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Publisher's Summary

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-illuminated Book of Kells to the emperor of all Christendom.

During this expedition by sea and over land, Aidan becomes, by turns, a warrior and a sailor, a slave and a spy, a Viking and a Saracen, and finally, a man. He sees more of the world than most men of his time, becoming an ambassador to kings and an intimate of Byzantium's fabled Golden Court. And finally, this valiant Irish monk faces the greatest trial confronting any man in any age: the command of his own destiny.

©1996 Stephen R. Lawhead (P)2001 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Not merely a gripping yarn - and it certainly is that - this is also a novel about faith and the tests life plants in its way. Lawhead, author of the popular Pendragon cycle of fantasies, here makes a sure move into mainstream fiction." ( Booklist)

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Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Mathew
  • Saint Cloud, MN, United States
  • 04-26-09


After reading/listening through Byzantium I am left with a sense of wonder at the adventures told. Only one warning though; it starts out very slowly. But the excitement does pick up once the monk Aidan is out of his Abbey home. This tale is told with a great sense of detail and makes you feel as if you are with Aidan walking the magnificent streets of ancient Byzantium, in a Viking drinking hall, at a Saracen court, or sailing for your life aboard a mighty longship.

The triumphs and despair of the long journey are vivid and the characters are well fleshed out. The narrator does a good job with the changing his inflection and accent to give you the feel that you are listening to the roar of a Viking Jarl, or the clever intelligence of a noble Saracen Emir. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


Years after listening to Stuart Langton perform this story my husband and I are still able conjur up images with just a word - 'aya' - and that one word brings back all the warmth and integrity of Lawhead's wonderfull characters. I miss them so! Get past the monotone of the first few chapters - trust the writer/reader that it has it's purpose.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • Yamhill, OR, United States
  • 03-28-11

Well worth the credit

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 Byzantium.

As others have commented, the book does start off a bit slow but that is perhaps to better portray and contrast the life of Aidan the monk with that of Aidan the adventuresome hero . And what an adventure there is to come. The time is the 10th century. The story begins and ends in an abbey in Ireland but takes the reader to such far away places as Constantinople, Scandinavia and Persia. Throughout these disparate lands, languages and cultures moves a protagonist who is incredibly skilled in diplomacy and who's polyglot virtuosity moves him in circles he might not normally find himself traversing so readily and so gracefully. Aidan is comfortable in the company of humble monks, marauding, barbarian Vikings, exalted emperors and sultans. Our hero is a lowly priest of noble heritage; he's a devout believer who becomes an atheist. and well, as is so brilliantly portrayed to us in the book, "it's complicated." Actually, the book is not so complicated; on the contrary, it is a simple story that is profound and touching on many levels and in many regards. The book will not disappoint.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

great story, blah reader

I was sorely disappointed in the reading of this saga. All the characters were delivered in angry or gruff voices, and there was very little vocal difference between the many characters with little or no inflection. When the characters were in Constantinople and Arabia they sounded strangely East Indian, not Turkish, Persian, or Arabian.

I had "wish listed" all the volumes in this series, but as they are all narrated by Mr. Langdon I don't think I'll download them. It's too bad because I loved the story and characters, and I assume the following volumes are just as interesting, but it was so terribly difficult to stay focused while listening to the monotone narrator that I just can't imagine listening to him again.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great Book/Awful Narrator

Book was wonderful. I have read it several times. Stuart Langton reads it mechanically. A grave disappointment for a reader of a Lawhead book. Now if it was a book by Stephen Hawking or Asimov I would understand...;)

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Melinda
  • Galveston, TX, USA
  • 11-17-09

tedious narration

Story is not bad but I felt I had to suffer through the narrator's very slow and deliberate telling of the story.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • James
  • Collierville, TN, United States
  • 09-26-09

A truly great story!

This was my first by Lawhead. It will not be my last. He is wonderful. His character development is among the best. His plots and story line hold your interest and suspense throughout the book. Above all it is a story of faith that anyone (believers and nonbelievers) will appreciate.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Thoughtful Adventure

This absorbing and sometimes thought provoking tale is only mildly flawed by predictability. Willingly suspending my judgment and simply enjoying the yarn proved worth every compelling minute. In the ethical struggle of the protagonist, I realized I was rooting for the traditional G*d, a posture in which I rarely find myself.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

great story

it started off a bit slow but as soon as the adventure began i was hooked, this story completely reminded me of Louis L'amours book the The Walking Drum if you liked this check it out after

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Good potential, but very dry!

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Narration, narration, narration

You didn???t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The story could have been great, the dry tone made it so boring I couldn't finish it.. I would have chose to read this book rather then listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful