Monday, April 29, 2013

The Sultan of Byzantium-Selçuk Altun

The Sultan of Byzantium

Selçuk Altun

Telegram Books, Apr 16 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9781846591488

In 1453 Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI led the defense of Constantinople against the Ottoman horde. He died in combat and the over millennium old empire died with him. However, his body was never found; leading to a mythos of the Immortal Emperor who escaped death and the beleaguered city by ship.

Over five centuries later, a thirtyish Istanbul professor reflects on his growing up as the child of a Turk and Canadian who divorced when he cheated on her. However, his look back at his child hood ends when sexagenarian Nikos Askaris meets with him to lecture him on the true history of the Byzantine Empire after the Ottoman conquest. The professor begins to research all he can on the empire until he finally ventures to the ruins of Tekfur Palace in Istanbul where he meets the Nomophylax Guardians of the Law who have kept the Byzantine throne and treasure safe in secret as decreed by the will of Constantine who died over two decades after the defeat. They give him a box in which he must find six tiles that fit the slots. If successful, he will be the next emperor if he fails he will be dead. He begins his global quest for the tile.

The Sultan of Byzantium is a fascinating deep way to tell the history and influence even today of the Byzantine Empire. Nor for everyone as the action in spite of the quest is muted, readers will relish the Byzantine heritage and historical information though that supersedes the professor’s journey as Selçuk Altun, using metafiction, provides a deep look at the once thriving empire.

Harriet Klausner

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