Thursday, February 12, 2015

Strategos: Born In The Borderlands / Gordon Doherty

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Historical fiction

Approximate word count: 100-105,000

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Doherty is an avid reader and writer of historical fiction developed as a result of living and working close to two significant monuments - the Antonine Wall and Hadrian’s Wall. Of particular interest to the author are the late Roman and Byzantium periods. In addition he writes sci-fi and comedy.
You can learn more about the author at his website.


1046 AD. The Byzantine Empire teeters on full-blown war with the Seljuk Sultanate. In the borderlands of Eastern Anatolia, a land riven with bloodshed and doubt, young Apion's life is shattered in one swift and brutal Seljuk night raid. Only the benevolence of Mansur, a Seljuk farmer, offers him a second chance of happiness.

Yet a hunger for revenge burns in Apion's soul, and he is drawn down a dark path that leads him right into the heart of a conflict that will echo through the ages.


This is a classy historical fiction, well researched and very well written, so much so it is hard to understand why Doherty isn’t published by a major house.

The Byzantium period is one I know virtually nothing about, however in part one of this series Doherty immerses the reader in the lives and times of the people who lived it. The characterization is a particularly strong suit of Doherty’s.

The narrative is absorbing and I found it hard to put down once I’d started. Apion, the protagonist, is a boy at the outset. He’s orphaned in circumstances that set out his path. Initially the tale is one of life in the ages, later it develops into a military plot, building towards an extremely well-constructed battle scene at the climax. Bernard Cornwell too finishes his books with a big fight and Doherty’s is at least as strong as Cornwell’s.


Nothing of note.

Format/Typo Issues:


Rating: ***** Five Stars

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