hot vengeance. Even the minor characters, many of who one sees in books about armies, are unique enough not to be one dimensional stock characters. There is the grouch, who has served so long he is cynical, impatient with new recruits and churlish …until is fighting back to back with one of them. There is the drunkard, whose main source of enjoyment involves strong drink and compliant ladies …until the enemy stands in his way, for example.
Then, there is something else. This is a brutal tale about a truly brutal time, and it impacted me on all levels, because the brutality wasn’t just physical, but emotional an spiritual as well. This land …this cradle of civilization has been a war zone for thousands of years …and the issues fought over are little different today than they were at the time of Christ, or even long before. Such constant upheaval, especially where diametrically opposed peoples, such as Byzantine Christians and passionate Islamic adherents met, created (and still create) upheavals of every sort, from clashing armies to devastated families and destroyed psyches and beleaguered souls. All of that is in this book, too …and I found myself considering how complex we are, how our beliefs affect us, and how, sometimes, we have to make choices that wrench us to the very essence of our being. Almost every major character in this book made such choices, and those choices had severe repercussions on every character.
No, this isn’t an easy book to read. It confronts the brutality of war and the brutality of man directly, and without flinching ..but it does so so very skillfully that, like a cobra readying for a strike, the reader is fascinated, and cannot step away …and in my opinion, should not, because these things are also a part of what we are.
The narrator was absolutely perfect for this book. He read with expression an skill, and had absolutely NO problem with the many specialized words and names to be found here. In addition, he just has the “right” voice for this book, and helps bring it into even more vibrant life, at least for me.
I’m not fond of rating books, but I will be giving this book and this narrator 5, and would give more, if I could. Did I “like” it? No …but I found it one of those book experiences that will stay with me for a *very* long time, and it has, via its excellence, had a profound effect on me, so I value it, highly.
The story kept me coming back for more with this book. As always I want there to be more, but i get that all books have to end. I will definitely look for more by this author!
Great story and narration. I'm excited for for the next book
I was provided a free copy in return for an honest review
Amazing blend of history, suspense, intrigue, and story telling
I really didn't have a most memorable part, I loved it from start to finish. If I had to choose, it was when Apion left to join the Timur and overcame the tragic wound he received when his parents were murdered.
Nigel Carrington is a legend in narration matched with a great book! Nigel provided first class entertainment to a very busy book lover.
Without a doubt, Apion. The author was masterful in his articulation of the Apion's tragic life and how he rose above it to meet his destiny. Can't wait for the next in the series.
The historical content. I like history.
When the two neighboring families had a dinner and get together before the family's sons each went off to become soldiers in opposing armies.
This is my first book narrated by Carrington.
The story takes place in the mid 1000's in what is now the modern day part of Asia minor Turkey. The Selijuk Turks are rising in power and creating their own Empire. The Byzantine Empire is corrupt and broke with a poorly funded and supplied army.
A young Byzantine boy, Apion, witnesses his parent's deaths by what appears to be a Selijuk raiding party. Apion is severely wounded, left for dead and then enslaved until Mansur a kindly Selijuk farmer rescues and adopts him. Apion vows vengeance on those who killed his parents. Apion has a destiny to fulfill that is far greater than vengeance on his parent's killers
There are some surprises such as Mansur's motivation in adopting and raising Apion and Mansur's background. One of the villains met his fate. Will the boyhood friends who are now in two opposing armies meet in Battle? Will the Byzantine Empire be able to hold back the Selikuk Turks?
I am eagerly awaiting the sequel.
“I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via AudiobookBlast dot come”
Gordon Doherty seems to have done his homework. He has set the story in a location and period of history I don't know that much about, having not seen any other books that focus on this conflict.
The story is set around 1046 AD, when first contact occurs between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuks (an empire that had only just come into being a decade before and only lasted ~150 years, thus doesn't seem to get mentioned much in history books). The hero of the story is a young man, Apion, whom is partially crippled after having barely survived a childhood tragedy that took his parents’ lives. He is taken in by an old warrior and brought up as family, being taught how to fight and how to overcome his injury, while also how to use his mind and strategise. But all through this he never gives up his quest for revenge against his parent's murderer. There is a vision he sees and a prophecy (of the Haga, as in the publisher's description here) of who he shall become.
