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The Terror of Constantinople (Death of Rome Saga Book Two) (Aelric 2) Hardcover – 5 Feb 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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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 (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 693,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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

He knows how to deliver a fast-paced story and his grasp of the period is impressively detailed. (Mail on Sunday)

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)

The best historical novel I've ever read. (L. Neil Smith on Conspiracies of Rome: Death of Rome Saga Book One)

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

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the second adventure of Aelric - a good looking, vain but intelligent Briton in the service of the church in Rome (the premiere having been in Conspiracies of Rome). The author does a very credible job of bringing the 7th century Byzantium to life, with all the little (and not so little) political games, the continuation of the Roman 'panem et circenses' approach of keeping the masses in line, albeit enriched with a much more Machiavellian and dark undertone in the form of an early form of police state.

The protagonist is definitely selfish, vain and in some ways less than morally spotless individual, yet for all his failings possessed of a charm all his own, often given to bouts of generosity or insight. The readers' ability to relate to him / accept him, will be the significant determinant of whether they like the book or not.

The surroundings are definitely based on sound historical research and Aelric finds himself in Byzantium in the final days of the rule of Phocas. While the lesser historical personalities are then - as usual in such writing - occasionally fictional, the reader will still get a basic understanding of the period and issues faced at the times.

The writing is fairly conversational and modern - in the sense that it will not require any sort of adjustment for a 21st century reader to read the book. Whether this is a step too far in bringing the subject matter closer to modern readers will need to be judged by each one separately but it may very well alienate the more traditional ones.

Overall I found the book quite interesting and definitely easy to digest.
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