`Richard Blake’ has trotted out a new Aelric novel annually for the last six years and I guess there may still be another four to come. `Blake’ clearly understands his Classics and has good knowledge of the historical period in which Aelric performs his adventures, but it would be wrong, I think, to consider these novels historically sound as some reviewers have done. While there is a basic substratum of historical fact, i.e. the crisis of the Roman Empire in the Seventh Century and its transformation into the Byzantine Empire during the reign of Heraclius, all this is simply a framework for fantastic plots of a febrile imagination. Some might simply say the stories are a complete load of nonsense.
Of course, these are novels, not non-fiction text books, and strict historical accuracy is neither to be expected or attainable; suspension of belief is necessary for their enjoyment. However, to suspend disbelief over 500 pages is quite an ask, especially in a novel concerned with Byzantine Egypt which manages to incorporate near death experiences, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, a possible guest appearance of Edward Gibbon (or is it the author himself?), a most irreverent relic pertaining to the infancy of Jesus and an episode of mass impaling which would have caused envy to Vlad the Impaler himself. The silliness is sublime.
`Richard Blake’ just about pulls it off in my opinion. As the novel spirals into fantasy in the last 100 pages or so, it also elicited a few long and sustained bursts of incredulous laughter from this reader. I am assured that laughter prolongs life and health. So, thank-you, Mr `Blake’
Published on Goodreads, 20th January 2014
© 2015, richardblake.
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