Videssos was beset by enemies abroad and had fallen into decadence at home. But on his first night in the imperial capital, The Empires health mattered less to Krispos than finding a dry place to sleep.
Driven by crushing taxes from the farm where his family had lived -- and died -- Krispos had come to the. city seeking what fortune a good mind and a strong back could earn. He had a single goldpiece to his name -- the gift, years past, of a nomad chieftain to a ragged peasant boy. Now, though the night was raw and the inn was warm, he was loath to spend that coin, for the barbarian had claimed it carried magic.
Keep his lucky goldpiece or trade it for a warm, dry bed? Krispos tucked the coin away and stepped back into the wet streets -- all unaware that so simple a choice would lead to a world of peril and possibility...
Because of rising taxes on his village and the untimely deaths of his parents and sister, young Krispos is forced to leave the family farm and seek his fortune elsewhere. He heads to the imperial city of Videssos, taking with him the magic goldpiece bestowed upon him as a child by the emperor. Krispos first gains employment as a groom for the lecherous Iakovitzes, but the stage is set for what will follow when a noblewoman, Tanilis, has a vision of Krispos as ``Majesty.'' Through Iakovitzes's political connections, Krispos eventually earns the trust of the lighthearted emperor Anthimos, and becomes his chamberlain, but he also earns the distrust of the emperor's uncle, Petronas, who casts a sorcerer's spell on the increasingly influential young man. This is only a temporary setback, however, as Anthimos quashes Petronas's imperial aspirations and sends him packing to a monastery. In this prequel to his Videssos Cycle series , Turtledove provides a thoroughly engrossing adventure about a young farmer, thrown to the wolves in the imperial city, who not only survives but rises above it all. (Feb.)
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January 13, 1991
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