Place Called Armageddon: Constantinople 1453

Place Called Armageddon: Constantinople 1453

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by C.C. Humphreys
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The storyline grips the audience as we learn why some from side come to fight (or defend) like Venusians, Achmed the farmer and John Grant the Scot....each character adds depth to a vivid picture in which armchair fans will believe they are witnessing the siege of Constantinople from within and outside circa 1453." - The Mystery Gazette

"Oh man, Humphreys has me by the first page of the prologue!... Overall, it's a sad story with its Cain and Abel, youthful love versus mature, life's dramas that will twist the path you follow." - Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

"A great historical fiction for those that like seeing history through those that were there!" - A Bookish Affair

"The author did a great job of researching and accurately writing about the events leading to this place in history. Even though the book was long it didn't feel like it because it was fast paced and very interesting." - Paranormal & Romantic Suspense Reviews

"Even knowing the outcome of the battle I kept feeling as if it might change as I turned the pages. And I was turning them very quickly. Mr. Humphrey had a way of getting inside the heads of his characters so the reader was there too. His descriptions allowed for a true feeling of place which was good - until the battles started and then I was right in the middle of it. I didn't want to be there but I had Gregoras with me and he was a good man to lead the way through a fight." - Broken Teepee

"Definitely recommended for historical fiction lovers (those love reading a good battle, or two. Or three). It's worth the read, with rich interesting characters, with a fantastic setting." - Okbo Lover

"Humphreys' skill with historical fiction is apparent on every page, and his ability to handle the large cast without tripping up readers is impressive. While the conquest is a foregone conclusion, Humphreys creates suspense and empathy for both sides of the conflict. Readers will enjoy reading a little-heard tale." - Publishers Weekly

"Overall this was an excellent book and a extremely interesting topic. If you are fan of the genre you will not be disappointed, and if like me you are new to it, you couldn't ask for a better introduction; especially with such a great writer like Humphreys.
" - Book Him Danno!

Humphreys creates suspense and empathy for both sides of the conflict. Readers will enjoy reading a little-heard tale

It has a little bit of something for everyone - great characters, vivid details, the strengths and weaknesses of everyone, historical background, and everything bundled up in a fast-paced work of fiction.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402280856
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
06/04/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
480
Sales rank:
1,136,943
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 8.56(h) x 1.26(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

— PROLOGUS —

6 April 1453

We are coming, Greek.

Climb your highest tower, along those magnificent walls. They have kept you safe for a thousand years. Resisted every one of our attacks. Before them, where your fields and vineyards once stood, are trenches and emplacements. Empty, for now. Do you expect them to be filled with another doomed army of Islam, like all the martyrs that came and failed here before?

No. For we are different this time. There are more of us, yes. But there is something else. We have brought something else.

Close your eyes. You will hear us before you see us. We always arrive with a fanfare. We are people who like a noise. And that deep thumping, the one that starts from beyond the ridge and runs over our trenches, through the ghosts of your vineyards, rising through stone to tickle your feet? That is a drum, a kos drum, a giant belly to the giant man who beats it. There is another...no, not just one. Not fifty. More. These come with the shriek of the pipe, the seven-note sevre, seven to each drum.

The mehter bands come marching over the ridge line, sunlight sparkling on instruments inlaid with silver, off swaying brocade tassels. You blink, and then you wonder: there are thousands of them. Thousands. And these do not even carry weapons.

Those with weapons come next.

First the Rumelian division. Years ago, when you were already too weak to stop us, we bypassed your walls, conquered the lands beyond them to the north. Their peoples are our soldiers now-Vlachs, Serbs, Bulgars, Albanians. You squint against the light, wishing you did not see, hoping the blur does not conceal-but it does!-the thousands that are there, the men on horseback followed by many more on foot. Many, many more.

The men of Rumelia pass over the ridge and swing north toward the Golden Horn. When the first of them reach its waters, they halt, turn, settle. Rank on rank on the ridgeline, numberless as ants. Their mehter bands sound a last peal of notes, a last volley of drumbeats. Then all is silent.

