James Heneage


Add to shortlist



James Heneage founded the Ottakar's chain of bookshops in 1987 and built it into a business of 150 branches and £200 million turnover before selling to Waterstones in 2006. After that, he chaired the Cheltenham Literary Festival, was a Booker Prize judge, set up the Prince's Rainforest Project for HRH the Prince of Wales and started a literary festival entirely devoted to history, the Chalke Valley History Festival.

He is married with four children and lives in Wiltshire. He enjoys cartooning, travel, Tintin and playing in a rock and roll band, 'The Jimmy Heneage Experience.'



Destiny, inheritance, the world shifting from east to west. This is an epic novel set in an age of dramatic change.

Two men find themselves on different sides in one of the great battles of history. They are rivals in war, and, unknown to them, they are also rivals to inherit of one of the biggest fortunes in Europe. Even worse, they are rivals for the love of the same woman.

Siward, scion of a great family, commands the Varangian Guard and has vowed to defend the Roman Emperor to the last. Makkim, brilliant janissary general to the Sultan of the Ottomans, has vowed to make him the last.

Their vast inheritance, a banking and trading empire, lies in Venice, as does the famous courtesan they both love. She is the reason they will both find themselves fighting on the walls of Constantinople.



Publication DetailsNotes




The climactic third novel in the Mistra Chronicles sees its hero Luke finally come face to face with his destiny to save Byzantium.
Rome never fell. The empire continued as Byzantium. This epic historical novel concerns one man's role in saving the empire.

The Ottoman Turks are at the gates of Constantinople and Luke Magoris, descended from princes of England, has to find a fortune to build defences for his beloved Mistra, the last glorious outpost of Imperial Rome, as well as saving the Emperor. He turns to China, to the Ming Empire, for trade and to Renaissance Italy for its rapidly developing banks. Both are entirely new roles for Luke and his Varangian brotherhood and many pitfalls befall him. And yet the Varangian treasure - which only he can uncover - may hold the key to all.

This is a rich tale of clashing empires, trade wars and tempestuous love. It was the age, the early fifteenth century, when the fate of the world hung on the survival of Byzantium; an age that made the modern world.




The outstanding follow up to The Walls of Byzantium, in which a select band of soldiers led by Luke Magoris are given the mission of persuading Tamerlane to defend Constantinople. The great conqueror must turn his forces not to the East to conquer China – in the footsteps of his ancestor Genghis Khan – but to the West to fight the Ottomans, who otherwise would destroy Constantinople and the Byzantine empire.

Luke, torn away from the woman he loves and all he knows, is trained as a Mongol warrior to impress Tamerlane and his army before joining his fellow Varangian guards, descendants of the men who once brought a vital treasure out of Constantinople. It is this treasure, some say, that can still save the empire – uniting the Christian churches of the east and west in one final triumphant crusade to smite the Ottomans.

But the forces ranged against Luke and the Varangians are formidable: from Zoe Mamonas of Byzantium’s wealthiest family, who feigns both Ottoman and Venetian alliances in her determination to build an empire; to the merchants of Genoa, Florence and Venice, each striving for monopoly of trade and shipping; and the tangled family of Tamerlane vying for the succession and supremacy.

No longer an innocent patriot, Luke is caught in the crossfire and begins to question if his mission is honourable – or whether those who sent him have the best interests of Byzantium at heart.

THE TOWERS OF SAMARCAND is a powerful historical novel full of lively characters and enthralling scenes of battle, wealth, beliefs and trade in a part of the world that has always been in the grip of war.



UK: Quercus; Greek: Patakis

Set in the last decade of the fourteenth century, WALLS OF BYZANTIUM, opens as the Ottoman Turk, Sultan Bayezid, prepares his final assault on the Byzantine Empire. Only the little Despotate of Mistra in the Greek Peleponnese stands between him and his ultimate prize - Constantinople.

Four young people are drawn into this turbulent world. Anna Laskaris is the feisty daughter of the most noble family in Mistra. She has been betrothed in a political alliance to Damian Mamonas, but loves another: Luke Margoris, a Varangian guardsman whose ancestors, centuries before, hid a secret which has the power to unite the Christian world in its hour of need. Damian’s twin sister, Zoe, who is as cunning as she is beautiful, denied the Mamonas inheritance which she feels is hers, also sets out to find the Varangian treasure with, or without, