Title – Strategos – Born in the Borderlands (Strategos #1)
Author – Gordon Doherty
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 420 Pages (Kindle)
Publication – 12th December 2011
My Rating – 5/5 Stars
When the falcon has flown, the mountain lion will charge from the east, and all Byzantium will quake. Only one man can save the empire . . . the Haga!
1046 AD. The Byzantine Empire teeters on full-blown war with the Seljuk Sultanate. In the borderlands of Eastern Anatolia, a land riven with bloodshed and doubt, young Apion’s life is shattered in one swift and brutal Seljuk night raid. Only the benevolence of Mansur, a Seljuk farmer, offers him a second chance of happiness.
Yet a hunger for revenge burns in Apion’s soul, and he is drawn down a dark path that leads him right into the heart of a conflict that will echo through the ages.
I’m a fan of Gordon already after reading the first three novels in his other series Legionary so I was very pleased when offered the chance to read the first book in the Strategos series.
This book is split into two parts first being Apion’s early life, we slowly find out how he became a slave and earned his scar which haunts him day after day. We see him rescued from this life by Mansur. We see him learn from Mansur and this gives the characters a lot of depth and you feel like a father yourself seeing Apion coming out of his shell forging friendships with Mansur’s daughter Maria and their neighbouring farmer’s son Nasir. The author definitely put a lot of time into the development of the storyline and it pays off.
You can tell straight away Mansur being a Seljuk living in the lands of the empire won’t go down well with some people and you are introduced to the character Bracchus who I took and instant dislike to with his threats. I could tell there was something behind this character as soon as you were introduced to him but I had no idea things would play out the way they did.
The second part of the book focuses on Apion’s life after he joins the armies of the Empire to fight in the inevitable war with the Seljuk. We see him fight against his own body in order to prove himself. After sometime we see Apion become the man he wanted to be, not the runt he felt as a young boy.
Apion progresses through the ranks of the army forming friendships with Nepos, Procopius, Sha & Blastares. All of these characters are unique and have their own talents. I loved every single one of them.
I don’t like to give away too much but a lot happens here, friendships are tested. Along the way a number of people are lost and we learn a lot more about Apion’s past.
This book really has been one of my favourite reads. This book is full of action and even more development which I think is essential when writing a series of books, without good character development its hard to keep the reader engaged enough to buy the next installment.
Gordon has a talent of keeping the reader interested, you find yourself getting lost in the story and before you know it your hit with and ending that leaves you gasping for more. As a reader I was hooked and will be purchasing the next book in the series soon as there’s no way I can continue without finding out what happens next.
Keep your eyes peeled; in the near future I’ll be adding Gordon to my Author Spotlight page where I’ll give a brief overview of his other series and why he is one of my favourite authors to date