Monday, January 23, 2012

Book Review: A Place Called Armageddon

Byzantium.  The very name conjures up images of Orthodox churches, mosaics--and multiple layers of convoluted schemes.

Less than seventy-five years after the fall of Rome, The Eastern Empire had regained nearly all the territory lost in the west.  However, by the middle of the 15th Century, the Byzantine Empire barely controlled the landmass beyond the walls of it's capital, Constantinople. 

On 21 May 1453, this thousand-year empire fell.

A Place Called Armageddon by C.C. ("Chris") Humphreys, is a sweeping saga of Constantinople's lasts days as a Christian empire.  Although not a sequel, characters introduced in Vlad, The Last Confession, "reprise their roles," so to speak, and find themselves on one side, or the other of the siege lines--and sometimes both.

The story focuses on Gregoras Lascaris, his reluctant return from disgrace and his relationship with his family.  A relationship that remain strained, even as the Turkish host closes-in. Chris deftly weaves fiction with historical fact that binds towering figures like Constantine XI, Memhet II and John Grant, to common soldiers, sailors, pirates, mercenaries, a sorceress--and even a cat--as the siege drags on.

Chris brings his experience as an actor and fight choreographer to the written page.  The reader is plunged into the midst of desperate assaults fought around--and even under--key positions of Constantinople's defenses, while even the "slow moments" are taught with emotion.  Reading A Place Called Armageddon, is like watching the movie Titanic, (or better yet: A Night to Remember ).  Despite knowing the historical outcome, one is compelled to read-on, to see what fate befalls the Lascaris Family and nearly 50 other minor characters, once the Theodosian Walls are breached.   

The story doesn't end happily for everyone, but it Chris ties-off every loose end, which makes A Place Called Armageddon very satisfying to read.  A definite 5-star story to add to your historical fiction collection!

A Place Called Armageddon was released last year in the UK and Canada.  It will be available in the US sometime in the fall of this year (2012).

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