Monday, 13 May 2013

FACTUAL HISTORICAL REVIEW: In the Shadow of the Sword - Tom Holland

Release Date: 04/04/13
Publisher:  Abacus


In the 6th century AD, the Near East was divided between two great empires: the Persian and the Roman. A hundred years on, and one had vanished for ever, while the other was a dismembered, bleeding trunk. In their place, a new superpower had arisen: the empire of the Arabs. So profound was this upheaval that it spelled, in effect, the end of the ancient world. But the changes that marked the period were more than merely political or even cultural: there was also a transformation of human society with incalculable consequences for the future. Today, over half the world's population subscribes to one of the various religions that took on something like their final form during the last centuries of antiquity. Wherever men or women are inspired by belief in a single god to think or behave in a certain way, they bear witness to the abiding impact of this extraordinary, convulsive age - though as Tom Holland demonstrates, much of what Jews, Christians and Muslims believe about the origins of their religion is open to debate. In the Shadow of the Sword explores how a succession of great empires came to identify themselves with a new and revolutionary understanding of the divine. It is a story vivid with drama, horror and startling achievement, and stars many of the most remarkable rulers ever seen.


To be honest I’m the type of person who loves to read historical fiction and then delve into the world with factual research. Its one of those little quirks of mine that really does give me pleasure when I get to see how similar we are to those who have gone before. Whether it’s a demand for beer or for more personal items that come only from home, its great to see how it all worked together with the world as it was then.

Here in this title by Tom Holland, the reader is given an account of how the New Roman Empire faced off against the Persians which led to the ruination of one and the decimation of the other, so much so that they never recovered. It’s pretty detailed, has some wonderful research behind it and when added to a writer who loves to bring history to life for the reader really makes this something solid to sit back and enjoy. All round a great book and one I’ve enjoyed, especially when you get to read about some the characters from the time.

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