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One for Sorrow: A John, the Lord Chamberlain Mystery (John, the Lord Chamberlain Series Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Mary Reed , Eric Mayer
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
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New Adult Fiction by Rainbow Rowell
Acclaimed author Rainbow Rowell's latest book, Landline, offers a poignant, humorous look at relationships and marriage. Learn more

Book Description

Byzantium, capitol of the 6th century Roman Empire, simmers a rich stew of creeds, cultures, and citizens with a sprinkling of cutthroats and crimes. John the Eunuch, Emperor Justinian's Lord Chamberlain, orders a Christian court while himself observing the rites of Mithra. Thomas, a knight from Britain, Ahasuerus, a soothsayer, and two ladies from Crete stir up events and old memories for John, who must ask how the visitors link to the death of Leukos, Keeper of the Plate. An Egyptian brothel keeper and a Christian stylite know more than they are telling....

In due course, John gets his man - and a love scene....

"One of the best little known series" --Booklist


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Painting an enticing picture of sixth-century Byzantium, Reed and Mayer ably evoke court intrigue and the conflict of religious beliefs in the Christian capital of Constantinople. The sleuth is John the Eunuch, lord chamberlain to Emperor Justinian. When the body of Leukos, the Keeper of the Plate, is found in a filthy alley behind a house of ill repute, the emperor asks John to investigate. John obliges because, as Leukos's friend, he can't imagine what a devout Christian such as Leukos was doing in a whorehouse or who would have wanted to murder the kindly man. The obvious suspect is an old, itinerant soothsayer. But again, John can't fathom why his friend would be courting pagan practices such as having his fortune told. Oddly, after John talks to him, the old man vanishes, rumored to have drowned in the sea while trying to flee the city. Another suspect is a knight from King Arthur's court on a quest for the Holy Grail. After the soothsayer disappears, however, Emperor Justinian seems suddenly cool to John's efforts to pursue evidence against other possible culprits. John's investigations are further hampered by the sudden appearance of his ex-wife and a daughter he did not know he had: years earlier, John had been captured and sold into slavery, forever separated from his wife and emasculated by barbarians. Their prose suffers from affected archaisms, but the authors gracefully intertwine John's personal history and the traffic in holy artifacts with the early history of Christianity. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Okay, onto recent reads. I finished up ONE FOR SORROW by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer, and loved it! And I'm just a novice at historical mysteries, my first dip into the waters being Dianne Day's wonderful THE STRANGE FILES OF FREMONT JONES. Anyhow, John the Eunuch is a marvelous character, no less noble (or perhaps moreso) despite his lack of, uh, family jewels. The research that obviously went into SORROW is apparent, but facts, settings and people are seamlessly blended into the storyline. If you're a fan of history and mystery, do NOT miss this one, guys. If you're like me and hesitant to read historical mysteries but think you might want to try one, get SORROW. My God, the gorgeous red cover alone is worth the price and the writing won't let you down either!
--Susan McBride, The Charlotte Austin Review

"Byzantium, the heart of the Roman Empire in the 6th century, contains a rich mixture of old gods, deadly rituals and Christian doctrine. Justinian rules the land as a Christian Emperor, yet The Lord Chamberlain, one of the most honored in his court, holds fast the traditions of Mithra, an ancient religion that honors the great bull god. The Lord Chamberlain, also known as John the Eunuch, is a man of loyalty, to his Caesar and to his faith. When his friend is murdered, the quest to discover his killer leads John down a trail full of twists and turns that challenge him to examine his beliefs, his past and even his deepest fears.
One for Sorrow captures the horror of the mutilation of John’s body as well as the maiming of his soul. When he once again faces the woman he loved long ago, and the daughter he never knew he had, John also has to face his own deeply buried desires. At the same time, he cannot forget that a murderer is walking the streets of Byzantium. Who is the killer? Who will be next? And what part does a peculiar ancient soothsayer play in the strange events that swirl around John like a troubled sea of confusion and death?
The authors weave an intricate tapestry of characters and plot along with a fascinating look into the day to day life of the Byzantine Empire. There is even a mysterious knight who claims to have been dispatched from King Arthur to search for the Holy Grail of Christ, making this a mesmerizing mix of fact and fantasy that serves to make the story even more absorbing.
Mary Reed and Eric Mayer originally introduced John the Eunuch through several short stories, and have now brought him out as a full-time ancient sleuth. One for Sorrow is a novel that is hard to put down. The authors are superb artists who paint a well-presented mystery with the colors of a civilization that seemed shrouded in history until viewed on their life-like canvas.
I whole-heartedly recommend this novel for any mystery fan. A second novel Two for Joy is set to be released by Poisoned Pen Press in October 2000, with the paperback edition of One For Sorrow. I can hardly wait.
Nancy Mehl, © 2000 The Charlotte Austin Review "

