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An amazing and wonderful look at a magical past
on June 14, 2015
Umberto Eco writes "mysteries" that are amazingly ponderous but in which events unfold at a galactic pace and with little suspense. Dan Brown is spectacularly good at creating movement and suspense but spectacularly bad at capturing and recounting actual facts.
Altun is not as constipated as Eco, not as brainless as Brown. He offers a different look at things.
This novel postulates that Constantine XI, the last Byzantine emperor, did not die in the siege of 1453, when Constantinople, the last capital of the Roman empire, was captured by the Ottoman Turks. Constantine fled, hoping to take his city back and re-establish his empire. His hopes came to naught, but his line continued and carried his dreams forward.
Our protagonist turns out to be a descendant of Constantine's family and is facing a potential appointment as the Byzantine ruler in exile. He must learn in detail the history of his predecessors and explore places that preserve Byzantine history and spirit after hundreds of years of occupation.
This book is extraordinarily rich in symbolism that all points toward the unity or shared experience of the Byzantine and Ottoman worlds. The protagonist is sexually active with two women at a time (Rome and the Ottomans). His kingly status is recognized by lions in the zoo.
The story is wonderful exploration of the Byzantine world and how much of it remains hidden beneath the surface of the modern world.
This is an extraordinary exploration of the world beneath our world, a world that exerts unseen power on ours. I want to read it over and over again.