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The Sword of Damascus (Death of Rome Saga Book Four) [Kindle Edition]

Richard Blake
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: £3.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Book Description

The fourth book in Richard Blake's brilliant series featuring Aelric, the six-century English adventurer, combines an expert's knowledge of the Roman world with intrigue, sex, black comedy and extreme violence.

687 AD. Expansive and triumphant, the Caliphate has stripped Egypt and Syria from the Byzantine Empire. Farther and farther back, the formerly hegemonic Empire has been pushed - once to the very walls of its capital, Constantinople.

All that has saved it from destruction is the invention of Greek Fire. Is it a liquid? Is it a gas? Is it a gift from God or the Devil? Or is it a recipe found in an ancient tomb? Few know the answer. But all know how it has broken the Islamic advance and restored Byzantine control of the seas.

Yes, without this "miracle weapon," Constantinople would have fallen in the 7th century, rather than the 15th, and the new barbarian kingdoms of Europe would have gone down one by one before the unstoppable cry of Allah al akbar!

But what importance has all this to old Aelric, now in his nineties, and a refugee from the Empire he's spent his life holding together? No longer the Lord Senator Alaric, Brother Aelric is writing his memoirs in the remote wastes of northern England, and waiting patiently for death. For company, he has his student, Wilfred, sickly through bright, and Brother Joseph, another refugee from the Empire. Or there's ghastly Brother Cuthbert to despise - or to envy for his possession of pretty young Edward.

Then a band of northern barbarians turns up outside the monastery - and then another. Almost before he can draw breath, Aelric is a prisoner and, with Edward, headed straight back into the snake pit of Mediterranean rivalries.

Who has snatched Aelric out of retirement, and why? What is the nature of Edward's fascination with a man more than eighty years his senior? How, together, will they handle the confrontation that lies at the end of their journey - a confrontation that will settle the future of mankind?

Will age have robbed Aelric of his charm, his intelligence, his resourcefulness, or of his talent for cold and homicidal duplicity?

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Product Description


It would be hard to over-praise this extraordinary series, a near-perfect blend of historical detail and atmosphere with the plot of a conspiracy thriller, vivid characters, high philosophy and vulgar comedy. (The Morning Star)

If you like your Dark Age stories to be, well - particularly dark - then you'll love this. (Historical Novels Review)

Blake's plotting is as brilliantly devious as the mind of his sardonic and very earthy hero. (Lancashire Evening Post)

The Sword of Damascus is fast-paced and with as much gory action as you could shake a spear at. (Driffield Times)

Book Description

The triumphant Muslim capital is the setting for the fourth in the brilliant series set in the dying days of the Roman Empire, featuring the most compelling anti-hero since Flashman.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1423 KB
  • Print Length: 433 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (9 Jun. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004ZKVF3C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • : Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #373,735 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Richard Blake is a writer, broadcaster and teacher. He lives in Kent with his wife and daughter.

For Hodder & Stoughton, he has written the following six historical novels: "Conspiracies of Rome" (2008), "Terror of Constantinople" (2009), "Blood of Alexandria" (2010), "Sword of Damascus" (2011), "Ghosts of Athens" (2012), "Curse of Babylon" (2013). These have been translated into Spanish, Italian, Greek, Slovak, Hungarian, Indonesian, and Chinese.

As Sean Gabb, he has written these novels: "The Column of Phocas" (2006 - historical), "The Churchill Memorandum" (2011 - alternate history thriller), and "The Break" (2014 - post-apocalyptic science fiction). A fourth novel, "The York Deviation" (alternate history fantasy), is awaiting publication.

He also writes for Endeavour Press. His latest historical Novel, "Game of Empires," was published on the 15th May 2015. His next in this series - provisional title: "Death in Ravenna" - will be completed in July 2015.

You can follow him on Facebook -
You can also follow him on Twitter -
His personal website is -

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars deep historical read, but at a slower pace. 21 Jun. 2011
The Sword of Damascus (Aelric) [Hardcover]
Richard Blake (Author)

Having read Richard Blakes previous books I knew that it was a book that I had to be in the right frame of mind to read, different authors have different styles.
Your Simon Scarrows, Conn Igguldens and Anthonys Riches type novels whilst containing plenty of history are written in that fast paced action style that many class as Swords and Sandals, or Blood and action. I would put Richard Blake more in the Harry Sidebottom category, Both authors who provide a fantastic rich deep historical read, but at a slower pace. The action is still there its just tempered with a bit more informative history. This is by no means a text book though, as usual for Blake there is plenty of intrigue, the characters are excellently written and the authors passion for his subject period is blatantly obvious.
If you have not read any of this series then I strongly suggest that you go back to the beginning and start there (but that's a personal preference, I hate starting a story part way through)

