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When in the first chapter of The Byzantium Stone a Greek in post-World War I Constantinople bargains away his birthright, we understand that this strange gem will provide the impetus of David Chacko's plot. The stone is not simply a beautiful gem, but one that exhibits extreme changeability--or chatoyance. And that, too, becomes a major theme in a novel that has more changes of place and time than the reader can count.
The remarkable thing is that the flashbacks from the present to multiple locations and eras in the past do not become confusing or redundant. Chacko's story is a chameleon whose tail never breaks off in the reader's hand. We follow the plot from the island of Rhodes in 1522 to the nearby island of Kos in 1919 as if time is as fluid as the sea between those two patches of land in the Dodecanese. These events lead seamlessly to the journal of Count Adriano Sanguini as it advances the story to the present, where Samson Mondieu, the man who is hunting the Byzantium Stone, falls in love with the count's granddaughter.
A storyboard of grand proportions would be needed to track all these "changes"--if that were necessary. It's not. Samson leapfrogs continents and centuries with skill and hardly a blink of the cosmic eye. He knows by the time he reaches Italy that the Byzantium Stone is not so much an object as an obsession that has escalated through every age in this millennium, since the fall of Constantinople in 1204. And he knows that his job is to deliver the obsession--which is now the key to the future--to an obscenely rich man who will employ the stone as a lever to everlasting fame. How Samson passes the baton to the man is the most satisfying part of this very satisfying book.
The Byzantium Stone is highly recommended to anyone with a sense of the possibilities--or nostalgia--for the most exciting parts of the past.
This is my best advice for a young writer: If you want to have the time of your life, set your book in Italy. Doing the first-hand research will be one of the best experiences of your life.David Chacko See all Editorial Reviews