"In Byzantium, Lord Chamberlain John the Eunuch looks forward to the end of the current festivities. Since he is in charge of the events, John publicly attends as many as possible. Though his stomach and head reel from bad food, rank animal odor, and sweat, John shows up at the Hippodrome with several friends to watch a lithe woman leap onto a bull. John realizes the performer is his former lover from a time before his current condition.
Distracted John forgets to talk with his colleague Leukos the Keeper of the Plate. The next day, John finds Leukos murdered by a dagger near the Inn of the Centaurs. John makes inquiries and realizes several obvious suspects exist. A King Arthur knight from England and fellow worshiper of the bull God of Mithra, Thomas admits having met with Leukos only yesterday. Leukos recently visited the popular soothsayer Ahasuetus of Antioch. Then there is Kaloethes and his wife, greedy owners of the inn where Leukos died. However, as he continues to investigate the killing, John also seeks to find his former love.
One For Sorrow is a historical mystery that should excite fans of the sub-genre. Mary Reed & Eric Mayer provides readers an incredible and enlightening look into the sixth century reign of Emperor Justinian. John is a great protagonist whose hard past continually surfaces in the present. The support cast augments the rich story line with even more depth so that the audience can feel even more of the era without slowing down the interesting who-done-it. Readers will clearly want more tales starring John and his cohorts who make history and mystery fun.
Harriet Klausner, Copyright© 1999 BookBrowser. All rights reserved"

"By nature, the historical mystery genre offers a wealth of opportunity for creative settings and characters. From Steven Saylor we have Gordianus the Finder, a clever detective in the ancient Rome of Pompey and Crassus. From Lynda S. Robinson, we have Lord Meren, the Eyes and Ears of Pharaoh in ancient Egypt. And now, joining these ancient sleuths we have John the Eunuch, the Lord Chamberlain to Emperor Justinian in sixth century Byzantium. Previously featured in short stories, authors Mary Reed and Eric Mayer have released their first novel, One for Sorrow, featuring this unusual and intriguing character.
John is a middle-aged man who holds an important position in Justinian's Christian court; he is sort of like today's Chief of Staff. While Christianity has overtaken much of the empire, John is still a quietly practicing Mithraic. John is not a eunuch by choice; in fact, he still longs for his lover from years ago. When he tells his sad tale to a new friend, it is both horrifying and compelling. Even though he might seem to have lost some of his “manliness,” John is a trusted and wise figure under the emperor, and is portrayed here as fully able to protect and defend.
The plot of One for Sorrow revolves around an unexplained murder. One of John's closest friends, Leukos, Keeper of the Plate (think treasury official) has been killed in a dirty alleyway. Could someone have murdered him for a precious religious relic? (Saints' bones and chalices seem to be everywhere.) A newcomer from Bretania seems to believe so.
Thomas, a knight from the court of King Arthur has journeyed to Constantinople to search for the Holy Grail. He is one of the last people to have spoken with Leukos before his death. John seems to trust the hearty soldier, but he appears too often in John's path for it to be coincidence. Then there is the ancient soothsayer Ahasuerus, who has been making a name for himself reading fortunes. Even the Empress Theodora may have been one of his clients. Why would Leukos, a professed and seemingly devout Christian, be visiting this fortuneteller at the run-down Inn of the Centaurs? And what about the brothel near the Inn? Was Leukos visiting a woman before he was murdered?
As John delves further into Leukos' final days, the path seems to split in many directions. Why does the Patriarch Epiphanios seem to be interfering in the investigation? And why does the murder of a young prostitute at the brothel seem to be tied in to the first murder as well?
For readers who enjoy historical fiction written by knowledgeable authors, One for Sorrow won't disappoint. In fact, the glossary at the back of the book will be essential for many of us who missed some classes in ancient history. For example, the unusual holy men called stylites play a role in this tale. And typical expressions from this period such as “Owls to Athens” are also explained in this glossary.
Even better, Reed and Mayer are able to create an interesting cast of characters and well-crafted plot. People like the stylites, the Madam, and palace servants are believably drawn and developed. And of course the bull leapers (women from John's past) are a fascinating and unique addition, and also add to John's character development. (Unfortunately, they disappear rather abruptly, one of the novel's weak points.) Certain events also help to flesh the story out, such as an ancient Mithraic ceremony in which John's friend Anatolius is initiated into a higher rank of the ancient religion.
In the end, most readers will come away from One for Sorrow finding they enjoy the company of a clever eunuch. As the authors plan to continue John's stories, we can look forward to spending more time with an interesting new addition to the historical mystery world -- John the Eunuch.
--Martha Moore, The Mystery Reader, 11/8/99"

