By Blood Divided

Written by James Heneage
Review by Chiara Prezzavento

By the late 1440s Siward Magoris, varangopoulos of Mistra and trusted officer of Emperor Constantine XI, is used to loss. His whole family is gone, his powerful grandfather Luke has exiled himself to Venice, and young Sultan Mehmed threatens what little remains of the Eastern Roman Empire. Siward fully intends to die fighting for his doomed city, until news reaches him that his grandfather has died under suspicious circumstances, and willed him only half of the family fortune—the rest going to an unknown cousin, who also happens to be an Ottoman enemy. Danger, intrigue, love, and perhaps the key to a whole new world await Siward in Venice—but what of his loyalty to Constantinople?

In this latest instalment of his Mistra Chronicles, Heneage weaves a colourful, fast-paced tale around the events going from before the Battle of Varna to the fall of Constantinople—and plays fast and loose with facts, mostly to make the Siege very much a Magoris family matter (Giovanni Giustiniani’s age and parentage come particularly to mind). An entertaining adventure, but a little far-fetched on the historical side.