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The shadow of Ararat
Thomas Harlan
Adult Fiction HARLAN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In his ambitious first novel, Harlan combines fantasy and alternate history to create a rich depiction of an ancient empire. Set in what would be our A.D. 600, the narrative depicts a Roman empire that is still standing, thanks to the prowess of its military legions and of its thaumaturges. The book's many subplots stir into action when the empire's Western emperor joins his Eastern counterpart in a war against Persia. Characters include stock villains and unrelievedly heroic heroes, such as the Roman Prince Maxian, who is both a fighter and physician. Fortunately, most of the other major characters are more rounded; they include a female assassin whose cunning patron sends her into the royal army, an emperor who returns from the dead, a young Hibernian thaumaturge who is prematurely thrust into battle, a Hermetic priest who mentors his inexperienced pupil in the art of magic and a powerful sorcerer who turns against his country. Harlan incorporates allusions to real historyÄfor example, references to a religious group crucified for not worshipping Roman godsÄwhile twisting history's consequences in other arenas, such as in his descriptions of the effects of lead in Roman drinking water. Even if the novel often lacks the lush detail of similar fantasy and historicals, it adequately evokes the period's landscape, everyday manners, eating and housing. This book marks the start of a planned Oath of Empire series, and most readers of this volume will look forward to the second. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

As Roman Emperor Galen Atreus journeys to Constantinople to aid the emperor of the Eastern Empire in an all-or-nothing war against the Persians, his magically gifted brother Maxian remains behind in search of a means of lifting a lingering curse that eats away at the heart of Rome. Caught up in this dual struggle of sorcery and military might, a half-trained Celtic battle mage, a warrior-queen, and a young woman skilled in the covert arts find their talents tested on the altar of honor and sacrifice. Set in a world in which the Roman Empire survives the barbarian invasions, Harlans first novel features powerful and evocative prose as well as a strong cast of characters, a wealth of vivid detail, and a conclusion that leaves plenty of room for sequels. Highly recommended for fantasy collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Dwyrin MacDonald
Half-trained student of magic; is able to conjure fire.

Thyatis Julia Clodia
Covert warfare specialist.

Dwyrin's teacher.

Maxian Atreus
Emperor Galen's youngest brother.


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