Only for a moment. Drums again, louder if that were possible, even more trumpets. Because the Anatolian division is larger. Can you believe it? That as many men pass over the hilltop again and then just keep coming? They head to the other sea, south toward Marmara, warriors from the heartland of Turkey. The sipahi, knights mailed from neck to knee, with metal turban helms, commanding their mounts with a squeeze of thigh and a grunt, leaving hands free to hoist their war lances high, lift their great curving bows. Eventually they pass, and then behind them march the yayas, the peasant soldiers, armored by the lords they follow, trained by them, hefting their spears, their great shields.

When at last the vast body reaches the water, they turn to face you, double-ranked. Music ceases. A breeze snaps the pennants. Horses toss their heads and snort. No man speaks. Yet there is still a space between the vast divisions of Rumelia and Anatolia. The gap concerns you-for you know it is to be filled.

It is-by a horde, as many as each of those who came before. These do not come with music. But they come screaming. They pour down, and run each way along the armored fronts of Anatolia and Rumelia. They do not march. They have never been shown how. For these are bashibazouks, irregulars recruited from the fields of empire and the slums of cities. They are not armored, though many have shields and each warrior a blade. Some come for God-but all for gold. Your gold, Greek. They have been told that your city is cobbled with it, and these tens of thousands will hurl themselves again and again against your walls to get it. When they die by the score-as they will-a score replaces them. Another. Each score will kill a few of you. Until it is time for the trained and armored men to use their sacrificed bodies as bridges and kill the few of you who remain.

The horde runs, yelling, along the ordered ranks, on and on. When at last it halts, even these men fall quiet. Stay so for what seems an age. And that gap is still there, and now you almost yearn for it to be filled. Yearn too for the hush, more dreadful than all those screams, to end. So that this all ends.

And then they come. No drums. No pipes. As silent as the tread of so many can be.

You have heard of them, these warriors. Taken as Christian boys, trained from childhood in arms and in Allah, praise Him. Devoted to their corps, their comrades, their sultan. They march in their ortas, a hundred men to each one.

The janissaries have arrived.

You know their stories, these elite of the elite that have shattered Christendom's armies again and again. In recent memory alone, at Kossovo Pol, and at Varna. As they swagger down the hill, beneath their tall white felt hats, their bronzed shields, their drawn scimitars, their breastplates dazzle with reflected sunlight.

They turn to face you, joining the whole of our army in an unbroken line from sea to sparkling sea. Again a silence comes. But not for long this time. They are waiting, as you are. Waiting for him.

He comes. Even among so many he is hard to miss, the tall young man on the huge white horse. Yet if you did not recognize him, you will by what follows him. Two poles. What hangs from one is so old, its green has turned black with the years. It looks to you what it is-a tattered piece of cloth.

It is the banner that was carried before the Prophet himself, peace be unto him. You know this, because when it is driven into the ground, a moan goes through the army. And then the second pole is placed and the moan blends with the chime of a thousand tiny bells. The breeze also lifts the horsetails that dangle from its height.

Nine horsetails. As befits a sultan's tug.

Mehmet. Lord of lords of this world. King of believers and unbelievers. Emperor of East and West. Sultan of Rum. He has many titles more yet he craves only one. He would be "Fatih."

The Conqueror.

He turns and regards all those he has gathered to this spot to do his and Allah's will. Then his eyes turn to you. To the tower where you stand. He raises a hand, lets it fall. The janissaries part and reveal what you'd almost forgotten-that square of dug earth right opposite you, a medium bowshot away. It was empty when last you looked. But you were distracted by innumerable men. Now it is full.

Remember I told you we were bringing something different? Not only this vast army. Something new? Here it is.

A cannon. No, not a cannon. That is like calling paradise "a place." This cannon is monstrous. And as befits it, it has a monster's name. The Basilisk. It is the biggest gun that has ever been made. Five tall janissaries could lie along its length. The largest of them could not circle its bronze mouth in his arms.

Breathe, Greek! You have time. It will be days before the monster is ready to fire its ball bigger than a wine barrel. Yet once it begins, it will keep firing until...until that tower you stand on is rubble.

When it is, I will come.

