Trebizond is a city on the coast of the black sea in what is now Turkey. Its modern name is Trabzon. In 1060 it is a substantial provincial capital but far from the Byzantine Imperial throne in Constantinople. We meet the son of the ruler, Theodore, when he is a young man who falls in love and marries a young noble woman from the Danube region. Eirene’s family wished her to marry a certain Andronicus, the Emperor’s nephew, but are persuaded to change their mind. This is good for love but places Theodore at odds with Andronicus. All is well for many years until the Turkish hordes arrive and start attacking the empire.
So we have two tales here – Eirene trying to survive and keep her children alive and get back home, and Theodore searching for them but also concerned with the Turkish threat. There are battles aplenty and lots of action. It is well presented, and there are two excellent maps and comprehensive notes. The pace is good and there are some interesting characters here. Theodore is the likeable hero, Andronicus is a true villain but the Viking Ragnar is probably the most fun.
My criticism in that there is some head-hopping where the point-of-view switches frequently between individuals; the author is often striving, it seems, to give us every participant’s perspective of the same scene. A good editor would sort this out, and that final polish would be well worth it as overall this is a very readable book.