The third book in my Historical Fiction Around the World series, C.C. Humphreys’ A Place Called Armageddon: Constantinople 1453 managed to surprise me. After I gave you all my First Thoughts on the book, I became so intrigued by the characters and the situations they faced that I had a hard time putting down the book.
Anyone who knows me well, also knows that I’m not a fan of violence in entertainment. It’s easier for me to handle when its in fiction rather than a visual medium. My son convinced me to watch the entire Game of Thrones series but I will confess to leaving the room during certain parts. I didn’t want the nightmares to follow. #JustSaying
This story is all about the fall of the greatest city up to that time, Constantinople. Humphreys does an excellent job of ensuring the reader identifies with the characters, roots for some and not for others. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever read a story that presented both the winner’s and loser’s views of the same battle. The winner viewed it as a noble, honorable achievement while the loser saw it as the fall of a great city, the failure of the military to hold their position despite the odds. And those odds were immense!
Through reading this story, I learned not only a bit more about the history of the city and its people, but also about the mentality of a warrior. How he views the scene of battle, weighs the odds and chance of success or failure, and acts to defend what he—or she—can. It’s an insight that has wider ramifications as to how I personally view the people around me. It also helps me have another tool in my writing skills toolbox as I create my own characters. See, reading for an author or anyone who wants to become a published author/writer is more than just enjoying the story. It’s keeping an eye out for devices and approaches that can be adapted to our own work. Which is why I advocate for writers to read widely. You never know when you’ll come across a technique that will add a freshness to your writing.
I also enjoyed the mystical elements woven into this story. The character of Leilah intrigued me the most. She was not only a warrior, fully capable with a crossbow and its quarrels (a word I had to look up by the way!) but also with reading the portents and palms and other such mystical arts. How she used her skills in such effective and complementary ways, too. Humphreys made her rounded and believable within her own time.
I also enjoyed how the author managed to weave a romance into this story that takes place during a protracted and horrific battle. Doing so made the main male characters even more believable. I mean, don’t we (humans) fight to protect what is important to us, and thus those we love? How we choose what is important also reflects on the individual’s character. Those choices are made apparent in the story as well, and how the people doing the choosing behave as a result. Is something important because you’re jealous of anyone else possessing it/him/her, or because you care about it/him/her?
A Place Called Armageddon lives up to its name as those fighting—to defend and to invade—face impressive foes, even more impressive odds against the staggering number of invaders vs. the defenders. It must have indeed seemed like the end of the world for those defending. But trust me that the story is not only about how the two sides fought each other, but also about how people fight to survive physically and emotionally during trying times. I’m glad I read this story, because it opened my eyes to a different point of view, a different way of seeing situations and then adjusting my reaction accordingly.
Next up on my Historical Fiction Around the World tour of authors from other countries is Her Secret War by Pam Lecky. This story is set in Dublin during WWII and is written by an Irish author. I’m looking forward to seeing the war through her eyes. Want to read along with me?
Happy reading and Happy New Year to all!
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She lost everything but only his love can save her…
How does one recover after tragic loss demolishes your heart and soul? Meredith Reed grapples with that question every day, especially after she inherits Twin Oaks. The historic plantation is meant for a large family but hers no longer exists. She has some ideas for its future: tear it down; bulldoze it; burn it. Regardless of her incensed family and the handsome, irate estate lawyer’s objections. And despite the influence of the Lady in Blue haunting the place…
Max Chandler anticipates buying his dream home with the raise from his expected promotion after passage of the historic property preservation legislation he championed. Twin Oaks is just the sort of place he dreams of. Big and roomy, with lingering echoes of laughter and love from past generations within its very walls. Perfect. Except, perhaps, for the Civil War era ghosts in residence. They’ll have to go.
When Twin Oaks is threatened with a bulldozer, he has to fight, ignoring his growing attraction to Meredith. Her intentions go against everything he’s worked for. He has no choice but to do all in his power to stop her.
Will Meredith’s grief destroy her heart and home or will she listen to what the Lady in Blue is trying to teach her?
(Updated and revised edition; originally published in 2014 as Traces.)