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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Chronicles of Kastania


If you're looking for a series of books similar to Game of Thrones. The Kastania Chronicles is for you. There are no dragons in this one, but plenty of vampire witches and other nasty creatures.
Tony Roberts has the most intriguing historical fiction set in a different world, but the characters and setting are a mirror of our world in history and present day. He's taken the Byzantine Empire and making it interesting.

I've just finished the seventh book in the Chronicles of Kastania: Sins of Sloth.

Starting with the first book, Astiros Koros is a lesser noble in charge of the army of Kastania. He's putting down a rebellion in Bragal, a province of the empire. The emperor, from the Focis family being ever greedy has denied the army any funds for a year and then decides to disband the army completely as it can't win battles.

Astiros has had enough and marches the army to Kastan City and by bribing the commander of the palace guard enters and kills the emperor. The army proclaims him emperor. He's not only facing the other noble houses that have for centuries plundered the treasury when their family had an emperor on the throne, but the high priest of the temple who condemns him usurping the throne.

What they're really upset about is that he is going to tax them. They've been tax exempt for centuries while grabbing every last copper coin in the treasury. 

When the high priest starts threatening Astiros with damnation he gets a lesson in manners while speaking to an emperor. He's banished from Kastan City upon pain of death and sent to another city across the sea. Throughout the entire series religion is very integral to the motives and plots against the Koros. The Venn and Tybar, hostile neighbors, are monotheistic, but with a different god. The temple is polytheistic. The temple insists the treasury build them temples, but they don't pay taxes and collect tithes from the people. Astiros is tired of them sucking money out of the treasury and citizenry and makes them pay taxes and build their own temples. 

The Venn and Tybar send missionaries into the empire to stir up trouble before attacking. I've never encountered a fantasy world where all of this is in play at the same time.  

The Koros family is Isbel, Asitos's second wife, eldest son Jorquel age 19, daughter Amne age 16 and two sons by Isbel: Argan age 5 and Istan age 1. They are the new imperial ruling family. 

Astiros sends Jorquel with a small army to supress a revolt in the north by the Druras famils and he returns to Bragal to suppress the revolt he was trying to put down when he was forced to kill the other emperor.

The Koros family is strong, intelligent, ruthless, and very very lusty. Especially the women. 

Isbel is given the job of weeding out treachery in the palace, finding a decent commander for the guard and creating a palace guard actually capable of guarding it. She then has to implement the new taxing laws and begin collecting them before she can supply the two armies in the field and start cleaning up Kastan City which has become crime ridden.

She also has to fend off assassination attempts, and the Duras and Focis families raise armies and their revolts have to be suppressed. 

Amne is given the task of being an ambassador to the country south of Bragal. She has a perilous journey, but secures an alliance so Mazag won't invade Bragal while it's weak and Astiros is able to suppress the revolt without having to worry about invasion.

As if that wasn't enough to worry about to the east are the Venn wanting to carve a chunk of the dying empire for themselves and to the west are the Tybar trying to do the same. 

Each book has the family facing new dangers from without and within. Astiros pacifies Bragal, Jorquel puts down numerous revolts by the Duras and Focis. Amne returns from her misson to Mazag and is forced to marry a man she despises, but it's a union of two noble families to help against the others, Argan is growing into a fine young man and is bright and charismatic, Istan is a spoiled monster.

By Sins of Sloth the seventh book just released. Astiros has died, Jorquel is emperor and retaking parts of the empire lost to the Tybar. Argan is governor of a province supporting Jorquel's base. Isbel with her lover is running Kastan City and overseeing the empire. Amne has divorced Elas her hated husband and with her lover is ruling a province. Istan is Prince of the East and has taken land back from the Venn, but he's pouting about not being able to advance further while Jorquel is fighting in the west.

The son of Astiros and a Bragalese vampire witch is leading a revolt in Bragal. The Bragalese vampire witch lover of Argan, also carrying his child. is sent as governor of Bragal to put it down. It gets complicated.

 The politics, graft, corruption, religious fanaticism, intrigue, assassination and the fight to revive a dying empire by a heroic noble family facing insurmountable odds, makes this an epic tale that I have devoured with every book and wait anxiously for the next one to come out.

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