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The storm is upon us, Haga. The answers you seek dance within its wrath....
In 1071 AD, Emperor Romanus Diogenes has rekindled the guttering flame of Byzantium. Yet in the eastern borderlands, two vital strongholds hang in the balance. Manzikert and Chliat must be won to secure the empire's fragile frontiers and vanquish the would-be usurpers who covet the imperial throne. But Sultan Alp Arslan and his vast Seljuk armies look to those twin fortress-towns also, resolute on seizing them first. Apion rides by the emperor's side as they march east, marshalling Byzantium's armies for the conflict that is to come. He knows only too well that the threat posed by the Sultan's hordes is well-matched by malevolent forces within the Byzantine ranks. Thus, the road to war is a savage one, but one he cannot refuse. For at its end, Fate beckons, taunting him with a choice of two futures. On the plains of Manzikert, one great power will rise and another will fall. On the plains of Manzikert, Apion will face the storm.
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The beginning of the end for an Empire
Gordon Doherty completes his Strategos trilogy in the same manner it started - well researched and historically details, providing a background for an engaging story. The story takes us to the Battle of Manzikert, which in 1071 saw the first major defeat of the Byzantium Empire after a couple of centuries of expansion. While the Empire eventually recovered and continued for several centuries after this, with varying levels of growth and decay, this was a major blow of it causing the loss of a large section of the Empire and creating decades of unrest.
The last 20 minutes of the audioobook are actually Doherty providing details on his research and what he modified - he admits where he compresses timelines or skips things for the sake or the story. He has also exaggerated some historical characters, particularly the 'villains' of the story, to increase the tension and build the story.
The story is interesting and well told. It also provides a solid ending for Apion's story.
There is potentially a reliance on the heroes being undermined by their own men, rather than their own failings. For example at one point the Strategos is given an impossible choice to make, neither strategically good. But he creates a third option that would work except that he is unknowingly betrayed and the option fails to nothing, forcing the decision of one of the bad choices. I felt like Doherty used the third option and the betrayal to cover over the historicity of the character/army making a bad choice. Like he couldn't allow for his character to have this be his fault. But Doherty explicitly talks about one of the other betrayals in his historical section stating that it really happened, so maybe this one did and I'm reading too much into it.
Narration by Rob Goll is good. While I enjoyed Nigel Carrington's narration of book one more but Goll is good for books two and three. Goll is clear and well paced, easy to follow. He has a strong British accent that suits the story well, as a British accent is standard for Greek/Roman/Byzantium stories. He separates character voices, to varying degrees. It's never difficult to follow who is talking and what is going on within a scene.
I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.
3 people found this helpful
- Daniel Abrams
Corruption is Painful
First, let me just say that I've loved this whole series! The era, anything to do with the Roman Empire (even distantly) is fascinating. Gordon Doherty obviously did extensive research in order to to capture things as he has here. The combat, the landmarks and cities are all expressed so that I felt like I was standing next to Apion. The writing is superb. The story is enthralling, and frustrating where and when it is meant to be. I strongly recommend this book.
At my request, this audiobook was given by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an -->unbiased<-- review
2 people found this helpful
- kc jost
first I must say I was given this book for free and in no way does that influence my review.
I am hooked. This series is gripping in twists, turns, deciept and honor. The mystery keeps you searching for answers, but the honor displayed by some stirs sonething inside each and every one who listens to this book. From great battles that leave you breathless to the love and the loss portraied you won't be able to stop listening.
Fabulous book in a fabulous series.
2 people found this helpful
And so the Haga's story ends..or does it?
This, the final book in the Strategos trilogy, was for me the best. Gordon Doherty’s brilliant writing reached an even higher level with the Battle of Manzikert fought on August 26 in the year 1071 as the backdrop. The first two books and this one lead up to that one important and inevitable battle between the Byzantum and Alp Arslan’s Seljuk empires.
Apion, at this stage of his life is a hardened soldier and a military strategist. His importance to Emperor Romanus Diogenes has grown. Yet though all the planning, the treachery in Constantinople continues, and the inevitable battle must take place.
In the Seljuk empire, the Sultan Alp Arslan has also faced challenges among his own. He is presented as not so different from the Byzantine emperor he will ultimately face. Alp Arslan is a complex character, well written by Doherty. I felt a great deal of sympathy with and respect for his actions.
The Byzantine army, unfortunately, is affected by gold-bought deception and the desertion of its ranks. Apion and Diogenes finally stand back to back as the islands in the storm suggested by the title.
This book was emotional on so many levels, Aprion faces so many trials: loss, his revenge-sworn son, guilt, and the ultimate choice at the end of the road his future will take.
The Crone, an otherworldly character who has been a device for foreshadowing has been used brilliantly by Doherty in the previous novels and in this one no less as she provides closure for both Apion and the reader/listener.
Doherty again manages to take this turbulent period in time and while not downplaying the horrors of war, also brings to light the human story, one of love, family, friendships, and honor. I have not yet been able to leave this story and its characters behind.
I listened to the audio version of this novel. Again, Rob Goll is able to provide differentiation of characters with his vocals, consistency of accents makes it easy to distinguish each one throughout. His strength, though, is his ability to make us feel emotion. We cringe at the horror and despair of this violent time, and relish in the love, honor and friendships that are sustained. His dramatic reading produces a cinematic effect for the listener.
I highly recommend all three novels in The Strategos series.
1 person found this helpful