The Sultan of Byzantium

Selcuk Altun, trans. From the Turkish by Clifford Endres and Selhan Entres. Telegram (Consortium, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-84659-148-8
Readers tired of the endless Da Vinci Code knockoffs will find Altun's variation on the theme a refreshing one. Turkish economics professor Halas Araboglu's quiet life is upended when he receives a letter from Nikos Askaris promising "excellent news", and requesting that the academic bring a 15th-century map drawn by a Florentine priest to their meeting. Naturally curious, Araboglu attends, to be greeted with the mind-blowing news that he is actually a descendant of the last Byzantine emperor, and thus the emperor-in-exile the Byzantine has been awaiting for over 500 years. He accedes to carry out the tasks Askaris assigns him as necessary to fulfilling his new role-two months of study, followed by a testing process requiring him to solve a riddle in his ancestor's will. Altun (Songs My Mother Never Taught Me) beautifully incorporates details about the Byzantine Empire less familiar to Western audiences, as well as healthy injections of wry humor, into this riveting escapade. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/06/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
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