April 24, 2011

‘Siege’: Poison, Plots and the Fall of Constantinople

This is definitely the story of Christendom’s last stand, told in a manner that would make it attractive to a film producer. I lost count of the number of prejudiced images, from the fat Turkish slave trader in the center of Constantinople to the continuous use of the word Turk as an insult. Of course, the harem, too, is described with the usual Orientalist imagery. It is a pit of vipers, with “lonely women locked in the harem like birds in a cage.”

But Hight ties his fantasy down to earth with factual accuracy concerning the details of the siege and final battle, even quoting extensively from Constantine’s last recorded words to his troops: “Be not afraid that our walls have been worn down by the enemy’s battering. For your strength lies in the protection of God. … The fate of the oldest empire the world has ever known lies with you. … Fight for each other! Fight for Constantinople!”

“Siege,” by Jack Hight, published by John Murray (2010), 6.99 pounds in paperback ISBN: 978-184854296-9


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