The Gardens of Byzantium is set amongst the chaos of war; the Roman Army are steadily moving towards Persia when three of their men are captured and tortured. Two survive, but the third man does not. The year is 622A.D.
Antonious, three months on is fighting to survive day to day, determined to never give in, never give up. His salvation comes in the form of mysterious supply of food lowered to his Prison cell, until one night he hears a terrible uproar taking place, a silver ring falls to the floor and the girl quickly vanishes, never to return.
Asana and her brother are fleeing Antioch after the surprise attack on their home, the Barracks; their father a Commander in the Persian Army. The Romans had invaded, their world was in crisis and the only choice they had was to try and make it to Tyre, where they hoped to find safety and their father.
Fate is a fickle creature and plays a very important role in what is to come in the gentle and beautiful Asana’s future, as it will in Antonius’s. Both, on their separate pathways, meet an elderly woman in the ruins of the ancient, long abandoned village of Berytus, who tells them of a love that will be found but will not last.
Shooting stars and Nightingales help Asana hold onto hope, even when her life becomes almost unbearable. Antonius, now a Garrison Commander in Byzantium, is still full of vengeance, committed to his vow to find the men who carelessly committed such brutal torture.
As the story of Asana and Antonius unfolds against a dramatic backdrop, the rich beauty of an ill-fated love captures the heart and the imagination. J.F Hughes takes the time to set the background to enhance the storyline, which, while not unique, is captivating.
Well-researched, The Gardens of Byzantium is a well written story of time long ago, when life was perilous, war was an everyday element of life, the people of Constantinople and Persia always expecting the worst. For those who enjoy music to accompany their reading a playlist of music has been included at the front of the book, which adds a further element of enjoyment to a most pleasurable Sunday on the couch story.