The Terror of Constantinople

Written by Richard Blake
Review by Sara Wilson

AD 610 and Constantinople is a dangerous place to be. Outside, enemies of the Emperor Phocas have their sights set on the city, and inside, traitors are preparing to turn their coats.

Into the maelstrom arrives Aelric, a rather cynical but ambitious young Briton, sent by the Pope’s right-hand man on the pretext of making copies of some rare texts. Quickly drawn into a web of conspiracy and counterconspiracy, Aelric soon finds out that his mission is rather more complex than he first anticipated. Soon he will be trying his damnedest just to save his own skin.

The Terror of Constantinople is the second of a projected trilogy of thrillers set in the fading years of the Roman Empire. It again features the antihero Aelric, a latter-day Flashman, or perhaps a dissolute Sharpe for the Roman era.

First and foremost this is a rollicking and raunchy read—which is not to say that the history seems in any way slipshod or overblown. Quite the contrary, in fact: Constantinople and the people therein are brought vividly to life, as are the machinations of the Church and politicians.

This may not be the ideal read for those easily offended, but anyone who enjoys their history with large dollops of action, sex, intrigue and, above all, fun will absolutely love this novel.