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Constantinople/Byzantium

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
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Constantinople/Byzantium

Postby Margaret » Sun November 16th, 2008, 12:58 am

I've just posted a new "Medieval" section subpage for Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire at HistoricalNovels.info. It struck me how many moldy oldies were set in the Byzantine period and how relatively few modern authors have taken it on. Gillian Bradshaw has written several in this setting - she seems to specialize in settings that other authors have neglected. The most popular subject by far seems to be Theodora, the actress/prostitute who became first Justinian's mistress and then his wife. A spicy subject, to be sure!
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

Ash
Bibliomaniac
Location: Arizona, USA

Postby Ash » Sun November 16th, 2008, 3:16 am

"Margaret" wrote:I've just posted a new "Medieval" section subpage for Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire at HistoricalNovels.info. It struck me how many moldy oldies were set in the Byzantine period and how relatively few modern authors have taken it on. Gillian Bradshaw has written several in this setting - she seems to specialize in settings that other authors have neglected. The most popular subject by far seems to be Theodora, the actress/prostitute who became first Justinian's mistress and then his wife. A spicy subject, to be sure!



Thanks for doing that. I have always much more interested in the Byzantine Empire than the Roman one, probably because it seemed more exotic than the same ole stuff we learned every year in school. When I realized how much it connected to middle eastern history, that opened up a whole new area of interest as well. So I am eager to see what you have listed!

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donroc
Compulsive Reader
Location: Winter Haven, Florida
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Postby donroc » Sun November 16th, 2008, 12:02 pm

Gore Vidal wrote an excellent HF novel about Julian, the Apostate, the last Pagan Emperor.
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Bodo the Apostate, a novel set during the reign of Louis the Pious and end of the Carolingian Empire.

http://www.donaldmichaelplatt.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXZthhY6OtI&feature=channel_page

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Ariadne
Bibliophile
Location: At the foothills of Mt. Level

Postby Ariadne » Sun November 16th, 2008, 3:44 pm

Cool graphic on that page, Margaret!

Alan Gordon has set a couple of his Fool's Guild mysteries in Constantinople. Cecelia Holland's upcoming The High City is set there as well. (I hope they fix the spelling of her name on the cover.)

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Sun November 16th, 2008, 7:37 pm

Oh, goodie! A new Cecelia Holland! I always think her best novels are set in these curious, rather out-of-the-way medieval settings. I've added it to the Constantinople/Byzantium page.

I also realize I need to comb through the Ancient Rome section of the Ancient History page and move some listings that really belong on the C/B page. Gore Vidal's Julian novel is not the only one, I fear, that needs moving.

Glad you like the graphic, Ariadne. I'm in two minds about it. I love the watercolor of the city, but was debating with myself whether to replace it with a picture of Justinian's wife, the deliciously irregular Theodora. There's a Byzantine mosaic of her which is in beautiful Byzantine style but makes her look completely respectable, and also a 19th century painting that shows her lounging in golden splendor at the Colisseum. Check them out at Wikipedia, which also has a very full written entry, including extensive quotes from early sources. I suppose I could include more than one graphic on the page ...
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sun November 16th, 2008, 8:01 pm

Another Cecelia Holland! I knew she had one coming out about Eleanor of Acquitaine, but didn’t realise that there was something else in the works. CH wrote an earlier novel about Byzantium set at the court of the Empress Irene, “Belt of Gold”

Talking about older novels, here are a couple of them for you, Margaret.

Harold Lamb
“Theodora and the Emperor” (1952)

Mika Waltari
“Dark Angel” (1953) (Titled “Johannes Angelos” in the original Finnish)
One of his best. A novel about the final siege of Constantinople and its fall in 1453 to the Ottoman Turks.

Not so old
Thorvald Steen
“Constantinople:: City of Man’s Desire” (1999)
This is a story about 12th century Norse king, Sigurd the Crusader, and might possibly go into your Scandinavian section along with Michael Ennis’ novel about Harald Hardrada. “Byzantium”

Poul Anderson has also written about Harald Hardrada in his “Last Viking” trilogy, and some of that is set in Byzantium as well
1) Golden Horn
2) Road of the Sea Horse
3) Sign of the Raven
Poul Anderson has written another novel called “Rogue Sword” , a real swashbuckler set during the latter days of the Roman Empire. At least part of it seems to be set in Byzantium. Frustratingly I can’t get a decent synopsis anywhere, but I’m intrigued and have ordered a second-hand copy, so I’ll let you know when I read it. It has a hilariously bad cover :)

And a romance, but gives a good picture of life in Constantinople in 1097, as the First crusaders are encamped outside the city walls demanding entrance.
A poor Frankish knight is injured trying to get into the city, and is cared for by a wealthy widowed merchant and her household

Polly Forrester
“Jewel Under Siege” (1990)

Have you ever seen the grandiose sculpture of Lady Randolph Churchill as the Empress Theodora? Lady Randolph was something of a free spirit herself.
Last edited by annis on Sun November 16th, 2008, 8:16 pm, edited 6 times in total.

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Sun November 16th, 2008, 9:21 pm

The Lady Randolph sculpture is fun. Those Victorians were enthusiastic reenactors, if not quite on the scale of today's Renaissance Faire-goers.

Thanks for all the Byzantine suggestions (no pun intended), Annis. These will go up shortly. I ended up moving only one listing (Graves' Count Belisarius) from the Ancient Rome section. Since the new Constantinople/Byzantium page is in the Medieval section, novels set before the 476 official date for the fall of the Western Roman Empire (Constantine and Julian the Apostate, for example) will still appear on the Ancient History page.

Alan Gordon's Fools Guild mysteries are all on the Medieval 14th-15th Century page, but I see I must move them to the Medieval Angevins/12th-13th Century page, as they are set in the 13th century. Generally (though there are a few exceptions) I try to keep series novels together on the page that best reflects the overall series (with preference given to the earliest novels in the series). I also lean toward placing novels in the category that best reflects the main character's sensibility and outlook - for example, British travelers in the Middle East generally appear in the appropriate British section, not on the Middle East page. Still, it's often tricky deciding where to put a listing when it could fit in more than one category. I have resisted listing any novels in more than one category because of the huge amount of extra work involved and extra space it would take up; so many novels do overlap categories, and could often be placed in three or four different sections.

I am sure learning a lot of general history as I set up the website. Mostly shallow, but definitely wide!
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Sun November 16th, 2008, 9:29 pm

LOL about the Rogue Sword cover! Authors still don't have a lot of control over their covers. Maybe it sold more books than a more tasteful cover would have, but still ... the muscle-bound warrior looks more like a toy modeled after a children's cartoon than a person!
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

User avatar
Ariadne
Bibliophile
Location: At the foothills of Mt. Level

Postby Ariadne » Sun November 16th, 2008, 9:40 pm

The new Cecelia Holland is part five (the last volume) in her ongoing Corban Loosestrife series, which started with The Soul Thief. So if that series is already listed elsewhere on your pages, Margaret, I can understand if you'd rather move it from Byzantium. I ran into the same problem when I was organizing my latest book. I made a point of keeping series titles together, and believe Alan Gordon's series was listed under Medieval Europe even though two books were set in Constantinople. They're all in the Place/Time index under the right locales, though.

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sun November 16th, 2008, 9:48 pm

LOL about the Rogue Sword cover! Authors still don't have a lot of control over their covers. Maybe it sold more books than a more tasteful cover would have, but still ... the muscle-bound warrior looks more like a toy modeled after a children's cartoon than a person!

Yes, and how about that sultry maiden with the improbable "assets" writhing languorously at his feet!


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