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This sequel to the much-acclaimed Goldengrove centers on two summers at the seaside in the life of Madge Fielding—one as a teenager and another many years later as a grandmother.
In this exciting historical adventure, a famished, exhausted, and terrified boy drops from the tree in which he has hidden just as Constantine, last Emperor of the Romans, is about to receive his crown. Thus Piers Barber, shipwrecked young seaman from Bristol, England, now renamed Vrethiki (“lucky find”), becomes an unwilling talisman to the Emperor, for it has been prophesied that if even one person who is at his side when he takes the crown stays with him always, the City will not perish.
Jill Paton Walsh brings a meticulous eye for detail and storyteller’s skill to this tale of the fall of Constantinople and the siege that marked the end of the Byzantine Empire. Fractured by bitter rivalries and corruption, the City nevertheless inspired its defenders to extraordinary feats. Through the darkening months, Vrethiki finds renewed faith, inspired too to see the City as a vision worth dying for and the Emperor as his own true lord.
It is, perhaps, the fifteenth century and the ordered tranquillity of a Mediterranean island is about to be shattered by the appearance of two outsiders: one, a castaway, plucked from the sea by fishermen, whose beliefs represent a challenge to the established order; the other, a child abandoned by her mother and suckled by wolves, who knows nothing of the precarious relationship between Church and State but whose innocence will become the subject of a dangerous experiment.
But the arrival of the Inquisition on the island creates a darker, more threatening force which will transform what has been a philosophical game of chess into a matter of life and death…