Byzantium Review

Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead is a historical fiction novel which, simply put, is absolutely amazing. Set around 900 CE, it revolves around a group of monks in modern day Ireland. Wanting to present one of their most lavish gifts created to the emperor in Constantinople, a pilgrimage was required. Thus are we introduced to Aidan and his long and arduous journey. There is just something I find very soothing when reading about monks and their monastic ways. While many consider it boring, I find it fascinating and actually very addicting. Byzantium is your classic novel of adventure, happiness, cruelty, sadness, feats of miracles, testing of one’s faith and meeting friends in some of the most bizarre and mysterious ways.

Misery, I have learned, is not content. It is restless and multiplies without ceasing.


Readers sensitive to violence need to beware, however. Although this is a work of fiction and having read countless dark fantasy novels to almost becoming numb to it, there were a couple of scenes in here that even I thought were a bit too much. The majority of the novel, however, will be spent more in dealing with Aidan and his transformation. It’s one of those things where you can sort of predict and see coming long before it is revealed, as one can only remain positive for so long in such a cruel world, but that didn’t prevent me from burning page after page of this novel wanting to discover how our dear monk Aidan will survive his next dangerous ordeal.

Do not fret because of evil men, or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they soon wither and die away.


I found no major issues with the pacing or writing of this novel. Being a first read from this author, I’m pretty impressed. I’ve always found it odd that while I’m not an overly religious person myself, reading about religion, especially in these historical fiction type novels, can peak my intrigue so much. Aidan’s faith through all the good and bad reflects so much of typical humans. Everything is kosher with God until it is not. What then? This is a theme that obviously has been played out countless times in movies and other novels. Byzantium made me feel so close to Aidan through the thick and thin, and requires some personal reflection after the novel has ended.

Why must my loyalty be always put to the test? Am I so unreliable, so inconstant that those above me cannot trust me otherwise? What is it about me that fills everyone with such doubt?


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