A high point of civilization and artistic accomplishment, the Byzantine Empire has also been the object of great misunderstanding and prejudice. This is a portrayal of its cultural history focusing on its surreal landscapes and fantastic monuments.
The book starts in Istanbul and crosses the Sea of Marmara to travel through Anatolia, the region of Asiatic Turkey which was the source of the Empire's wealth and manpower. John Ash finds his way through a country of anachronisms and contrasts, of bloody feuds and frescoed cave-churches, of saints and sinners, of emperors and sultans.
The book introduces the reader to an exotic cast of characters, including the impassioned aesthete Theophilus, the great mystical poet Rumi, the bishop and necromancer Theodore Santabarenos and the Empress Theophano.