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Shards of Empire Paperback – December 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Medieval fantasy has proved the literary making of Schwartz, whose acclaimed last novel, Grail of Hearts, was set primarily in the Arthurian cosmos. Now this talented author turns to 10th-century Byzantium, where Leo, a poor cousin in the politically important Ducas family, has been forced into soldiering. Duped by his uncle into betraying the Emperor Romanus, Leo flees his treacherous family to go to Romanus's aid. Even in defeat, the emperor remains dignified, and he and Leo grow so close that the lad earns the royal nickname "Lion's Cub." Leo is devastated when his mentor is again betrayed, but the fate meted out to the emperor-a painful blinding that leads to his death-is made slightly more bearable for both him and Leo by the bravery and beauty of a young Jewish woman called Asherah. After Romanus dies, Leo seeks her out; several political intrigues unfold before he finds her in a land filled with labyrinthine magical caves. Their developing relationship allows for an absorbing look at the customs and prejudices of the time. The multicultural melting pot of Byzantine society also gives Shwartz a marvelous setting in which to combine various magics, cultures, religions and folklores. She paints vivid and enchanted pictures of life as perhaps it ought to have been lived in far distant, more exotic times.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Historical fantasy set in the Byzantine Empire of the 11th century, from the author of Empire of the Eagle (1993, with Andre Norton). In a.d. 1071, at Manzikert, Turkey, the Byzantine armies of Emperor Romanus face the Seljuk Turks under Alp Arslan. The Byzantine reserves, commanded by Andronicus Ducas and his young nephew Leo, desert the battle at the crucial moment; only Leo springs to defend his emperor, who is wounded and captured. Later, having been handled honorably by Alp Arslan and ransomed, Romanus finds himself the prisoner of a new emperor, Michael. Soon, treated viciously and finally blinded, Romanus dies a miserable death. Leo, too full of rage and grief to remain in Constantinople, travels east as a caravan guard and by chance meets up with Nordbriht, one of Romanus's Varangian guards and, as it turns out, a werewolf; along with Asherah, the beautiful Jewess who helped tend the dying Romanus; Kemal, the friendly Seljuk who took Romanus and Leo captive; and Meletios, a mad but impressive holy man. Now, the province of Cappadocia is menaced by new invaders, wild, brutal Turkmen Turks wholly unlike the civilized but lately dead Alp Arslan. Leo's community faces extinction--until they discover the lost entrance to an underground city, within which they will find danger, magic, and--perhaps--the means to save themselves from their enemies. The historical section at the start is decidedly superior, with a well-researched, persuasive, and engaging backdrop. Too bad Shwartz didn't simply continue, since the remainder--werewolves, magic, lost cities and all--works hard but carries less conviction. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: e-reads.com (December 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0759212988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0759212985
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,338,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Erin Gallman on March 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
The book is wonderful as a whole. I like the content andenjoy the book. However the wording is confusing. She writes in circles making me reread what I read before to figure out what is happening. I would not suggest this book to an other high school student. No college student either for that matter. This is the kind of book you read when you have time to sctarch you head and say "What the...?" then reread it again. I will read it again and maybe the third time is the charm?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Janna L. Rose on February 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
I read this book 7-8 years ago, and I have never forgotten it. Some of the images still linger in my mind, and they were rekindled recently on a month-long trip to Turkey. While there, I visited many of the historical places(even the underground city) and had a fantastic time imagining what it was like to live there. I can understand why the author chose to wrote about such an enchanting era and place. And I loved how the author wove in a powerful mysticism that veiled the female character and turned a history-based tale into something of a love story in the end.

I am now looking up the book to read again, as I have lost my copy in all my moves and travels.

I thought it was a wonderful read, and I highly recommend it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "cfg1214" on December 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book combined history, romance, adventure and myth. The story is very well written and is definatly well researched. This is probably one of the best books I've read in a long time. It's a must read.
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