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    Review of EIGHT FOR ETERNITY by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer (see their website)


    Poisoned Pen Press, April 2010

    The Blues and Greens have battled for years in the streets of Constantinople. Now, the level of violence has increased and threatens the emperor, Justinian, directly. Although the Blues and Greens have hated each other, both are united in calling out for Justinian's replacement. In this explosive environment, Justinian has ordered execution of some of the worst troublemakers but an accident during hanging saves two rioters--for at least a while.

    John (the eunuch), Chamberlain for Justinian, is ordered to bring the last two prisoners back, but he arrives too late. Someone has already intervened and spirited the two away and Justinian's plan to show his mercy comes undone. Now it's up to John to track down the truth, and to learn if the botched executions are part of an overriding plot to destroy the emperor--and perhaps the empire itself.

    Set during one of the most critical moments in history, the Nika Riots, Justinian's rule appears doomed and the thousand-year continuity of Rome, too, may be in danger. John's investigation takes him through the streets of Constantinople, to meetings with charioteers, faction members, the famous general Belisarius, the nearly-as-famous eunuch Narsus, and the mysterious and dangerous women, Theodora and Antonia.

    Authors Mary Reed and Eric Mayer (see more reviews of mysteries by Reed and Mayer) offer a dramatic view of Constantinople during this turbulent time. John manages to be everywhere, exploring the dangers of the factionalized city, meeting with monks, madmen, charioteers, and royalty. The mystery transforms from a who-done-it to a larger look at whether the riots are part of an organized conspiracy to overthrow the emperor with John finally putting the pieces together, but too late to prevent the climax of the revolt where tens of thousands of civilians and rioters were slaughtered.

    The Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) survived a thousand years after the fall of Rome itself. It protected literature and science at a time when the west sank into barbarism. Under Justinian, it bult one of the great monuments of religion, the Hagia Sophia, and nearly rebuilt the entire Roman Empire with the reconquest of Africa from the Vandals and Italy from the Goths. Yet this fascinating nation is mostly forgotten today. Reed and Mayer don't just retell dry history, though. They make history come alive with fascinating characters (including the fictional John and his friend Felix and the very real Justinian, Theodora and Narses).

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 6/30/10

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