I recently finished Tom Harper’s first book entitled The Mosaic of Shadows. It is the first in a mystery series set in Middle Ages Byzantium.
Here is an excerpt from Publishers Weekly:
British author Harper effortlessly draws the reader into the court intrigues and conspiracies of 11th-century Byzantium in his outstanding debut. Former bounty hunter and bodyguard Demetrios the Apokalyptor (who will remind many of Steven Saylor’s ancient Roman sleuth, Gordianus the Finder) is summoned to Emperor Alexios’s palace after a mysterious assassin narrowly misses killing the ruler with an arrowlike weapon that managed to pierce a guard’s armor. The emperor’s chamberlain, Krysaphios, hires Demetrios to identify the murderer, as well as the forces behind him. The quest is imbued with greater urgency as the residents of the empire’s capital nervously anticipate the arrival of a large barbarian army, ostensible allies who may be connected with the attempted regicide.
I am really interested in this time period for historical mysteries and I think Harper did a pretty good job in this book in describing the time period and the political atmosphere. As Harper describes, the Middle Ages were a difficult time for the Byzantine Empire – they were in the beginning of their decline, but they still held some sway in the region. There was a lot of intrigue and deception for control of the throne.
The character development was good – not fantastic, but not horrible. I guess I am trying to say that you can tell this was Harper’s first book because the book did not flow well all the time. However, I think that the series has huge potential.