Ultimately this is a pretty much a basic revenge story. Boy is hurt as child, grows into a man and a warrior set on getting revenge. There are surprises along the way (one fairly significant one towards the end - of which I shall mention in a little more spoiler free detail below) and some interesting characters but the story itself is not highly original.
What is great and interesting and original is the setting and the detail paid to the historical setting. I really enjoyed it, with Doherty very clearly outlining the parties involves, the political situation at the time and setting the right atmosphere around the events. It is written very well, with none of this stuff being. Right form the first few sentences I enjoyed how Doherty wrote. The story itself might not be exactly ground-breaking, but the writing and the attention to historical detail makes it more than worthwhile.
The surprise mentioned above was a little disappointing in how it was handled, in my opinion. It is revealed to the audience through a conversation between some minor characters at one point, without being revealed to Apion. This creates some nice tension as the reader knows the truth that Apion does not. Unfortunately Apion finds out extremely quickly and that tension of the reader knowing but the character not knowing fizzles. I think it would be better for the revelation to be made to both reader and Apion at the same time or for the time between when reader discovers it and when Apion does to be significantly larger. This lost opportunity is one of my bigger annoyances with the writing, which clearly isn’t a big annoyance.
Nigel Carrington performs really well. He does action really well, speeding up his narration ever so slightly through intense sections, carrying with it a tension and excitement. But if someone speaks during these intense parts it is back to normal, so that only the narrator shows tension not the characters (unless the character is required to show tension. So I enjoyed his inflection and character work. At one point the narrator mentions someone is out of breath and when that character speaks Carrington sounds out of breath.
He does a variety of accents for characters too. There was one point in which this pulled me completely from the story though - a minor character (a few lines at most) is given a Scottish accent. It just sounds very out of place. Sure most everyone else sound British, but this is fairly standard for books and movies set in Greek or Roman times. The Scottish just sounded wrong and took me out of it. Other than that minor issue I really enjoyed Carrington’s work.
This audiobook was provided by the author at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of audiobookblast dot com
If anything, this book, at a minimum, is a great addition because it deals with an often neglected subject within historical-fiction.
This is a good story . It offers a view a society under pressure, but breaking its social contract with its people, e.g.: .you people pay me money and pledge your undying loyalty and we will allow you to try and support yourself, and we will at least protect you from outside outsidev threats. But we will be relying on you to serve us to achieve the latter. Hmmmm, the Ducas, Commenus', and Paleogi never lacked for money. But, they lived behind big walls, and the "rump of an Empire" lasted from 378 (Adrianople) to 1453, when Mehmet II finally breached the walls. Interesting that some give date as the start of the Renaissance.
Well, one could argue that renaissance (rebirth) of civilization and art occurred in Carolingian . The (Marshall, Chamberlain, chief or arms ) did, after are, repel the forces of, what, the "first jihad" o Just the expansion of the Caliphate of Cordova in Frankia. (Charles the Hammer at Tour/Poitier in 732). Yet, many in the first Crusade thought the Byzantine Army the best in the world at first glance. I think they had changed their minds at or after Dorylaeum, when imperial forces under a Taciitus, hid in the marsh. The said General probably acting under orders not to let his smallish army be destroyed.
This book gives us a detailed look into that army in earlier time, 1073 viewed after the launch of the 1st Crusade, of 1096.
One wonders if the Delhi's in Byzantium took sides with Byzantine or Ottoman Turk conquest 300 years later.
Scott the Salesman
Cornwellesque. A thorough look at a forgotten empire. Loved the character development of Appian and Nazir.
Much like the author's Roman series in structure but possibly more interesting in terms of time period and setting. I really enjoyed the main character's growth and thought it was an entertaining v listen thanks to the narrator.
"A Byzantine plot of epic proportions"
By far my most enjoyable audio book in the last few months, I look forward to book 2 with anticipation.
loved it! really good story. captured the time period well. will read the sequels. impressed
each character realism was prevalent
yet another and most final loss of his second family.
the crescent and cross
yet another success of author and narrator pahe most powerful and immotive story will not meet its full potential in audio format without an a class reader and this book for me has it all. ckage. t
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