I have read three of Mr. Doherty’s books and liked them a lot. Given that his track record is superb I expected nothing less than that same excellence from Strategos: Rise of the Golden Heart. If I was previously enthralled with his work, and not just a little jealous, I am even more so now.
It has been twelve years since the end of book 1 and Apion is now a Strategos and his reputation as The Haga grows after every battle or skirmish with his Seljuk enemies. His development as a strong, decisive leader of men is countered somewhat by the soul sickening events of his past. We find him not only having to cope with his turmoil on an emotional level but physically as well given that his most obdurate foe, once his best friend, has sworn vengeance and death to The Haga. Mr. Doherty plays this sub-plot beautifully and adds some unforeseen results…(no spoilers J ).
Once again, the author has put together a story line with abundant twists, turns and surprises. One in particular had my mind screaming OMG or was it WTF when, no wait, no spoilers here boys and girls, suffice to know that the author has not lost his touch for mystery and intrigue. Neither has the author neglected to do his homework. The battles are first rate, the geography is well described and the everyday events of 11th century Byzantium are evidence of the research.
Relentless action, political intrigue, betrayal, bitter foes and steadfast friends – the list goes on and on and I’m pretty sure will carry over to book 3. Well done Mr. Doherty. I rate this book at 4.8.