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The Terror of Constantinople (Aelric 2) Hardcover – 5 Feb 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; First Edition edition (5 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340951141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340951149
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 24 x 3.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,363,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Blake is a historian, broadcaster and university lecturer. 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.

He also writes as Sean Gabb. His latest novel written under this name, The Break, has been nominated for the 2015 Prometheus Award.

Product Description


Vivid characters, devious plotting and buckets of gore are enhanced by his unfamiliar choice of period. Nasty, fun and educational. (Daily Telegraph on THE TERROR OF CONSTANTINOPLE)

'A rollicking and raunchy read... Anyone who enjoys their history with large dollops of action, sex, intrigue and, above all, fun will absolutely love this novel." (Historical Novels Review on THE TERROR OF CONSTANTINOPLE)

'Fascinating to read, very well written, an intriguing plot and I enjoyed it very much.' (Derek Jacobi on CONSPIRACIES OF ROME)

'I can't resist recommending this first volume of a promised trilogy. Set during the last pangs of Imperial Rome, with a vivid account of the machinations of the early Church, it is well-informed, atmospheric and beautifully written.' (Literary Review on CONSPIRACIES OF ROME)

'It's simply the best historical novel I've ever read, perhaps short of C.S. Forester. It's a very great deal better than any of the ancient Roman detective novels I've seen.' (L. Neil Smith on CONSPIRACIES OF ROME)

Book Description

The second in the brilliant new trilogy set in the dying days of the Roman Empire, introducing the most interesting anti-hero since Flashman.

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Customer Reviews

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Selene on 26 Jan. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Constantinople in 610 AD, three hundred years after Constantine the Great took the small fishing village of Byzantium and made it the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire; the city where Europe meets Asia; the City of Man's Desire, where anything can be bought for the right price. But is the City of Gold a city of dreams or nightmares?

"Terror of Constantinople" marks the second outing for Aelric, a young Saxon nobleman transplanted to early seventh century Rome from England. Initially sent on a mission with his mentor, the priest Maximin, to collect books for the Roman Church in Britain, clever, cynical Aelric has proven a useful tool for the venal, power-hungry clerics of the Church in Rome, and is not planning on returning to his bleak, benighted homeland anytime soon.

His previous assignment as investigator and hatchet man for the Dispensator of the Church of Rome successfully completed, Aelric looks forward to settling into his nice new home in one of the few remaining suburbs of Rome still in working order. He's coining it on the trading market, collecting books by the dozen for his library, and about to marry his pretty, ditzy mistress and become a father. Life looks good.

However the Dispensator hasn't finished with Aelric yet, and blackmails him into accepting a new assignment, this time in Constantinople. Aelric soon finds that beneath its sophisticated veneer the city is suffocating in fear, controlled by a terrifying secret service which scoops up people at random on charges of treachery, sending them to torture and death in the cells beneath the sinister Ministry. Agents provocateur infiltrate all levels of society and citizens are encouraged to denounce each other at will.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Olivier LEDOIT on 25 Feb. 2009
Format: Hardcover
This energetic thriller sends us back to a time and place so different from our own (Constantinople after the fall of Rome to barbarians) - yet so eerily similar in many ways. The government gives free stuff to the poor, politicians set up games to manipulate the collective emotions of the masses, no-one is safe walking in the streets at night, the police keep tabs on every citizen, disarm them and get busy wrecking the lives of those who say the wrong thing... Sounds familiar?

Aelric is a young, smart and rather cynical Briton that gets embroiled in a web of conspiracies woven by the Church and the Emperor. He is sent by the Pope's right-hand man to Constantinople, but soon realises that his official mission is mere cover for something far more sinister and dangerous. Through ambushes, some raunchy escapades and double-games of deception, he fights tenaciously to overcome the obstacles lain in his path. His primary objective is to save his own skin. His secondary objective is to save the Empire, the Church and Civilisation itself.

Why read heroic fantasy when you can have something equally exotic set in our very own history? Through meticulous research and repeated trips to the region, Richard Blake has reconstructed an incredibly detailed, evocative and realistic universe where our hero moves with agility. This is not a time and place of which you have learnt at school: history textbooks gloss over these centuries in one line or two - yet this epoch has so much to teach us.

Some doomsayers say that our Western civilization has entered a phase of terminal decay and its fabric is starting to tear up at the seams. What would it feel like to live in an age of turbulence where politically connected elites spend more time plundering us than protecting us? Reading The Terror of Constantinople is the fun way to find out.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Layland on 30 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
A thoroughly enjoyable read. Fast paced with a great plot, it kept me up all night. Well researched and rich in historical detail, ripe with political intrigue, filled with exotic yet believable, sexy and sinister, characters, this book is moving as well as fascinating. Richard Blake, (obviously an academic, but one who knows how to write blockbusters!) has created an absorbing hero who is at once sordid and noble, beautiful and cruel. He is struggling to live and love in a time when Church and State, Barbarians and Emperor are vying to fill the power vacuums left by the fall of the Roman Empire. A cracker of a book. I can't wait for the next one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
Having come across this offering by accident, I put off reading it for a little while and to be honest regretted it after starting. Beautifully written with a cracking descriptive presence, the author really does take you back to the days when Constantinople was a power in the west. Add to the mix some characters that really made this title a joy to read with some reasonable dialogue and it was a fun adventure a bit different to my usual historical jaunt which makes this author one that I'm going to keep an eye out for.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jim Packer on 5 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
I first chanced upon the work of Richard Blake a year or so ago when perusing the recent-fiction section of a prestigious Sydney bookshop (yes, there are such things) on the scout for new entrants to the college library where I work. As I was on the final lap a novel of my own on seventh century history (yes, there are such things--and from my point of view, the fewer the better), my subconscious went into overdrive when the novel I found in my hand, lurid cover and all, proclaimed--"610 AD. The bloodthirsty emperor Phocas--"

"Christ," my subconscious said.

And then it said, "Yeah, but BLOODTHIRSTY--and look at that cover! Richard, Richard, Richard!" (for the author was, as I said, a certain Richard Blake), "--this'll be worth a laugh".

Well, as you can see from the existence of this review (and the present contents of the WEA Sydney library), Richard is still laughing.

My previous most complete experience of seventh century history had been the large and exacting biography of the emperor Heraclius by Walter Kaegi. I am eternally grateful to Walter: he got me through Heraclius' wars without having to consult a single manuscript (in ninth-century Armenian). But, alas, Walter is an academic. Richard is not. Richard is a WRITER, by which I mean, he knows how to talk to YOU, rather than to a PhD committee, or to a Professorial Board, or to the editorial director of Cambridge University Press.

This doesn't mean that Richard is capable of that lurid cover. He lives in a garden in Athens, I hear, where everything is done with the utmost taste, discretion and refinement--and no, we're not talking Petronius.
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