Product Details

  • File Size: 416 KB
  • Print Length: 313 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 1st edition (May 25, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0015ACGQ0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,132 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best historical mystery February 10, 2000
Format:Hardcover
Byzantium, the heart of the Roman Empire in the 6th century, contains a rich mixture of old gods, deadly rituals and Christian doctrine. Justinian rules the land as a Christian Emperor, yet The Lord Chamberlain, one of the most honored in his court, holds fast the traditions of Mithra, an ancient religion that honors the great bull god.
The Lord Chamberlain, also known as John the Eunuch, is a man of loyalty, to his Caesar and to his faith. When his friend is murdered, the quest to discover his killer leads John down a trail full of twists and turns that challenge him to examine his beliefs, his past and even his deepest fears.
One for Sorrow captures the horror of the mutilation of John's body as well as the maiming of his soul. When he once again faces the woman he loved long ago, and the daughter he never knew he had, John also has to face his own deeply buried desires. At the same time, he cannot forget that a murderer is walking the streets of Byzantium. Who is the killer? Who will be next? And what part does a peculiar ancient soothsayer play in the strange events that swirl around John like a troubled sea of confusion and death?
The authors weave an intricate tapestry of characters and plot along with a fascinating look into the day to day life of the Byzantine Empire. There is even a mysterious knight who claims to have been dispatched from King Arthur to search for the Holy Grail of Christ, making this a mesmerizing mix of fact and fantasy that serves to make the story even more absorbing.
Mary Reed and Eric Mayer originally introduced John the Eunuch through several short stories, and have now brought him out as a full-time ancient sleuth. One for Sorrow is a novel that is hard to put down.
Read more ›
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive historical whodunnit! October 16, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Fascinating new series. Roman Empire - 6th century. The authors have generously included a map and glossary. John the Eunuch must solve the murder of his friend Leukos, Keeper of the Plate. After stumbling upon his body in an alley, John finds himself on the path to solving it. The authors tell a candid tale of whodunit when they write about the Roman Empire and a lifestyle their protagonist was forced to live in his time. The reader will meet many impressive characters and experience the authors' historical knowledge of Roman times and the different religions. I believe there are enough characters and twists to keep the reader's interest. Historical mystery readers will be thrilled to have another Roman mystery series.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Muder in Byzantium November 26, 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you like the ancient Rome centered mystery novels of Lindsey Davis, John Robert Maddox, and Steven Saylor and want to try a different locale, read "One for Sorrow". It takes place in sixth-century Byzantium and takes place in the streets, docks, cisterns, and Great Palace. Scenes occur at the Hippodrome, the Church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia), and even atop a column with a stylite. While this ancient capital is officially Christian, Mithraism and Egyptian religions influence the tale. Details of life in the capital of the Eastern Empire include references to Kollyba, Liquamen, and even an early type of organ, the Hydra.
The hero is John the Eunuch, once a mercenary but now Lord Chamberlain in Justinian's court who seeks to solve the murder of the Keeper of the Plate. Bodies turn up and John seeks to find the answer that ties together a soothsayer, a red headed knight from Britain, and the victims while protecting his former lover (from before the incident that gave him the appellation) and daughter.
Mary Reed and Eric Mayer provide a great detective story set in a different time and place. The copy I read from Poisoned Pen Press was crisply printed with a very readable type setting. It includes a small map of Byzantium and ends with an 8 page glossary (in case you don't know who Zeuxippos was).
