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The Terror of Constantinople (Aelric) Paperback – July 1, 2011

Book 2 of 4 in the Aelric Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Vivid characters, devious plotting and buckets of gore are enhanced by his unfamiliar choice of period. Nasty, fun and educational."  —Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Richard Blake is a lecturer, historian, broadcaster, and writer.
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Product Details

  • Series: Aelric (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (July 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034095115X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340951156
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,712,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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4 star
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See all 7 customer reviews
Like any good spy novel, Blake's work offers many layers of intrigue.
Kevin A. Carson
It is highly entertaing and I recommend it and look forward to the final book in the trilogy.
Bob Jarvis
I would recommend this book to anybody interested in historical fiction.
Davey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Selene on January 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Constantinople in 610 AD, three hundred years after Constantine the Great took the small fishing village of Byzantium and made it the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire; the city where Europe meets Asia; the City of Man's Desire, where anything can be bought for the right price. But is the City of Gold a city of dreams or nightmares?

"Terror of Constantinople" marks the second outing for Aelric, a young Saxon nobleman transplanted to early seventh century Rome from England. Initially sent on a mission with his mentor, the priest Maximin, to collect books for the Roman Church in Britain, clever, cynical Aelric has proven a useful tool for the venal, power-hungry clerics of Rome, and is not planning on returning to his bleak, benighted homeland anytime soon.

His previous assignment as investigator and hatchet man for the Dispensator of the Church of Rome successfully completed, Aelric looks forward to settling into his nice new home in one of the few remaining suburbs of Rome still in working order. He's coining it on the trading market, collecting books by the dozen for his library, and about to marry his pretty, ditzy mistress and become a father. Life looks good.

However the Dispensator hasn't finished with Aelric yet, and blackmails him into accepting a new assignment, this time in Constantinople. Aelric soon finds that beneath its sophisticated veneer the city is suffocating in fear, controlled by a terrifying secret service which scoops up people at random on charges of treachery, sending them to torture and death in the cells beneath the sinister Ministry. Agents provocateur infilitrate every level of society and citizens are encouraged to denounce each other at will.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bob Jarvis on May 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are some great reviews on these pages that provide enough insight to the historical settings and general plot of the book, so I will restrict myself to more particular observations.
First and foremost for me was the hugely entertaining narrative that Blake presents. The book is written in the first person so we hear all of the events through the commentaries of the acerbic, witty & cynical Aelric. He has a refreshingly blunt view of life and describes his circumstances and adventures accordingly. For the most part his comments and conversations are pricelessly funny. I do wish though that the author had been a little more careful to keep his descriptions in 7th. Century speak. His references to pregnancy as "putting her up the duff", going to sleep as "crashing out" and, perhaps most heinous to me, Aelric asks his attendants on a couple of occasions to "bring a takeaway". Hope it wasn't Pizza Hutt!
This is a who-dun-it and I have to say that for the most part I was even more confused about what was going on than the hapless Aelric. Sadly, as he cleverly gets to the bottom of affairs and ties up loose ends at the end of the book, he wasn't quite clever enough to make things clear to me. I remain equally confused now. Not Mr Blake's or Aelric's fault, I am probably too dumb to keep up. I did feel that the whole conspiracy concept for the book, concerning Aelric's assignment, was a little on the weak side.
Also have a sleight beef that our principle hero is a little too larger than life. He is quickly transformed from minor clerk, to Acting Permanent Legate (#2 in the Constantinople catholic church hierachy) and then to Commander in Chief of the defence of the entire city. Really! He is unbeatable in a sword fight, or a brawl, and I half expected him on a couple of occasions to whip off his tunic to reveal his Superman outfit!
However, I really do like this book. It is highly entertaing and I recommend it and look forward to the final book in the trilogy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ventura Angelo on April 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
610 B.C: the erudite Aelric is sent to Constantinople on a mission whose terms are utterly obscure, in a city awaiting siege by (to say nothing of Slavs and Persians)a general, future Emperor Heraclius, who rebelled against the bloody Emperor Phocas, the Caligula of those times. Aelric finds himself trapped among incomprehensible intrigues between Popish and Byzantyne authorities; to them,he, soon realizes, is only a disposable pawn. His most important mission becomes essentially to return home alive. Among the cruelty of inmmperial agents and the deviousness of functionaries, only Aelric's wits can help him.
A real page turner, an historical thriller for once set in an unusual epoch. Only flaw: is the author sure there were shopping malls with annexed restaurants in Constantinople, 610 A. D.? Apart from that, a worthy read!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kevin A. Carson on September 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
The book, Blake's second, is set in early seventh century Constantinople. Although a play-by-play of all the plot permutations would take up a story's worth of space in its own right, the general outline can be summarized fairly simply. Kentish scholar Aelric, the hero of Blake's earlier novel, is commissioned by the papacy on what is officially a research junket to Constantinople aimed at scouring the patristic literature for theological ammunition against the Arian minority in Spain--and unofficially a quiet diplomatic mission to secure the Emperor's recognition of the Pope as as supreme head of the Church.

The environment into which he is thrown is suggested by Aelric's description:

"According to what I've picked up on the Exchange, ...the Danube frontier has collapsed and Slavs are pouring into the Balkans. The Persians have invaded Mesopotamia and may already be in Syria. The Exarch of Africa is in revolt against the Emperor, and his people have taken Egypt. These are all converging on Constantinople and it's an open bet who will get there first. Whoever does get there will find an emperor who is incompetent for every purpose but murdering anyone who might have some ready cash to steal, or who may have given one of his statues a funny look."

The imperial capital is torn by struggle between the papacy and the emperor, between the emperor and the Exarch of Africa, and the Machiavellian maneuvers of the old eunuch Theophanes (a high official to the Master of Offices--in contemporary terms something like chief of staff to the chief minister) to play all the factions against one another in pursuit of his own shadowy agenda.
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