Any Byzantine historical fiction?

Riselka

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#24
I've heard that Byzantium by Michael Ennis is a fantastic book. Haven't been able to score a copy of it yet though, as it's out of print and difficult to find.
 

Gramm838

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#25
Tom Harper has a really good Byzantium historical/crime trilogy - first volume is the Mosaic of Shadows, then Knights of the Cross, and finally Siege of Heaven
 

JaimeRetief

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#26
I know that this is a bit off topic, as this is the historic fiction sub-forum, however there is a pretty good siries, Belisarius, co-written by David Drake and Eric Flint.
It is science fiction, but the story takes place in the 6th century and there are relatively few high tech plot devices, I enjoyed quite a bit.
 

Brian G Turner

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#27
I've also come across a self-published writer called Gordon Doherty, who has written a string of Roman historical fiction, and has a series based in the Byzantine Empire, named Strategos:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006LPQZ52/?tag=brite-21

The sample doesn't look too bad - just a little infodumpy - and I've put it on my wish list to explore further.
@Gordon Doherty - I just noticed that this is currently 99p on Amazon - is this a special promotion, or a long-term price point? (I know new members can't self-promote, but I'm sure you're okay to answer this question. :) )
 

Brian G Turner

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#28
James Heneage is another author who's writing historical novels about the Byzantine Empire. I tried Lion of Mistra but struggled to get into it. However, I'm going to give The Walls of Byzantium a try, even though the premise is a little dodgy, on the grounds that it appears to cover the events around the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and I'm still lacking decent coverage of that.
 
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#29
the West/Latins/Catholic Church committed, arguably, one of the most stupid mistakes in history by conducting the Fourth Crusade against it.
Speaking of which, Umberto Eco - perhaps best known for his Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose, 1980) - later wrote Baudolino (translated with the same title, 2000). The book isn't his best received, nor is it strictly historical, but the story is set in the spring of 1204 in Constantinople as the Fourth Crusade is about to topple the Roman Empire. The publisher explains: 'Amid the carnage and confusion, one Baudolino saves a historian and high court official from certain death at the hands of the crusading warriors and proceeds to tell his own fantastical story.'

Tracy Barrett's Anna of Byzantium (2000) is perhaps a more straightforward historical novel, focussed on the exploits of Ánna Komnēnḗ (1083-1153); daughter of emperor Alexios I and author of the unique work Alexiad about her father's reign. In this novel she, as per the publisher, 'will be no one's puppet. Almost overnight, Anna sees her dreams of power wrenched from her and bestowed on her little brother. Bitter at the betrayal, Anna waits to avenge herself, and to seize what is rightfully hers.'

While not a novel, the ancient historian Procopius of Caesarea (c. 500-560) saved his more scathing (and juicy) remarks for his Secret Histories. A favourite of scholars since its rediscovery, this is a work that, as Wikipedia explains: 'reveals an author who had become deeply disillusioned with the emperor Justinian and his wife, Empress Theodora, as well as Belisarius, his former commander and patron, and Antonina, Belisarius' wife. The anecdotes claim to expose the secret springs of their public actions, as well as the private lives of the emperor, his wife and their entourage.' This is, as said, not historical fiction, but it often reads like an engrossing narrative in a style familiar to readers of earlier ancient historians. The Secret Histories, like Ánna's Alexiad, is also written by someone from within the halls of Roman power. There should be plenty of translations available for free online to see if it is something you'll enjoy reading.
 
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thaddeus6th

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#31
I've read Procopius' Secret History. A failing, for me, is the entirely one-sided nature which makes it seem a little incredible [well, that and the bit he literally compares Justinian to the Devil].

I do think Justinian's overrated. He needs his wife's backbone to stop him fleeing rebellion, and was lucky to have the honourable Belisarius and venal but competent Narses to enact his grand schemes.
 

svalbard

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#32
Harry Turtledove's Videssos series is set in a world that shouts 'Byzantium'. The first 3 books are excellent.

There is Dorothy Dunnett's Spring of the Ram which tells of the fall of Trebizond. This, though, is the 2nd book in her House of Niccola series. Well worth a read in themselves.
 

Lew Rockwell Fan

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#33
I can't believe nobody mentioned what seems to me the most obvious of all:

Justinian

by Harry Turtledove
writing with the thinly disguised pen name "Turteltaub".

Byzantine history is actually his core academic expertise. It is interesting that he writes all sorts of stuff under his own name but used a pseudonym for what is the least fictional of his novels and the one most in his own field. I guess it is meant to be a sort of in joke since "turteltaub" is German for "turtledove". It is straight historical fiction with more emphasis on the "historical", in the fashion of Harold Lamb.
 

Lew Rockwell Fan

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#34
How could I forget while alluding to Lamb, not to mention:

Theodora and the Emporer

I looked at his bio on Wikipedia to be sure I had the title right, and they have it listed under "nonfiction" along with several of his other novels. I might correct that if I get feeling annoyed enough by it.
 

2DaveWixon

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#36
Perhaps marginal from the point of view of those who've been commenting in this thread, I will nonetheless mention Louis L'Amour's THE WALKING DRUM. The book's protagonist, Kerbouchard, makes his way from 12th-c. Brittany through Moorish Spain, searching for his kidnapped father; and upon learning that his father is imprisoned in Alamut, makes his way in that direction. This includes arriving in Constantinople in rags and making money and friends and enemies in the city before moving his tale onward...
I suspect most of you will find the expositions of the nearby societies more enlightening than what is presented about Constantinople.
 

Riflebird

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#39
Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road takes place in the neighboring medieval kingdom of Khazaria, and features a character who worked as a mercenary for the Byzantines. It's a short and sweet action romp that manages to pack a frankly ridiculous amount of historical detail in fast-paced scenes, without ever feeling bogged down.

Then there's Mika Waltari's The Dark Angel, set in Constantinople around the time of the fall to the Ottomans, which I haven't read but I've adored the other books I've read by Waltari, so it's definitely worth trying out.
 

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