A powerful novel of intrigue, sacrifice, savagery and holy war, by the author of the MOSAIC OF SHADOWSand KNIGHTS OF THE CROSS.
August, 1098. After countless battles and sieges, the surviving soldiers of the first crusade are at last within reach of their ultimate goal: Jerusalem. But rivalries fester and new enemies are massing against them in the Holy Land.
Demetrios Askiates, the Emperor's spy, has had enough of the crusade's violence and hypocrisy. He longs to return home. But when a routine diplomatic mission leads to a deadly ambush, he realises he has been snared in the vast power struggles which underlie the crusade. The only way out now leads through the Holy City.
From the plague-bound city of Antioch to the heart of Muslim Egypt, Demetrios must accompany the army of warlords and fanatics to the very gates of Jerusalem where the crusade climaxes in an apocalypse of pillage, bloodshed and slaughter.
“Tom Harper writes with strident clarity in this epic tale of murder and betrayal, bloodshed and romance. Gripping from the first page, the reader is swept up in this colourful and convincing portrayal of an Emperor and his realm, under siege. Well-researched, and cinematic in its imagery, this is a fast-paced and exciting debut.”
“Tom Harper's speciality is a hitherto unvisited era in historical crime fiction- It's a world which Harper brings exuberantly to life, clearly revelling in its teeming, tumultuous extravagance.”
Yorkshire Evening Post
“Harper effortlessly draws the reader into the court intrigues and conspiracies of 11th-century Byzantium in his outstanding debut”
“Scholarly but speedy narrative, steeped in medieval horrors ranging from flogging to famine, all anchored in what feels like a passion for history and spelling out the way things were”