Shards of Empire

Susan Shwartz, Author
Susan Shwartz, Author Tor Books $23.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-85716-5
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Mass Market Paperbound - 455 pages - 978-0-8125-4817-4
Paperback - 396 pages - 978-0-7592-1298-5
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-7592-1297-8
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-306-58941-3
Ebook - 396 pages - 978-1-4976-1114-6
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Medieval fantasy has proved the literary making of Schwartz, whose acclaimed last novel, Grail of Hearts, was set primarily in the Arthurian cosmos. Now this talented author turns to 10th-century Byzantium, where Leo, a poor cousin in the politically important Ducas family, has been forced into soldiering. Duped by his uncle into betraying the Emperor Romanus, Leo flees his treacherous family to go to Romanus's aid. Even in defeat, the emperor remains dignified, and he and Leo grow so close that the lad earns the royal nickname ""Lion's Cub."" Leo is devastated when his mentor is again betrayed, but the fate meted out to the emperor-a painful blinding that leads to his death-is made slightly more bearable for both him and Leo by the bravery and beauty of a young Jewish woman called Asherah. After Romanus dies, Leo seeks her out; several political intrigues unfold before he finds her in a land filled with labyrinthine magical caves. Their developing relationship allows for an absorbing look at the customs and prejudices of the time. The multicultural melting pot of Byzantine society also gives Shwartz a marvelous setting in which to combine various magics, cultures, religions and folklores. She paints vivid and enchanted pictures of life as perhaps it ought to have been lived in far distant, more exotic times. (Apr.)
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