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A Dowry for the Sultan: A tale of the siege of Manzikert 1054 Kindle Edition
Byzantium 1054: The Seljuk Sultan prepares to fall on the Christian frontier …
Guy d’Agiles, penniless Frankish mercenary in Constantinople, enters a trap set for a Turkish spy by the wily Count Bryennius. Swept along by events, Guy is pressed into service with Bryennius’ regiment and journeys to the eastern Christian-Muslim frontier. There he encounters heroes, villains, traitors—and love—at the crossroads of the world where the future for a thousand years will be determined. An army of Seljuk Turks, after storming two Christian cities in as many weeks and laying waste to the countryside, coils around the ancient city of Manzikert, demanding submission and the surrender of its fairest daughter as a bride for the Sultan. The woman Guy loves begs him not to let the nomads have her …
A Dowry for the Sultan describes, through the story of a European mercenary who faced certain death attempting to save the city, the effect on ordinary people of extraordinary events. This wandering Frank’s adventure with its gallantry, romance and a fateful choice is set in one of the Middle East’s epochal period—the coming of the Turks to the land now named after them. The novel describes the tipping point of Byzantium and the everyday and strategic interaction of Turks, Kurds, Armenians, Arabs, Greeks, wandering Europeans and the emerging Rus civilisation based around KievTarget Audience.
This book will appeal to serious readers of history and historical fiction and should draw the attention of anyone interested in the Middle East generally, as a backgrounder to the current unravelling of the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement in which Britain and France divided the region into oil satrapies.
“… a perfectly splendid novel. The story simply rips along.” – John Julius Norwich
“You have produced a magnificent novel, with universal relevance. You have told a great story greatly.” – Paul A. Blaum
“This book is riveting. There’s pathos, there’s heroism, there’s the victory of good over evil, all the things that go into the making of a good book. And, to be fair, Lance Collins has a certain capacity for story-telling, and is a wordsmith of the highest order.” – Bishop Hilton Deakin
“It has the touch of a five act saga with the alarums, the entrances and exits, the build-up and semi anti-climax, the associations and the plotting and counter-plotting…The refugee camp and the charred ruins of Azen might have been observed in another place at another time …You handle the male female relationships with style and they become an all important element of the situation; the touching of stirrups and Leo’s plea to ‘say nothing’ are examples of very acute and timeless observations! Figures of the major players are drawn with a sureness of touch …” – John Collins – formerly of Jacaranda Press
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- ASIN : B01DNGZSD6
- Publisher : Lance Collins; 1st edition (30 March 2016)
- Language : English
- File size : 7990 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 476 pages
- Customer Reviews:
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At the time of this novel the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire was Christian and culturally and linguistically Greek. Hence its citizens and soldiers were described as both Roman and Greek which is sometimes confusing. Frankish mercenaries also feature prominently in the novel. The Franks were a Germanic people from the Western Roman Empire who eventually gave their name to the modern France. The other main characters (apart from the Turkish invaders) are the Armenians. Armenia was the first state to become Christian (late 4th Century & early 5th Century) and was absorbed into the Byzantine Empire in 1045, soon after to be invaded by the Seljuk Turks. At the time of this novel Manzikert in Armenia was a key strategic city on the eastern border of the Byzantine Empire.
Central Eurasian history is extremely complex, involving the rise and fall of empires and the waxing and waning of thousands of tribes over many millennia. Although “A Dowry for the Sultan” is set in just a short period in this vast history it has obviously required a great deal of general historical research as well as specific political and military study by the author. That shows in the authenticity of the depiction of cultural, political, military and intelligence aspects of the story. The author’s own background as a military officer and intelligence analyst shines through in the detail of strategic, tactical and intelligence operations central to the story. As a former military officer and intelligence analyst myself I greatly enjoyed that authenticity. Although the central characters brought the book alive for me that authenticity added an extra layer of enjoyment.
Apart from historical, political and military authenticity there are the wonderfully portrayed diverse characters of many ethnicities with whom we are led to intimately engage. In this book the main characters are both human and animal, for in those times horses were the main mode of transport and formed an intimate warrior partnership with the fighting man. We come to know the horses in this story almost as well as we know their owners. The author’s country upbringing and his lifelong love of his own horses shines through. The detail of the partnership between horse and rider is quite astonishing. The people however, the politicians, soldiers, townspeople and their womenfolk, and their stories, are what draw us in and hold our attention from the beginning to the end of this well told story.
The unfolding love stories set against the background of warfare in which men and women often worked and fought side by side were what got me in the end. They are beautifully told. They showed that even in times of constant political intrigue and warfare, and in times in which human life was often valued cheaply, in which rape, pillage, plunder, murder, slavery and genocide were commonplace, there was also beauty in the human relationships. These love stories are islands in an ocean of human misery for this is the story of the clearance of a countryside of its people, animals, crops and treasures by a ferocious invader, and of a fierce battle to eventually defeat him. There is much death and much misery as there was in those times, and as there is still in the Middle East today. Then as now in the to and fro of geopolitical relationships the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must.
A Byzantine officer, Leo Bryennius and his soldiers, accompanied by a Frankish mercenary, Guy d’Agiles and his small party, ride from Constantinople to Manzikert to bolster the defences of the city commanded by the Byzantine Basil Apocapes. At the time Manzikert was thought by some to be threatened by Tughrul Bey, the sultan of the Seljuk Turks, although not everyone agreed and it was therefore not adequately garrisoned to repel a determined invader. Bryennius and his men arrive after an incident filled journey to find an undermanned city garrison that would be greatly outnumbered by the Turkish army. The main story revolves around the creative and inventive intelligence operations, strategy and tactics employed by Apocapes and Bryennius to see off Tughrul Bey, and the collective and individual courage and heroism of the defenders of the city.
There is also much intrigue in the employment of spies by both sides. Accurate intelligence was an essential component of the eventual victory.
The novel began to form when the author heard of an incident in history involving the courage of a single soldier about whom virtually nothing was known. He has given Guy d’Agiles that role in the novel and woven the incident into this story. In this fictional account it becomes the key courageous event that finally defeated the Seljuk Turk army and enabled the Byzantine victory at Manzikert in 1054.
A riveting read.