Mr Blake will remain on my to buy list for future titles, I recommend this for the history lovers and the swords and sandals types...Just be aware its not as pacey as some you read
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aelric conquers old age 15 Sept. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Here's Aelric as an old cleric teaching greek and Latin classes in an old monastery in Britannia, far from the turmoils of civilized world. But suddenly, the monastery is under siege and aelric finds himself once again plunged in the dangers og history. Victorious moslems are thwarted in their drive to conquer constantinople and what's left of the eastern Roman Empire by the formidable weapon calle "Greek Fire". Many factions vie for exacting Aelric's help on the matter, or at least preventing him to give it to others. And a miracolously rejuvenated aelric must again fight one actin against another to save history as we know it. Written in the usual sardonic, if at times bittersweet mood, this book is a worthi addiction to aelric's saga.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good for old aelric 7 Nov. 2011
there were times when this novel read like a clip show 25th anniverary novel bringing together the old cast and the may pages of old old aelric spending most of the time reminiscing to his mini me edward about his imperial service stories that promised better plotlines than this adventure
but i do believe the putting the 97 year old hero central stage in what to date was the best adventure was an original and excellent plot device of blakes
better charactors and villains were introduced and very good villains too but any novel without priscus is a boon despite the fact of the 97 year old hero with his wig, dentures and glasses and that he could still take out every asassin sent his way and foil the best plots much backstory was revealed and far from being a stop gap clip show this book revitalized aelric and made me want more
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Blake Does It Again 3 Oct. 2011
The Sword of Damascus
By Richard Blake

For several years now, Richard Blake has been turning out one Aelric novel every year. He began with Conspiracies of Rome, in which he introduced us to his rather nasty but engaging hero from England. Next was The Terror of Constantinople, in which he took us and his hero straight into the sewer of imperial politics. Then came The Blood of Alexandria, featuring a world of astonishing decadence, and one all the more astonishing for its rather clichéd components.

If you have kept count you will not be surprised to learn that The Sword of Damascus is the fourth in the series. It's at this point that some writers begin to run out of ideas and revisit earlier places and situations. Not so Blake; what he does is to take all his own conventions and turn them on their head.

A normal Aelric novel begins with the aged hero moaning about life as a refugee in Jarrow (why he is on the run from a Byzantine Empire he seems to have spent most of the 7th century running is something that is never quite revealed). He chats with his student Bede. He wanders about, drawing the reader's attention to the many ailments one can look forward to in extreme old age. The first chapter over, he then takes up his pen and turns the clock back perhaps seventy years, to a time when he was young and beautiful and deadly, and lustful for anyone, male or female, able to take his fancy.

The Sword of Damascus starts in the usual way. There is a raid on Aelric's monastery by savages from across the wide northern sea. But the introductory chapter, after which we normally get moved back in time, is followed by another, and yet another, and strong characters begin to emerge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Unlike the previous installments in this series, this one is recounted by Aelric in his extreme old age, as he approaches the century mark. Decades after Aelric preserved Egypt (and its grain shipments) for the Empire, and after the armies of the Caliphate rendered it all wasted effort, he spends his final years in a Kentish monastery teaching classical languages to the children of Anglo-Saxon peasants.

...Until he is sucked back once again into the politics of clashing empires.

The Umayyad Caliph Muawiya, having defeated the partisans of Ali in a civil war, reigns from the recently conquered city of Damascus. The Caliphate conceals barely suppressed political divisions, as the family and close associates of the Prophet simmer with resentment back in the Hejaz, and Muawiya creates a new aristocracy of his own from converted Greeks and Syrians. Of course the Byzantine Empire, shrunk to a core of the City and its European provinces, has its spoon in the political stew of the Caliphate. And all these factions, each for reasons of its own, want Aelric -- who once saved the City with his invention of Greek Fire -- in Damascus.

The first-person perspective, from Aelric's extreme old age, of the transitoriness of human affairs, and overshadowed by the prospect of his mortality, give this story bittersweet overtones lacking from the others.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like the Flashman papers then this is the book for ...
This is a superb first person adventure thriller set a few hundred years AD. Incredibly well told story and such a atmospheric narrative of the Roman empire in its decline. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Martin B
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
as expected
Published 10 months ago by Mr. T. S. Monaghan
2.0 out of 5 stars what happened to Aelric?
I am a fan of Richard Blake but found this instalment of Aelric's adventures not to be up to his usual standard. I love reading his books for two reasons. Read more
Published on 2 Jun. 2013 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Aelric wins again
Aelric comes up trumps once more in this fascinating series which combines a boys own joy of adventure and smut, with some pretty decent historical narative and analysis. Read more
Published on 5 July 2012 by MC
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable read
a good read,i have enjoyed the series so far, they are well written & within the bounds of possibility,i look foreward to further books from this author.
Published on 21 April 2012 by Robin Brilly
3.0 out of 5 stars OK
Not the best read. That a 96 year old can do what the 'hero' does is a nonsense. Some historical info was unknown to me so added interest but barely finished it.
Published on 15 Sept. 2011 by Keith O
4.0 out of 5 stars Specsavers sould have gone to Aelric
It is not offten that our hero is in his nineties with poor eyesight,a growing bald patch and the gradual wearing out of teeth and to quote his good self "age had crept slowley up... Read more
Published on 27 Jun. 2011 by james eves
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