Terror in the Blood-Soaked Streets of Constantinople
Terror of Constantinople is a solid sequel and a true delight for any fan of historical fiction. Set a year after the first novel, it sees our protagonist, Aelric, who is now a trusted agent of the Roman Church, being sent off to the city of Constantinople, which has been the new capital of the Roman Empire for the past three hundred years. Upon arriving there, Aelric finds that the city is in the grip of a bloodthirsty tyrant while the empire all around him seems to be falling into chaos due to foreign invasion and civil war. Aleric finds himself trapped in another conspiracy and must escape from the city while avoiding the dangers all around him.
As mentioned frequently before, Blake’s greatest strength is in bringing the world of his novels to life. In this case, Mr. Blake is able to paint a convincing and vibrant portrait of 7th century Constantinople which is in contrast to the drab and decrepit city of Rome in the first novel. He shows a city and society at the cusp between the ancient and medieval periods with its emphasis on classical learning and its fanatical insistence on religious orthodoxy. Through little details sprinkled throughout the story such as the description of the raucous and vulgar crowds in the Hippodrome to the grim descriptions of skeletons hanging in gallows along the city walls, Richard Blake makes you feel like you have been transported back in time.
There were some minor issues that I felt could have been improved upon. One of them was the pacing which often dragged at times in the middle of the story and the conspiracy itself which felt convoluted and confusing at times. These were minor annoyances, however, to what is an otherwise good piece of historical fiction. I look forward to reading more of Aelric’s adventures in the dark and chaotic world of the Seventh Century.
Review published on the 20th December 2016
© 2016 – 2017, richardblake.
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