For I am the Turk. I come on the bare feet of the farmer, the armored boot of the Anatolian. In the mad dash of the serdengecti who craves death and in the measured tread of the janissary who knows a hundred ways to deal it. I clutch scimitar, scythe, and spear, my fingers pull back bowstring and trigger, I have a glowing match to lower into a monster's belly and make it spit out hell.

I am the Turk. There are a hundred thousand of me. And I am here to take your city.

Meet the Author

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys was born in Toronto, lived till he was seven in Los Angeles, then grew up in the UK. As C.C. Humphreys, Chris has written seven historical fiction novels. The first, 'The French Executioner' told the tale of the man who killed Anne Boleyn and was runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers 2002. Its sequel, 'Blood Ties', was a bestseller in Canada. Having played Jack Absolute, he stole the character and has written three books on this '007 of the 1770's' - 'Jack Absolute', 'The Blooding of Jack Absolute' and 'Absolute Honour'- short listed for the 2007 Evergreen Prize by the Ontario Library Association. All have been published in the UK, Canada, the US and translated into Russian, Italian, German, Greek and Czech

Chris lives in Vancouver, Canada, with his wife and young son.

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Place Called Armageddon: Constantinople 1453 4 out of 5 based on 3 ratings. 167 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I figured I should post a 5 star review to offset some of the morons posting 1 star reviews just because this free book doesn't cater to their tastes. Since when did the center of universe shift to your position? Just because it's not something you're interested in doesn't mean it's 1 star crap. Tastes, as you might know, vary tremendously among the 6 billion people on this earth. Idiots. 
otterly More than 1 year ago
After I started reading this, I wondered why I had chosen a book primarily about one of the great battles of history. It is not just about the battle itself, but some of the men who fought, and their different countries, as well as being somewhat of a love story too. It is interesting to learn how the defenses were planned, and what medieval weapons were used besides bow and arrow, and cannon. The battle plan is fascinating, and one can learn a little of the geography of Constantinople, and the surrounding area. Though it is a long book, I felt that it was worthwhile.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great read! My only issues with this book were I am not so sure that people in 1453 knew what the f-word was and although I am not well versed in the Muslim faith, I thought it prohibited homosexuality. The book did not go into detail about the homosexuality between the characters, but it eluded to it. The use of the f-word made the book seem more modern that what the time period was for; although it was not used many times I felt it could have been left out. On a whole this was an awesome read & I loved the fact that some of the main characters were based on real life warriors that fought in the fall of Constantinople!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I actually read the book. It was a little hard to get started, but once he started introducing the characters, Mr. Humphries made me want to read more. His descriptions of the peple, the attitudes, the emotions of the time were entrancing. The love of these people for their great city of Constantinople enticed me to actually do some research, which is very rare for me, as I am a lover of fiction, not true history. This was a book of fiction, based very strongly on history. It was not biased toward one religious belief or the other. It presented all sides as consisting of human being. I really did like the book. And I must say that if you didnt read it because of a typo, then you probably have more of a problem than most.
BrianIndianFan More than 1 year ago
Sometimes, a good way to learn about history is to read a fictionalized account and glean history's lessons while being absorbed in a good story. C.C. Humphreys has managed to take a deep topic like the fall of Constantinople and make it a compelling story. This is a deep story with a lot of action -- when you open the book and you're given a "Dramatis Personae" before you start. It's a deep list which even includes a cat (which does factor into the story at the end). Many historical figures, such as Constantine XI and Mehmet the Turkish sultan are included as well as others whom I would imagine are composite or fictional characters as necessary to advance the story. For nearly 1000 years the followers of Mohammad had made many attempts to conquer the city of Constantinople and had failed, mainly due to the construction of multiple walls to keep invaders at bay. Mehmet's development of a large cannon designed to breach the walls, along with his thousands of soldiers and sailors leads him to believe that this may be the time that Allah shines down on him and allows him to take the city. As for Constantine XI, he comes to the throne as a result of a dispute with his brother over succession to the throne, a dispute which is settled - ironically - by Mehmet's father Murad II. He is shown working tirelessly to maintain his hold on the city and in this book is shown to be the hard-working, seldom-sleeping leader in a crisis. His eventual death is portrayed accurately and even the genesis of the legend that surrounds him to this day is mentioned. The real gist of the story centers around the Lascaris twins Theon (elder) and Gregoras. Like many male twins, they are rivals from the jump, with Theon being the more erudite while Gregoras is the fighter. As our story opens, Gregoras is living in exile from Constantinople, having been accused of treason and saved from death by his brother but only after the younger twin's nose has been cut off. Theon is also married to Gregoras' crush Sofia.  Hanging around the edges of this story and making herself felt most everywhere is the sorceress Leilah (whom I immediately imagined looking like Alex Kingston from Doctor Who and ER). She is seen giving a prophecy to Mehmet and his advisor Hamza Bey about the fall of the city. She also becomes part of Gregoras' story as they have mutual interests which give them a reason to work (and sleep) together. Both before and after the story, Humpheys ties everything together. At the beginning, he sets the stage for you, giving you an introduction to the major players and the significance of Constantinople. Afterwards, he has an Epilogue and a "Historical Note" that lets you know what became of the major players, both real and fictional. Humphreys even includes a dictionary at the end of the book for unfamiliar terms...too late for me, as I was constantly hyperlinking to Google to find out what he was talking about. FOR PARENTS: Due to the amount of cursing (and curses) as well as descriptions of sexual situations, in my opinion a parent or guardian should read this book before letting their child read the book. The battle scenes are described in non-gory detail but the insults lobbed between characters may give some parents pause. You know your children; my advice is designed to avoid any surprises or uncomfortable situations. BOTTOM LINE: A great starter kit to understanding the fall of Constantinople.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"For I am the Turk. I come on the bare feet of the farmer, the armored boot of the Anatolian...I clutch scimitar, scythe, and spear, my fingers pull back bowstring and trigger, I have a glowing match to lower into a monster's belly and make it spit out hell. I am the Turk. There are a hundred thousand of me. And I am here to take your city." ...And so begins C.C. Humphreys' take on the Turk siege of the (mostly) Greek-held Constantinople in 1453. This is actually a very good book. The attractive, war-oriented cover belies the true nature of author C.C. Humphrey's ability to blend historical fact and exuberantly descriptive narrative, into a well-conceived and terrifically executed piece of historical fiction. There's plenty of action, but the battles are set-pieces built around a foundation of historical world building. It's not perfect. While Humphreys spends a good amount of ink to paint flesh on the bones of his key characters, they never truly come to life. Some elements of the interpersonal conflicts muddy, rather than enhance, the plot. If I had the choice, I'd give this 3.5 stars, but because I've enjoyed the book so much, and feel more enlightened about the famous siege of Constantinople in the mid 15th century, I'll edge up 'A Place Called Armageddon' to 4 stars. In 1453, the Greeks had already found themselves an island surrounded rivals; Constantinople's enormous walls on one side, the waters of the Bosporus protecting the other three. Attacked throughout the years, Constantinople had managed to survive as a Christian outpost at this continental crossroads; this unique location had been the primary reason for their remaining semblance of autonomy and independence. But Sultan Mehmet brought to bear an overwhelming army that forced the leaders of Constantinople to rally christians from across the Mediterranean. Friends and foes alike. Conflicts abound within the walls of Constantinople, as Humphreys exposes the cross-Christian rivals as well as the expected enmity between Christian and Turk. The differences and similarities across the people who come together to fight for and against each other is one of the staple themes threaded throughout the story. Humphreys interweaves this theme within the narrative, but exposes it a little too heavy-handedly at times. I found a similar trend in how he deals with the obligatory 'love-connection' between two long-lost lovers thrust together in this time of world-changing events. In a terrifically written naval battle in the Bosporus under the great walls of Constantinople, Humphreys skillfully shifts between viewpoints to effectively evoke the multiplicity of action, it's impact on civilians, the warriors themselves, as well as the running political ramifications. C.C. Humphreys has created a worthy entry into the world of historical fiction...and he's covered a specific time and place without much competition. I strongly recommend 'A Place Called Armageddon'.