By Harry Turtledove
In a universe during which Constantinople by no means fell, the Byzantine Empire has flourished via constructing know-how and spreading its impact yet unearths itself on the mercy of its jealous enemies.
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God with us. Tekmanios’s priest, though, had imagination. Instead of ending the prayer service so abruptly, he led the army in a hymn composed by that great author of religious poetry, St. Mouamet. “There is no God but the Lord, and Christ is His son,” Argyros sang with the rest. St. Mouamet was a favorite of his, and after Paul probably the most zealous convert the church had ever known. Born a pagan in an Arabian desert town, he came to Christianity while trading in Syria and never went home again.
The three horsemen could not have been more alone. ” “I made a mistake at the officers’ meeting,” Argyros replied. He tried to leave it at that, but Bardanes and Alexander were waiting expectantly, so he went on, “I showed Hermoniakos to be in the wrong for taking Constantine Doukas to task. ” “That is the way of things when you mix in the quarrel of men above your station,” Alexander said with Arab fatalism. ” “Lions and bears,” Bardanes snorted. ” “No one did,” Argyros said. “I know,” Bardanes said cheerfully.
Eventually Tekmanios’s attention wandered down to the far end of the table. ” “The devil is more often spoken of than seen, but this once I think his excellency Lord Doukas may be right,” Argyros said. That earned a hard look from Hermoniakos, who had been well disposed toward him until now. Sighing, he plunged ahead with the story of the tube he had seen in the hands of the white-haired Jurchen. “I thought at the time it had to do with the evil eye,” he finished. “That’s nonsense,” one of the regimental commanders said.
Agent of Byzantium by Harry Turtledove