Servants of Byzantium
SYNOPSIS: Byzantium 990-998. Ethelwulf arrives in Byzantium(or Miklagard or Constantinople) and becomes embroiled in the intrigues of the court of Basil II. Unwittingly they upset the schemes of the Eparchos and become reluctantly accepted as the genesis of the Varangian Guard. Whether it’s kidnap by a religious fanatic or attempted murder in the bed-chamber of an imperial princess,, danger stalks the Wanderer. Then a sudden discovery of treasure leads remorselessly to the final virtual destruction of his band.
With extensive Factual End-Notes.
EXTRACT: 'Ahead Gunnar was shrieking at his men to close ranks. Some of them were dismounting, allowing their horses to mill around and add to the existing chaos. Others tried to retain control of their mounts and peer over the heads of the Cappadocians in front at what had caused the turmoil.
From out of the dust came a burst of about sixty Turkish horsemen; wild men, using their short bows with powerful effect as they charged towards the surprised imperial troops. Gunnar wondered how long, if at all, the Cappadocian spearmen would be able to resist the onslaught. At this point in the Gates a solid line of ten men could force lightly armed horsemen to swing into the more-restricted paths to the left or right. Once there progress would be less sure because of the unevenness of the ground.
By now Gunnar had thrown himself to the ground, slapped his horse off in the direction of the charging Turks and got a firmer grip on his battle-axe. From his throat came the savage war-cry of the Waterford levies. He remembered the fury with which his father, Thorgeir, had dragged three Gaels down with him as he’d been pitched over the edge of the Eagle Falls. Since hearing about that he’d never liked fighting beside a steep drop. This was different; here a man could stand and fight in a shield wall.'
END-NOTE EXAMPLE: 234. A theme was an administrative district of the Empire. In order going north from the coast the themes on the eastern frontier were Seleucian, Cappadocian, Charsinian and Armeniac.
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