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Two for Joy: A John, the Lord Chamberlain Mystery (John, the Lord Chamberlain Series Book 2) [Kindle Edition]

Eric Mayer , Mary Reed
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This is a very intelligent novel; its examination of the nature of belief and faith (and deception) is as insightful and well reasoned as some book-length nonfiction treatments of the same subjects. Add to that a rich and fascinating setting, a solid mystery, and a few surprises, and you have a novel that will capture the interest of anyone who picks it up. --Booklist (starred review).

It is now two years after One for Sorrow. John the Eunuch, Emperor Justinian's Lord Chamberlain, must discover why Constantinople's holy stylites are bursting into flames as they stand atop their pillars. A pagan philosophy tutor and a heretical Christian prophet handicap his investigation. Then murder strikes too close to home and John has only a few days to save the city.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This sequel to One for Sorrow continues the sixth-century adventures of John the Eunuch in the bustling, intrigue-filled city of Constantinople. The authors successfully create a setting in which Christianity, now the dominant religion under Emperor Justinian, is not only challenged by other beliefs but contested from within by competing factions. John, a former student and slave risen to the lofty but precarious position of Lord Chamberlain, is at storm center. First, Justinian charges him with investigating the fiery deaths of several "stylites"Dholy men who live alone atop pillars. Three of the stylites appear to have burst into consuming flames. John is sent along with his friend, Senator Flavius Aurelius, to meet with Michael, a prophet proclaiming a "quaternity" rather than a trinity of Christian godhood. Michael, who's attracting a growing following, claims to have foretold the stylites' deaths. It's punnish but apt to describe the plot as byzantine. Competition between rival chariot teams threatens to erupt into riots. Michael and his movement could prove a danger to the empire. The whims of Theodora, Justinian's powerful and ruthless wife, threaten more disruptions. The murder of a friend, imprisonment of another and the machinations of Justinian, Theodora and Michael combine to test John's ingenuity and resolve to the utmost. Fascinating historical details help compensate for an overly complex and sprawling story line, but the relative ignorance within the general mystery readership about this historical period could limit sales. (Dec. 7)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Fans of Roman-era mysteries (like Lindsey Davis' extremely popular Marcus Didius Falco series) are in for a real treat. This one, the sequel to One for Sorrow (1999), is set in and around Constantinople, in the Byzantine Empire, during the reign of Emperor Justinian. When three men are burned to death during a rainstorm--talk about your suspicious circumstances--John, the Emperor's Lord Chamberlain, is sent to the Shrine of Saint Michael, where a disturbing group of pilgrims, led by a man who also calls himself Michael, has set up camp. This new-age prophet is predicting that terrible (but unspecified) things will happen if he is not granted an immediate audience with Justinian. Is Michael a crackpot, or does he possess genuine divine powers? Or is he, perhaps, merely a murderer? This is a very intelligent novel; its examination of the nature of belief and faith (and deception) is as insightful and well reasoned as some book-length nonfiction treatments of the same subjects. Add to that a rich and fascinating setting, a solid mystery, and a few surprises, and you have a novel that will capture the interest of anyone who picks it up. If the perfect historical mystery is one that uses the past to let us see the present from a new angle, then this is darned close to being the perfect historical mystery. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 513 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 189020837X
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 1st edition (May 25, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0015ACHJ6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,071 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Series runaway December 26, 2000
Format:Hardcover
Back for his second mystery is John the Eunuch, Lord Chamberlain to the Emperor. The mystery takes place in Constantinople during the reign of Justinian and Theodora. Two for Joy is an impressive mystery about roman courts, religion, miracles, respect, heartache, loyalty, and friendship.
John has his hands full when a former teacher/pagan philosopher appears unannounced at his door and wanders into trouble more than once; A trio of stylites (Holy men) simultaneously burst into flame while on their pillars; Anatolius, John's friend and secretary to the emperor, puts together a banquet for his father that turns tragic; and a Christian prophet's sermons and miracles bring both peace and chaos.
Christianity, Paganism, and Mithraism are weaved throughout this roman mystery. Ecliptic, colorful characters fill the pages - some returning from the first mystery. The historical details are substantial and informative without being confusing, and the added bonus is a glossary at the back. Two for Joy maybe part of a series, but it held it's own, and references to the last mystery, One For Sorrow, did not read as spoilers.
In starting Two for Joy, I found there was no stopping. The intriguing mystery, genuine characters, and historical quality captivated me. Two for Joy is a historical whodunit that will keep its readers in place until the last page is turned.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! February 27, 2001
Format:Hardcover
This book is an outstanding mystery with plot turns as intricate as Byzantium's court intrigue and with such seamless detail the reader cannot tell what is fiction and what history. I call it amazing because the reader is not only swept into the larger currents of life as the old gods fell to the new but also such minute detail, one is living it with the characters. The pacing is excellent for an exciting read and the sense of place beautifully crafted. I seldom read historical mysteries; I'm delighted I made an exception here. Mari Ulmer, Taos, NM
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent historical mystery December 9, 2000
Format:Hardcover
Everyone living in sixth century Constantinople is shocked when three stylites sitting on their perches suddenly go up in flame. Caesar Justinian assigns Lord Chamberlain John to investigate. John finds little evidence that explains what happened. However, he eliminates spontaneous combustion from within the bodies of the dead men as an option as the corpses' insides were not roasted.

