Release Date: 21/07/11
To the Greeks who love it, it is Constantinople. To the Turks who covet it, the Red Apple. Safe behind its magnificent walls, the city was once the heart of the vast Byzantine empire. 1453. The empire has shrunk to what lies within those now-crumbling walls. A relic. Yet for one man, Constantinople is the stepping stone to destiny. Mehmet II is twenty when he is annointed Sultan. Now, seeking Allah's will and Man's glory, he brings an army of one hundred thousand, outnumbering the defenders ten to one. He has also brings something new to the city - the most deadly threat the ancient walls have ever faced. And yet, through seven weeks of sea battles, night battles, by tunnel and tower, the defence holds, and will until the final assault and a single bullet that will change history. But a city is more than stone, its fate inseparable from that of its people. Men like Gregoras, a mercenary and exile, returning to the hated place he once loved. Like his twin and betrayer, the subtle diplomat, Theon. Like Sofia, loved by two brothers but forced to make a desperate choice between them. And Leilah, a powerful mystic and assassin, seeking her own destiny in the flames. This is the tale of one of history's greatest battles for one of the world's most extraordinary places. This is the story of people, from peasant to emperor - with the city's fate, and theirs, undecided...until the moment the Red Apple falls.
I originally read CC’s first novel Vlad quite a while ago and whilst I loved the subject matter and the sensitivity shown by the author for the national hero of Wallachia I did wonder if he’d perhaps bitten off a bit more than he could chew with such a historical sequence and only 352 pages to bring it all together. There were obviously going to be cuts and some of the sequences were going to be rushed but what arrived was a fully formed and very impressive title.
As with Vlad the prose was delightful and the authors descriptions really took the reader by the hand through the old city making it feel that they knew the city prior to the destruction alongside why they fought as they did. Back that up with a wonderful lead character, some delightful dialogue and the whole thing was just a treat from start to finish. Whilst CC may not be out every year at the moment, the work is definitely worth waiting for with the authors research clearly presenting a title that every reader wants without feeling like they’ve just been dumped with a huge amount of information.