The Guardians of Byzantium by Justin Isaacs
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I read a lot of WWII historical fiction but wanted to share with you another time period, 395 AD. As part of Love Book Tours, please enjoy learning about this book. I’ve included an excerpt so you can have a little taste of what waits for you!
About the book:
The year is 395AD, Theodosius the last sole ruler of the Roman Empire is dead. The Western Roman Empire falls under the control of the Vandal General Stilicho, regent to the child emperor Honorius, whilst in the East the adolescent Arcadius comes under the control of the Praetorian Prefect Rufinus.
When the murder of the Praetorian Prefect in front of thousands of witnesses goes unpunished, the Imperial Court of the East is plunged into chaos as senators and officials scheme and connive to gain the control of the Empire. Out of the chaos rises a eunuch, ruthless, hungry for power and determined to put his troubled past behind him.
The murder also triggers an army of barbarians commanded by a Gothic King to go on the rampage through Greece unchecked. In the midst of the carnage, a farmhand and army veteran make a journey to Constantinople to raise the alarm but become entrapped in the intrigue and street politics of the city.
Meanwhile, a young ambitious procurator discovers a plot that threatens to undermine the very fabric of the Roman Empire. With the help of a Persian moneychanger and a loyal Gothic bodyguard he follows the trail of clues deep into the underworld of Constantinople, and across the sea to Cyzicus, where strange happenings in the Imperial Mint raise more questions than answers.
Events come to a head in the Peloponnese when the Western Empire lands an army to remove the barbarian hoard from Greece, but Constantinople employs a daring political gambit which causes the two halves of the empire to lock horns in a battle, both sides vying for supremacy over the whole Roman Empire.
It is in these years, that the Guardians of Byzantium are born. A secret organization that guards the Byzantine Empire and keeps it alive for a thousand years after the West has fallen to the barbarians.”
And after many torrid years, many bloody campaigns, many agonizing wounds, and many hard-earned promotions, here he was.
No, he could not quite believe it.
Inside, he was still that desperate, scrawny youth, unworthy to be mingling with the illustrii, the rulers of the empire. He was encompassed on all sides by them as they gathered on a raised dais standing on the vast, flat, sand-covered parade ground within the confines of the Campus Tribunalis at Hebdomon. One of the largest training camps for Imperial troops of the Eastern Empire, it lay seven miles from the Milion stone in Constantinople. New Rome.
From their elevated position, with the sun at their backs, the Imperial party could see in the distance, the glints from the spears and helmets of men marching along the Via Egnacia, the thousand-mile-long road from Dyrrachium to Constantinople. Where the road passed the Campus Tribunalis, the men had peeled off from the cobbled stone surface, marched through the huge gates of the camp, past the tents and barracks, along the dusty thoroughfares and onto the immense parade ground in front of the dais.
The empty road to the right wound its way towards the seventh hill of Constantinople, disappearing into the hazy distance. Gainas watched apprehensively as the parade ground filled with men. His men. Men who had been marching for days. The praepositi officers organised them neatly into their centuries, with the experienced veteran optios yelling and bellowing out orders. The general, with his practised military eye, could see that they were all tired, thirsty, and hungry.