Judith Tarr
The Golden Horn (Volume 2 of The Hound and the Falcon)
Tor Books 1986

This is the second book in "The Hound and the Falcon". Beware! The review might include spoilers if you haven't read "The Isle of Glass".

Alf and Thea have come to Constantinople. Five years have gone since they left Britain. They've already visited Jerusalem, the goal for his pilgrimage, and now they're in Thea's native country. If fairy folk can have such a thing. There is very little remaining of what she once gave up, her family gone. But Alf has more important things on his mind than his suffering friend: he has to stop an upcoming catastrophe.

Outside the city of Constantinople a large army is encamped. Latins, known as the Fourth Crusade. Blessed by the Pope but in reality led by the Doge of Venice, on their way to free Jerusalem from the Moslems, but remaining outside Constantinople waiting for supplies from the city. And, if some of them get their way, ready to take not only the needed supplies but the whole city. In the army they find old friend of Alf and Thea and all who've read "The Isle of Glass": Jehan, once one of Alf's students, now a warrior priest. Together, they try to make things right.

Take a strong historical situation and a couple of interesting historical characters. Add Alf and Thea and a little magic and you get the reason why Ms Tarr is considered one of the very best writers of historical fantasy. A friend of mine actually stopped reading this book, finding the idea that Alf at last would break his vow on celibacy too revolting, but if you can accept a monk no longer living a monkish life, I can't see any reason not to enjoy this book. The setting is great. A Byzantine empire in decay, still rich and cultivated but bound by tradition and ceremony. An Western army consisting of knights as well as the scum of the earth, blessed by a quite unwilling church, split by rivalling motives and powers. As I knew almost nothing about the Fourth Crusade before, I would probably have found an ordinary historical novel quite interesting, too, but some well-used magic adds a little spice to an already quite tasty soup. I sincerely recommend this book.

Karl Henriksson


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Other books by the same author:
The Golden Horn
The Hounds of God


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Henriksson & Henriksson 1997.