The Emperor sends John to meet with a heretic, Michael, at the healing Shrine of Michael. John is shocked when Michael demands more than just an audience with Justinian I. Michael wants to be named the Patriarch and the Emeperor's co-ruler. John wonders if Michael is linked to the deaths of the three stylites since the latter boasts of a cleaning fire. John continues his inquiries as Michael's fame and following grow geometrically and are becoming a threat to Caesar.

TWO FOR JOY is a powerful and insightful look at the Roman Empire through a mystery that brings to life the capital, its ruler, and its people. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with a feel for the era. John is everyone's favorite eunuch as his star shines in this novel like it did in his delightful debut (see ONE FOR SORROW).

Harriet Klausner
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flames on the Bosphoros February 22, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This time John must divine the cause of stylites suddenly bursting into flames. Is it a godly punishment for blasphemy or the work of sinister plotters? John, Lord Chamberlain in sixth-century Byzantium, must solve the mystery, save his friend Anatolius from execution, keep the city from being destroyed by a panic stricken populace and keep his own head from being detached from his body.
Mary Reed and Eric Mayer bring Justinian and his empress Theodora to life though John's eyes: "Caught unawares, she was simply a short attractive woman, her complexion carefully lightened by chalk, her deep set eyes accentuated by artful application of kohl, as if she depended upon enticement to work her will, rather than command." Theodora sees herself as the power behind the throne and John must step carefully as he serves Justinian and protects the empire.
As in the previous volume, the authors take us to the shores of the Bosphoros and present life in the ancient city. Philo, once John's instructor at the Athens academy, incidentally introduces a board game called shatranj: ". .. something to do with trapping your opponent's king." This sort of historical color, along with the mystery, make this series an entertaining read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Byzantine intrigue and murder March 26, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I finished the second book in the John the Eunuch series yesterday, and by the end, I couldn't put it down.

It was a fairly long tale, and in it, John is ordered to investigate the deaths of three stylites, who seemed to spontaneously combust while sitting atop their pillars. They seem to be linked to pronouncements from a holy man named Michael, and this Michael is promising more deaths and further troubles for the city and its ruling class if his demands are not met.

As the deaths mount, John seems to be the only one who believes fully that 1.) they are linked, and 2.) they are the acts of human rather than divine hands. His investigations are made more difficult by the Empress Theodora, who for reasons of her own hates John. Indeed, John's very life, and the lives of those he holds dear, may be at stake as he conducts his inquiries.

It was a compelling read right to the end, and I was fully drawn into the settings of the city and the character of the folks who populate this setting. Plenty of little backstory information is presented, making the reader (me, in this case) want to get to the next book of the series. Historical mysteries are not usually in my sights as reading material, but I certainly enjoyed this one, even more than its predecessor.
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