Review of A Place Called Armageddon by C. C. Humphreys
Overview from www.bn.com:
Gregoras had vowed never to return to Constantinople, the cursed home that had betrayed and scarred not only his mind, but his face, for all to see. But now with 100,000 Muslim soldiers outside its walls, he can hear its desperate calls for his help, as it can only be held by men and mercenaries as skilled in battle as Gregoras, of which few remain.
His return home, though, will mean not only having to face the constant hum of arrow and cannon, but also Theon, twin brother…and betrayer. And with him his beloved Sofia, lost when Gregoras was cast from his home, now bound to Theon in marriage. But the rewards of victory would not only be the glories of the battle, but the redemption of his name and his soul.
A Place Called Armageddon covers an event that I have always been curious about. No, it is not the battle of Armageddon but the siege of Constantinople by the Turks. I always wondered how that came about. I assumed that it was a rather easy affair for the Turks to end the hopes of Byzantium. It turns out that I was wrong.
We are introduced into the action by our main character a Greek named Gregoras who now goes by the name Zoran. He is a mercenary who goes about wearing a mask and fights frequently for a Genoan lord (at least I think he is a lord if I remember right).
Gregoras is obliged to return to the city of his birth and his shame for the benefit of his boss as well as to earn some much-needed money. Even his attempt to collect what money he can and get out before he has to fight the invading Turks fails when, like Jonah, his attempt to leave by boat is thwarted by bad weather at sea. He is rescued by another vessel however, and that vessel is bound for Constantinople.
He finally accepts his fate and readies for the fight. Along the way he is reunited with some people from his past, including the twin brother who betrayed him years ago and is thus is mostly responsible for his banishment from the city.
Although he is discovered, his help is welcome and he readies himself to fight. Meanwhile he does everything he can to protect his loved ones inside the city in case the Greeks should fail to defend it.
Of course, a quick reading of history tells how it will end. Constantinople becomes Istanbul and falls to the Turks in whose hands it remains to this day. Thus marks the end of the Eastern Roman Empire and of an era.
The story itself is very intriguing if a little long. I liked the characters of Gregoras and John Grant. Their friendship kept things interesting.
Although I am not sure how accurate it is, I found it a fascinating read none the less. I had not realized that there were Christians who fought with the Turks as well as Muslims who fought with the Greeks. It seems that they were motivated primarily by greed rather than belief in some cases.
The only downside for me was the use of the f bomb which I found to be somewhat excessive on this. Also, I kept wondering if it would have been used so much in the times we were writing about but since I have read nothing about this event in history, I can’t say that I am right. I stuck with trying to skip over it whenever I came across it and was still able to enjoy this book. If you can do that too, then I think you might like it.
Contains: foul language, war violence, and some sexuality.