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Any Byzantine historical fiction?

Brian G Turner

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Aside from Robert Graves's Belisarius, I'm not aware of any fiction specifically set in the Byzantine Empire.

I presume there must be something decent set in this place and time??
 

Nechtan

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You could count Guy Gavriel Kay's Sarantine Mosaic duology.

Sarantium is a thinly disguised Byzantium/Constantinople. If you're up on your Byzantine history you will be able to recognise a certain emperor and his wife and certain events such as an incident in the Hippodrome.
 

Ray McCarthy

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Perhaps most of it is in French?
Or not English anyway. Like all the best Chinese stuff has to be translated for us English speakers?
 

Brian G Turner

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Yes, have read the Sarantine duology, and Harry Turtledove's Agent of Byzantium.

And yet, I struggle to find much else, despite a mass of Roman historical fiction.
 

thaddeus6th

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Brian, surely you can't be surprised? Byzantine history is a gaping void in the general knowledge of most people, for perhaps understandable reasons. The state itself is extinct, sadly, and the West/Latins/Catholic Church committed, arguably, one of the most stupid mistakes in history by conducting the Fourth Crusade against it.

It's a shame, but not surprising. The Romans are held up as the pinnacle of civilisation, and the Byzantines fall between the stools of Ancient Rome/Greece on the one hand and medieval England/France on the other.
 

Brian G Turner

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I suspect a huge problem is that the Byzantines had no discernible impact on Britain, whereas the Romans left innumerable monuments that stand, even today. Even still, the lack of Byzantine novels is unsettling. I wonder if there are more popular in Greek publishing?
 

thaddeus6th

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Not direct impact, but without Byzantium the Turks or their predecessors would've overrun eastern Europe centuries early.
 

Brian G Turner

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Oh - and Byzantium, by Stephen Lawhead. That's 3 historical fiction, and 2 historical fantasy. Surely more?
 

Venusian Broon

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Not direct impact, but without Byzantium the Turks or their predecessors would've overrun eastern Europe centuries early.
Actually if it hadn't been for the Byzantine empire the Arab conquest of the Med may have continued on the Greek/European side - they had first attacked Constantinople in 674, well before those upstart Turks!
 

Brian G Turner

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Found this - unfortunately I can't tell you if any on the list are any good:

http://www.historicalnovels.info/Constantinople.html#Byz
Cheers! That's a great list to work with. :)

Actually if it hadn't been for the Byzantine empire the Arab conquest of the Med may have continued on the Greek/European side - they had first attacked Constantinople in 674, well before those upstart Turks!
Additionally, IMO the fall of Constantinople was significantly responsible for the Renaissance in Europe, not least the flood of refugees with their libraries of Greek texts to allied Venice and Genoa. :)
 

Venusian Broon

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Additionally, IMO the fall of Constantinople was significantly responsible for the Renaissance in Europe, not least the flood of refugees with their libraries of Greek texts to allied Venice and Genoa. :)
Just shows you how messing about with alternative histories can have huge effects on what should be happening elsewhere. :)

I would also believe, IMO, that if the Arabs had conquered Constantinople around the 7th century a lot more libraries and ancient texts would also have survived in their hands and been reproduced throughout their empire. So would have trickled back in - as it did eventually at the end of the Reconquista.
 

Nechtan

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I'm not a historical fiction reader but I do like history, especially ancient history. I've noticed that when I go for a good browse in the ancient/classical section it's overflowing with volume after volume about Rome usually up to the Fall of the Roman Empire. Not so much on the Byzantines (or anyone else). It does seem like there's a bit of an obsession with the Romans which may be connected to a Western Eurocentric viewpoint of history.
 

Narkalui

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I read a terrific trilogy of 'Byzantine'* history non fiction by John Norwich. Absolutely ace.

*It's not 'Byzantine'. It's Roman. Any citizen of the 'Byzantine' empire would have been deeply offended by that notion. He would have turned on the speaker and said "There is no Byzantine Empire, I am a citizen of the Roman Empire." The Roman Empire fell in 1453 AD. If you must differentiate then perhaps 'the post Rome Roman Empire?'
 

Venusian Broon

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I read a terrific trilogy of 'Byzantine'* history non fiction by John Norwich. Absolutely ace.

*It's not 'Byzantine'. It's Roman. Any citizen of the 'Byzantine' empire would have been deeply offended by that notion. He would have turned on the speaker and said "There is no Byzantine Empire, I am a citizen of the Roman Empire." The Roman Empire fell in 1453 AD. If you must differentiate then perhaps 'the post Rome Roman Empire?'
Yes I really enjoyed his books - I've also got his history of Venice and the Venetian Empire which is just as good. Trying to find a (reasonably priced!) copy of his history of the Norman kingdom of Sicily, The Kingdom in the Sun
 

Brian G Turner

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martin321

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I've read a lot of books about ancient Rome, but can only recall ever reading one book in which Byzantium played a role. That particular book was "The Evening of the World" by Allan Massie, which I had mixed feelings about at the time (I gave it 3 stars out of 5). The reviews are also mixed, with some people liking the book and others hating it. The book is rather strange with an unusual structure, but I remember it as being well written.
 

svalbard

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Alfred Duggan has a couple of books set in the Byzantine Empire. Lady for Ransom is the one I can recall reading. He is an author worth checking out.
 
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