This novella is a tight-rope walking, chandelier swinging, sword slashing good time filled with action and daring-do reminiscent of an Errol Flynn movie. What I say most about this book is that it is fun, fun, fun and very easy to read. Two thirds parts sword & sorcery in the vein of Fritz Lieber and one-thirds parts historical fiction, the book is a unique and pretty cool crossover between the two genres.
When I initially picked up the story, I had been reading Chronicles of the Crusades by Jean de Joinville and Geoffrey de Villehardouin (edited by Margaret R.B. Shaw) again—true chronicles of the crusades by soldiers and historians that were there—when I found myself in the same setting with West’s characters—Constantinople in the 4th Crusade—accompanied by two rowdy crusaders. So, it was timely for me and I was able to jump right into the setting with all that back ground from Lord Joinville.
Boniface and Montferrat (names you may know if you have some about the fourth crusade) are unable to pay the agreed upon price to the Doge of Venice for the Venetian fleet (and true event), the Crusader Leaders send the sword and fist-slinging main characters on a mission to retrieve a legendary treasure hidden behind the walls of Constantinople—the capital of the Byzantine empire and gateway to the Holy Land.
A most unlikely pair, the main characters are Tyr—a Northman without an ounce of Christian belief in him (unless of course it benefits him in any given situation), and Wolfram—a Templar knight of German descent. The interplay between the two is fun and engaging and keeps the reader bought into their success throughout the story. Their mission is filled with action, difficult challenges, compbat and all sorts of unexpected enemies. Although there is not a ton of character development, you would not expect it in such a short document of this genre, nor does it in anyway detract from the promise made to the reader in the early pages of the story.
The story is full of fun and excitement. It reads superfast (one or two days is all you need) and you cannot possibly regret reading this story.
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