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James Heneage created the successful bookshop chain Ottakars and co-founded the Chalke Valley History Festival. Walls of Byzantium is his first novel. He lives near Salisbury.
A select band of soldiers led by Luke Magoris are given the mission of persuading Tamerlane to defend Constantinople. The great conqueror must turn his forces to the West to fight the Ottomans, who otherwise would destroy Constantinople and the Byzantine empire. Luke, torn away from the woman he loves and all he knows, is trained as a Mongol warrior to impress Tamerlane and his army before joining his fellow Varangian guards, descendants of the men who once brought a vital treasure out of Constantinople. It is this treasure, some say, that can still save the empire - uniting the Christian churches of the east and west in one final triumphant crusade to smite the Ottomans. No longer an innocent patriot, Luke is caught in the crossfire and begins to question if his mission is honourable - or whether those who sent him have the best interests of Byzantium at heart. The Towers of Samarcand is a powerful historical novel full of lively characters and enthralling scenes of battle, wealth, beliefs and trade in a part of the world torn by the clash of empires.
This sweeping historical novel is shaped by the quest for a mysterious relic, guarded through generations, and by one man that might yet save the threatened Byzantine empire. In an age of clashing empires, dark forces from the east are endangering the first light of the western Renaissance. It is an age of ruthless rulers, divided churches, fractured dynasties and intrepid traders. It is an age of great cities like Venice and Constantinople; an age of conquerors like Tamerlane who will drown the world in blood; an age when only a hero of exceptional gifts can make a difference. Luke Magoris is that hero. Born the son of one of the Varangian guards who had sworn to keep the secret relic safe, he will find himself committed to a long journey to discover - and try to avoid - his destiny. He will travel from battle to trading fortune, from horse dealing to captivity, and to the love of three very different women and the unrelenting enmity of two remarkable men. The Walls of Byzantium is the first of a series that will leave you impatient and longing for the next.
This remarkable, sweeping historical novel, rich in story and character, is shaped by the quest for a hidden treasure, rumoured to bequeath riches beyond belief and guarded by successive generations of famed warriors. Fifteenth-century Europe: a time of warring states and ruthless growing empires, divided churches and dynamic traders. In the midst of growing unrest, rivals battle for this treasure, each desperate to secure its power for their own nations. But no-one can discover its whereabouts; nor even knows if it is still in the possession of those born to guard it...Four remarkable characters from four leading families provide the story as their crossed allegiances, plots and passions are played out on this epic scale. Yet the private lives are there too, and in castle and church, in siege and on battlefield, the love, fear, violence and reluctant loyalty to creed or destiny propel the characters to their fates.