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THE SHADOW OF ARARAT [Oath1]
TOR July 1999 hardcover (first edition - number sequence is intact.) Cover by Steven Hickman, 510 pages,$26.95 cover price. Condition is near-Fine or better in a Fine (-) dustjacket: book is tight and almost square (bottom is sqare, top almost); the usual mild bumping to ends of spine; mild uniform age tanning. No stamps, marks or writing - a clean copy. Unclipped DJ has no tears, slight rubbing wear to back cover.
Here is Thomas Harlanís first novel: The Shadow of Ararat, Book 1 of "The Oath of Empire." This novel is big in scope, ambitious, full of interesting characters and details, and managed to surprise me several times. Quoting Locus, "How long has it been since a writer has managed to begin a large-tome, multi-volume epic fantasy giving alternate history the vividness of the real thing and magic the combination of visceral and intellectual impact of the hottest new science?" Right here. Good enough to get Thomas Harlan a nomination for "Best New Writer" Hugo award for the next 2 years. (I would have voted for him.) This book easily makes my own "top 100" list, and Iíll cheerfully sell as many nice copies as I can find.
The Shadow of Ararat: In what would be A.D. 600 in our history, the Roman Empire still stands, supported by the twin pillars of the Legions and Thaumaturges of Rome. Now the Emperor of the West, the Augustus Galen Atreus, will come to the aid of the Emporer of the East, the Augustus Heraclius, to lift the siege of Constantinople and carry a great war to the doorstep of the Shahanshah of Persia... Rome needs manpower and calls up new legions, including users of magic. We follow the unfolding of events through the stories of four people: Dwyrin MacDonald, a young Hibernian student at a school of Sorcery in Egypt. He is conscripted for the Imperial levy of sorcerers and sent off half-trained to the legions. His teacher, the Egyptian sorcerer Ahmet, learns of the expedient betrayal of his student. He abandons his post and his vows, and undertakes to follow Dwyrin and aid him - but their paths diverge, and Ahmet is drawn into companionship with the merchant Mohammed and then into the service of the beautiful and powerful Silk Empress, the Queen of Palmyra. Thyatis Julia Clodia is a young Roman centurion, trained by her patron in the arts of covert warfare. She and her team will be sent deep into Persian territory to foment rebellion in the occupied cities, and smooth the path for Galenís Legions. Maxian Atreus is Galenís youngest brother, a physician and sorcerer. He is charge with overseeing the espionage activities of Thyatisí patron, but he has learned of a dreadful curse on the City and Empire, a spell that must be broken before Rome can triumph in this war...
Before he turned to fiction, Thomas Harlan was a game-designer. This background shows up in the battle scenes: they are impeccable and believable, in terms of number and type of forces, and how the various characters might act and interact - complete with horror and irony.
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