Thursday, September 13, 2012

C.C. Humphreys A Place Called Armageddon Tour with a Guest Post and Review

C.C. Humphreys is currently touring to promote his new release A Place Called Armageddon.

For more information about the book, please visit

Thank you C.C. and Sourcebooks for letting me join your blog tour with a Guest Post and Review.

Please take it away C.C.!

Constantinople: Then vs. Now

For me to write, a sense of place is vital. Unless I have been, there exists a chasm that imagination, however much I prize it, cannot fill.

This has never been more true than in this book.

I was fortunate to go to Istanbul twice, in three years. The first time, in April 2007, I was in Romania, researching my novel: ‘Vlad, The Last Confession’ - about the real Dracula -(Sourcebooks 2011). Istanbul was a short plane hop across the edge of the Black Sea.

This novel was not even a nag in my brain then. Though I am always interested in battles, and I visited the Theodosian walls, it was the post-conquest and modern city that captivated me. I did the full tourist thing, was suitably awed by luxuriant Topkapi and dazzled by the Blue Mosque. Took my boat across the Golden Horn and up the Bosphorus. Played backgammon in alleys in Pera. Bought a rug in the grand bazaar and smoked narghile filled with apple tobacco in a place just beside it. Ate it, drank it, smoked it. Loved it… and left.

Three years later I returned, this time for a purpose besides pleasure. I was there to research my novel about the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. I knew the city much better by then – from books. But I needed questions answered about the place - and especially its people. I’d already decided to tell the tale from both sides of the walls, defenders and attackers, Greek and Turk. Now I had to meet their descendants.

And did. I was so fortunate in that my last novel, ‘Vlad’ was just being published there. So my publishers took me around, helped me find some of the key locations – including the little jewel box of a chapel, St Maria of the Mongols, that became a cornerstone of the book. Appropriately, I kept meeting warriors. My translator, Murad, was a former member of Turkey’s judo squad and a practicing student of Sufism, so was able to share some insights into the Muslim faith. I also met the magnificent Suleyman, a current karate champion and gentle giant, who embodied the spirit of those extraordinary soldiers who managed to take the city.

But it was a poet back in Vancouver, Hasmet Konsiz, who crystallized my vision. I asked him why he felt Istanbul still exerted such a hypnotic power. It was he who shared his visions and that I set down thus, from the point of view of a nameless Greek defender, talking of his city. And why he will fight for it so hard.

‘(My love) is not solid, like stone. It is not rousing, as history is, nor sustaining as only God’s words can be. My love is made of air itself, of the breath I take from East and West and the scents they bring in each season. Of the sun I watch pass directly over me down the line of the Bosphorus, setting the dome of Divine Wisdom afire, falling on every column that marks our history, transforming the waters that surround and sustain us from the blue smelted steel of our swords to the green of an Empress’s eye. In its daily course the sun casts an even light upon the whole city, lingers like a lover reluctant to part… then flees suddenly, unable to look back, anxious to swiftly return, as it always does. As shall I.’

Constantinople that was. Istanbul that is. The new city, rising again to its rightful place of eminence in the world. The old, not just a monument, but a vital part of what is now. Beauty, legacy, foundation, all combined. So if I had to single out one influence beyond words and people it would have to be, again, the city itself. At one point in the novel my protagonist,the wounded, disfigured hero, Gregoras says that ‘a room with a good view is a surer possession than virtue’. If he is right - then perhaps one day I’ll trade in my few virtues and seek one there. To spend the hours watching the sun run down the line of the Bosphorus, gilding the pink-petalled Judas trees, shining on the domes and monuments, on the crumbled walls … and on the people, descendants of both Greek and Turk, as the Laughing Dove cries.

Constantinople. For a thousand years, the city was the heart of the vast Byzantine empire. Beloved of Greeks. Coveted by Turks. 1453. The empire has shrunk to what lies within its no - longer magnificent walls. Yet for one man, Constantinople is the stepping stone to destiny. Mehmet 11, just twenty when he is anointed Sultan, brings an army of one hundred thousand, outnumbering the defenders ten to one, and the most deadly threat the city has ever faced - the largest cannon in the world. But a city is more than stone, its fate inseparable from its citizens'. Like Gregoras, mercenary and exile, returning to the hated place he once loved. Theon, his twin - and betrayer. Sofia, loved by two brothers, forced to choose between them. And Leilah, mystic and assassin, seeking her own destiny in the flames ...
About the Author
C.C. Humphreys was born in Toronto and grew up in Los Angeles and London. A third generation actor and writer on both sides of his family, he is married and lives on Salt Spring Island, Canada.

Product Details
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Orion (March 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1409120260
ISBN-13: 978-1409120261

My Review:

The wall city of Constantinople was all that was left of the Byzantine Empire by 1453. Sultan Mehmet II lead about one hundred thousand Ottoman/Turkish solders against the Byzantine.
The main characters of the Byzantine side are two twin brothers  Gregoras and Theon Lascaris.  Gregoras has finally returned to Constantinople after being exiled and is currently serving as a mercenary.  Theon is a favored Constantine's member.  Both brother's don't trust each other because they are like night and day.  The main characters on the Ottomen side are Hamza Bey Mehmet's advisor and Achmed a peasant farmer who was one of the first group of men who attacked the walls.  We also meet Sofia the women loved by both men and Leilah a mystic and assassin who is curving her own destiny.

The author did a great job of researching and accurately writing about the events leading to this place in history.  Even though the book was long it didn't feel like it because it was fast paced and very interesting.


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