Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Review: Siege by Jack Hight

Siege is author, Jack Hight's, first novel, a fictional dramatization of the real-life siege and consequent fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453. In this novel historical characters are portrayed in the years preceding the battle of Constantinople and ultimately in the battle for the city itself as well as the aftermath.

This book tells this historical tale from several years before the events of the battle and the author builds the political intrigue in a manner full of suspense. The opening chapters of the book also introduce a set of characters that the reader can believe in, as well as care about, on both the Christian and Islamic factions that are a part of these events. Even though the events preceding the battle perhaps occupy a little too much of this book, this part of the novel is well-written and the reader becomes engrossed in the small events that shape the lives of the main protagonists.

The plot of the story, of course, is rather pre-ordained by history but the author does well to build up the suspense in a number of ways with political tugs-of-war on both sides of the conflict, traitorous scheming and   romantic sub-plots that keep the reader wondering how the lives of those involved will play out after the epic battle.

For those who love novels which describe historical battles, this book will be very enjoyable as many episodes from this historic siege are included in exciting and dramatic detail, although some are totally fictional and are extrapolations on what is known.

Perhaps the biggest complaint I had about "Siege" is that the actual siege itself is rather long in arriving; whilst the suspense is built up throughout the book, the reader is probably ready for the main event long before it is served up by the author, although this does allow for interesting characters to be outlined, around which a story is woven and this prevents the book from being a simple description of historical events.

I would recommend "Siege" to any readers who like historical novels, particularly those who enjoy medieval history. Also readers who would like to try out this genre will perhaps find this book a good place to start.

Score: 8/10

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