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXCITING NEW MYSTERY SERIES January 15, 2001
Format:Hardcover
Mary Reed and Eric Mayer's One For Sorrow kicks off one of the most entertaining, thought-provoking new mystery series I've read in a long time. It takes place in 6th Century Byzantium, is rich with period detail and character. The main character, John the Eunuch, is the Emperor's chief advisor, a job that requires intelligence, tact and guile; many a chief advisor for the Roman emperor has had his head removed from his body for not accommodating his boss.
The second in the series, Two For Joy, is a treat as well. You don't have to be a fan of historical mysteries to like this book or this series. (I'm not, in particular). You just have to like well-written mysteries with terrific plots, even better characters and a depth of texture and detail that makes many, many other novels seem anemic by comparison.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity. January 18, 2012
By Marj
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
John is the High Chancellor, a man (or actually, a eunuch) in a position of power, raised in status from that of slave. He has quite a history, we gather from the intriguing hints given, but that is all there are - hints of the past. In this story, he finds an ex-lover, and discovers he has a daughter he never knew of, but instead of exploring this theme, he appears to forget all about them for a chapter or two, and the relationship between them is never explored. I feel the story of John's past and present would be far more interesting than what we have - a mystery with a few twists, the writing somewhat disjointed in parts, though with occasional flashes of brilliance. An exploration of John himself could have been a great book, which is why I have headed the review, 'A Missed Opportunity.'
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my type of story
This isn’t really my type of story. It’s a historical mystery set in Byzantium, capitol of the 6th century Roman Empire. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Audrey J. Shaffer
5.0 out of 5 stars One, only one
I thought it had promise, sadly the main character doesn't fulfill expectations as an investigator. The secondary characters are merely sketches. Not wirth following the series.
Published 3 months ago by Maria Nalegach Romero
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring book
This book is a poor read. There was little excitement and I felt this was a 21 century person point of view not a early medevil person point of view,. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Warstephen
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful series
The entire series has been on my Keeper Shelf since I read them. And I've gone back and read them more than once. I'm now very happy to have them for my Kindle. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Valerie A. LaMont
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Finish
Just not my kind of book. I bought because of an upcoming trip to Istanbul, so was trying to get a feel for the history. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Umba
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Read
I read this book first and continued in numerical order. This really isn't the first book in the series. Read more
Published 18 months ago by sharlee
2.0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment
I love historical mysteries, and I've spent the last year devouring all kinds of them. I had very high hopes for this particular novel because its setting should be colorful and... Read more
Published 19 months ago by John C. Wood
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I am a big fan of historical mysteries and this one just couldn't compare with others I've read. At times the prose was awkward and the historical detail inaccurate.
Published 19 months ago by BEK
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad.
"One for Sorrow," originally published in 1999, is the first book in a mystery series set in sixth-century Constantinople. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Zeldock
4.0 out of 5 stars Better Than Average
This first volume of an ongoing series is merely the beginning of a series encompassing a larger arc of history and mystery. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Rhubarb
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