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was really impressed with this book. well told story with characters one can relate to. worth reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Place Called Armageddon is a novel of history that tells of the siege of Constantinople in 1453. The story is told from the side of the invaders as well as the defenders. As plans of the Turks unfold to wrest control of this city away from the Christians personal stories of key characters evolve. Mr. Humphreys has a talent of painting picture with words. My attention was grabbed from the first pages and held through the last. I enjoyed witnessing the evolution of the characters on both sides of the city walls as war strategies were planned and carried out. Yes, this is a lengthy novel. Yes there are many characters. Yes there are words used that were unfamiliar. But the way the story is told, I had no trouble keeping up with the characters. I learned some new words and I enjoyed every chapter. Everyone knows not to judge a book by its cover. I discovered that you should also not judge a book by the negative comments it receives on reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Several weeks ago I "purchased" this title when it was a Free Friday offering. When I first started reading it, it was slow. Slow to the point that I put it down and went on to do other things, forgetting about it. About a week ago, I picked it up, deciding to finish reading it. I'm really glad I did. Once I got past the slow intro to the characters, and we arrived at Constantinople it got interesting fairly quickly. Humphreys spends much of the time prepping us for things to come. It's a fact that the city fell, so that's no surprise (If it is, why are you reading this book?). He then gives us the minutest of details in the actual battle itself. Maybe it's just me, but as I was reading this book, I had visions of his descriptive narrative popping into my mind. I really saw the city. I really saw the people's dress. I really saw the carnage. This is something I don't always get when reading a novel. There is an epilogue in the end which tells us what happened to all the fictional characters, as well as a Historical chapter which tells us what happened to the real life people. While this was great. It's also sad in a bit because it suggests to me Humphreys won't be revisiting this world any time soon with a sequel. If you are interested in historical novels, the Middle East, or a combination of the two, I highly recommend picking this title up! (I've placed another of his novels, Vlad, on my Wish List - which I use to remind myself of future books I'm interested in reading).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed book. Interesting characters
pegsPS More than 1 year ago
This was a compelling story. Well written and an accurate representation of history.
Larry3putt More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended. Excellent story line. Quite a bit of history to learn or revisit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good historical fiction-it makes me want to find out more about that time in history and that city The characters were very real and the wtiting very descriptive Reading this book was like watching a movie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did receive this as a Free Friday book and it has easily become one of my favorites! I didn't think it would be my genre even though I do love historical fiction. I just didn't see how a whole book could be written around a siege of a city in a way that wouldn't be boring or completly filled with blood & gore. But I didn't realize that Humphreys had done his research beautifully and created a story with diversely captivating characters on both side of the famed walls of Constantinople. I did have to slow down & even put the book down for a few days as I was very ill and couldn't process all the information at that time. But I had to pick it up again once my fever was gone as I couldn't stop thinking about the characters and the city itself. If you have not read the book at all or did read some but did not like the genre, please do not post hasty negative reviews! I am thrilled to have discovered this author and am purchasing his Vlad novel soon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The critics who so quickly found fault with this novel probably expected romance right from the start and never got beyond thirty or so pages. They also might not have understood the almost poetic description in the beginning of the book of how the Turkish army will conquer Constantinople. There is love and hatred, goodness and evil as in all wars and much cruelty. It is very important to acquaint oneself with all the characters listed in order to truly appreciate the people fighting for their cause. I enjoyed the novel, and it piqued my curiosity to do some research into the fall of Constantinople. Thank you B&N for making this a free book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry but I was looking for a historical adventure, not historical sex. Seriously graphic sex scenes in the first few chapters. I guess I'm out of the loop.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writer's style is engaging. I find myself enjoying the story, but I'm only a third of the way through. What I've read so for I'd rate at 3 1/2 stars, but lacking the choice I've rated it 4. I hope I'm not disappointed.
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Second time reading this. Book got more out of it second time around.Great historical novel about the fall of constantinople told from both sides the Greek and the Turk,exciting and informative,treachery,faith romance,loyalty,bravery all in this great read,you can't go wrong with this read.And I bought mine not free so read before giving 1 star and reviewing so everyone can decide for themselves if you don't like delete
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A pleasant piece of historical fiction, easy to read, interesting and dimensional characters. Not bad at all.
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