Justinian [NOOK Book]


From one of the nation's leading Byzantine scholars comes a fictional look at the vicious reign of Justinian II, Emperor of the Romans in the seventh century and one of history's most desperate and brutal rulers. "Turteltaub's rich blend of fact and fiction brings the tyrant to life, " says "Publishers Weekly."

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From one of the nation's leading Byzantine scholars comes a fictional look at the vicious reign of Justinian II, Emperor of the Romans in the seventh century and one of history's most desperate and brutal rulers. "Turteltaub's rich blend of fact and fiction brings the tyrant to life, " says "Publishers Weekly."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Turteltaub may be "the pen-name of a well-known writer" in Southern California, but his or her main character here needs no such disguise. Justinian II, Emperor of the Roman Empire in the seventh century, ruled the Christian world from Constantinople amid intrigue, treachery, revolt and murder. This vivid historical novel puts the reader by his side as he governs the empire with an iron hand and a bloody sword. Justinian tells this ancient tale of high drama and action through a journal, read now by a monk long after Justinian's death and interspersed with comments from his longtime companion and bodyguard, Myakes. When Justinian assumes the throne at age 16, his empire is imperiled by barbarians on all frontiers and by threats of rebellion within. Byzantine (literally) conspiracies and rivalries, and treason among his friends and enemies, especially his own family, test his youthful ability. When he fails to heed the warnings of his few true friends, he is overthrown, mutilated by having his nose cut off and exiled across the Black Sea. Ten years later, clever alliances and good luck put him back on the throne, and his thirst for revenge is all-consuming. Turteltaub's rich blend of fact and fiction brings the tyrant to life as a man obsessed with imperial power, which he achieved through brutality and bloodshed. (Aug.)
Library Journal
While not as well known as his namesake, the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, Justinian II certainly bears investigating. Treacherous, vicious, driven, and self-serving, Justinian took the throne in 685 at the age of 15. Overthrown in 695, he was cruelly mutilated and exiled across the Black Sea, where he languished for years with his bodyguard Myakes as his only companion. Although the bulk of the story is told from Justinian's point of view, the more interesting bits are found in the asides by Myakes, who, after the death of his emperor, was blinded and sent to a monastery. In spite of lengthy and tedious descriptions of military campaigns and an underpopulated cast of characters, the reader is drawn into a Byzantine world where the glory of God and the glory of earthly power are two sides of a glittering gold coin. Turteltaub is the pseudonym of sf author Harry Turtledove. Recommended for larger fiction collections. [For a new sf book by Turtledove, see The Great War, reviewed in the SF & Fantasy column below.--Ed.]--Jane Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312871666
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 4/1/2010
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 640
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

H. N. Turteltaub is the pseudonym of a well-known novelist who is also an accomplished historian of the ancient world.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2000

    Marvelous historical fiction

    This story explores the metamorphosis of Emperor Justinian II from loveable, eager child, through passionate adolescent, thence immediately to spiteful tyrant. It paints a vivid portrait of the court life of Constantinople, as well as the hardships of exile in the eastern hinterlands. Justinian is portrayed as a colorful character of unwavering determination and incredible self-absorption. This book maintains a nice pace despite its bulk of historical detail.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2000

    Sadly, it didn't work as well as it might have.

    Nicely done historical, but the protagonist was such an unpleasant sort that it was hard to care about him or his times. Turtletaub's literary approach was actually quite sophisticated and, well, literate. But the adventures of this unpleasant Byzantine tyrant were nothing to get excited about -- unless you like cruelty & sadistic, mindless vengeance, which seems to have been Justinian's forte. I for one was left rather cold and had to force myself to finish the tale. Frankly, I'd have liked to see and hear a bit more about the Khazars who seem to have been a much more interesting group of fellows, especially as they went on to have a very significant influence upon the area -- and the world (if certain scholars are to be believed). This Justinian fellow, on the other hand, was just a minor annoyance on the Byzantine body-politic, having left nothing but a record of his unprecedented dual reign and the viciousness which characterized his mind-set. -- S. W. Mirsky

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