Warwick

Monað modes lust mæla gehÆ¿ylce ferð to feran.

A Short History Of Byzantium - John Julius Norwich This is history the way you always wished it could be but never is. It is a scarcely-believable catalogue of violent deaths (try being pierced at close range by hundreds of arrows until you bleed slowly to death), sexual intrigues (one Empress had specially-trained geese to peck corn from her nether regions), and religious oddities (men who live their whole lives on top of a column, for instance).

With barbarian hordes, crusading knights, treasures and quests, the whole thing is like Tolkien got together with David Lynch to invent something that you could never get away with if it were fiction.

There are times, especially near the beginning and end, where you can tell that this has been abridged from the three-volume edition (which doesn't seem to be easily available any more). But on the whole it's a very enjoyable and fascinating canter through a period of history which is still not well known, and which is the link from the classical world to the mediaeval world. Great fun.

Currently reading

Emir Abd El-Kader: Hero and Saint of Islam
Gustavo Polit, Eric Geoffroy, Ahmed Bouyerdene
Progress: 70 %