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NEW RELEASES: 'Byzantium Express' and 'The Legacy of St Brendan'

Thande

Directly Elected Mayor of the Western Hemisphere
Published by SLP
?!?!??!?!!

Now that's thinking outside the AH box!
Have you not heard of the legend of St Brendan? Not that well known now, but used to be big a century ago when the theories that he had reached America were all over the place - Tolkien was even inspired by the idea in some of his early stories.
 
It'll be interesting to see what Alex Rooksmoor makes of how to get a surviving Byzantium as the Balkans/ Asia Minor regional power by 1914 not Ottoman Turkey. My own take on how you could get there is in my text for my second 'Alt Hist' Byzantium book (mostly analysis not narrative, but with a bit of the latter), entitled 'Rampart of Christendom'. As the successor to my 'Caesars of the Bosphorus', it is now waiting in line for publication by Sealion but was mostly written back in 2016-17.I start off with the Crusaders failing to take Constantinople in 1203-4, but there are several ways that the Empire could have kept the Turks back at the Dardanelles and Bosphorus - mostly based on better Byz leadership and fewer civil wars in the C13th and C14th.

The legend of St Brendan, an abbot of a Western Ireland monastery , and some of his monks sailing in a cow-hide boat with a sail across the NE Atlantic via the Faroes and Iceland to North America (as the 'Land of Promise' that God had offered as a future home for teh Irish saints), was originally written down in the C6th or C7th AD, soon after it supposedly happened. It was mostly seen as symbolic and/or imaginary not a real event by historians and literary experts until the modern era, but the similarity of its geography (eg fogs and strange sea-animals) to the actual phenomena of a voyage there has led to claims that it could be a record, distorted by romance, of a real voyage. The Irish monks were fond of long voyages, and some probably settled in the Faroes and Iceland before the Vikings got there. I remember that some decades ago (1980s??) an adventurer called Tim Severin and his crew retraced the route from Ireland to Labrador in a replica boat like a large coracle, with TV cameras on board, and it was then shown on TV as the 'Brendan Voyage'. It showed that the boat was capable of lasting that long and the currents were right; it was like a chillier, N Atlantic version of Thor Heyerdal's 'Kon-Tiki' voyage and just as much pooh-poohed by the 'experts'. There was also a paperback book, which I read; the TV series should still be available on the internet as it was quite famous at the time.
 

Alexander Rooksmoor

Active member
Yes, I have long believed in the need for multiple points of divergence to get to many of the most interesting alternative scenarios - though I accept that many AH fans baulk against having more than one. I do not spend pages outlining these differences in the novel, but a number are mentioned in the Foreword and in passing in the story.

In the Foreword I say:

It is not too difficult to envisage a series of feasible outcomes that would have led to this situation: a Byzantine victory at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 followed by the Crusaders handing over the Byzantine cities they recaptured in 1098-99, just as they had sworn; something encouraged by the death of Bohemond of Taranto which could easily have occurred. Then the Fourth Crusade of 1202-04, rather than smashing up Constantinople and fragmenting the empire, drove the Seljuks back and built up castles for crusader lords to occupy on the empire’s eastern border. As it was the Mongol invasions of west Asia in 1258 caused major problems for the Seljuks and their raids witnessed the sacking of the great city of Baghdad. In the 14th Century, Osman, the founder of the Ottomans was one small beyrik to rise out of the debris of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum and he could have been betrayed or been defeated and the beyriks remained weak and divided. Already these turns in history which could have come about, rather than establish an ailing Byzantium, set up one which perhaps never strong, can survive into the 20th Century, just as in our world, the Ottoman Empire survived and on a far larger scale than the Byzantine Empire ever reached.

Like the Ottoman Empire, by the late 19th Century, the Byzantine Empire is envisaged as being 'a sick man of Europe', but as with the Ottomans, European powers have an interest in getting involved in the country. The British and French support it as they did the Ottomans, against the Russians. The Germans have an interest in developing railways across Byzantine land, advising on military matters and indeed, helping Byzantine cities develop electrical power. Lack of coal in the region, encourages an earlier development of oil exploitation in northern 'Syria' to power not just the cities, but also in line with US and British developments, the Byzantine navy. There is a cost of foreign intervention - Britain gets a treaty port on Cyprus, Italy receives Rhodes on a 99-year lease. Such developments may seem familiar and that is because I feel by this stage, Byzantium could survive at least as well as the Chinese Empire did in the face of similar economic and political penetration. Land is lost and the Principality of Bulgaria plays an important role in the novel.

As you note, Heraclius, fewer civil wars would have aided Byzantine survival. I have assumed, perhaps lightly, that taking the pressure off from Seljuk expansion - as Osman and the Ottomans never rise to great prominence - also revivifies Byzantine society yet at the same time presents a constant appreciation of threat that helps to keep Byzantium more together through the principle of negative integration. As time passes, especially with Russian expansion up to the Caucasus Mountains, a new threat to bind against presents itself.
 

Alexander Rooksmoor

Active member
Two groups which would have been greatly affected by the persistence of the Byzantine Empire are the Armenians and the Pontic Greeks. Without pressure from Seljuks in the North-East, Armenians would not have relocated to Cicilia on the Mediterranean coast to establish Little Armenia but have remained in the areas we tend to associate with Armenians today. Furthermore without Ottoman control of Anatolia there would have been no Armenian Genocide in 1915 (nor the massacres in the preceding decades) which killed 1.5 million Armenians. There would be an Armenian diaspora, but not as widely or as extensively as now and there would be millions more Armenians living in the Middle East now. The Pontic Greeks (mentioned in passing in the novel too) would not have been massacred in their tens of thousands, 1915-22 and expelled from an area of Anatolia they had inhabited for 3000 years, in 1923. While in this alternative, Greek culture would be dominant across the region, the Pontic Greek dialect (incomprehensible to people in Athens) and culture would also persist on that Black Sea coast.
 

varyar

sub-creator
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Western New York
Anybody else having trouble loading the Amazon pages for these two? I'm getting a 504 error on my PC browser, and no luck with my phone, either.
 

Gary Oswald

Old and Foolish now
Sea Lion Press staff
Published by SLP
Pronouns
he/him
Anybody else having trouble loading the Amazon pages for these two? I'm getting a 504 error on my PC browser, and no luck with my phone, either.
Same. I can't look at that page in Wix but I'm guessing @Meadow just put a bad link in.

It's https://www.amazon.co.uk/Byzantium-Express-Alexander-Rooksmoor-ebook/dp/B08M8X3TCZ

 

varyar

sub-creator
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Western New York
Same. I can't look at that page in Wix but I'm guessing @Meadow just put a bad link in.

It's https://www.amazon.co.uk/Byzantium-Express-Alexander-Rooksmoor-ebook/dp/B08M8X3TCZ

Thanks!

For my fellow Americans:


 

Meadow

Out, Out, Out
Administrator
Sea Lion Press staff
Published by SLP
Location
Balham
Pronouns
he/him
Thanks!

For my fellow Americans:


Both links on the Our Books pages are correct, they should take you to an automated service which takes you to your local Amazon site (which works for me):

 

Thande

Directly Elected Mayor of the Western Hemisphere
Published by SLP
Both links on the Our Books pages are correct, they should take you to an automated service which takes you to your local Amazon site (which works for me):

I think it may be a bit variable, it usually works for me but I think I remember being on a computer where it didn't open when I was trying to access it.

I occasionally publicise our books on sershal meedja with a direct Amazon link just in case, though I suspect it works 95% of the time.
 
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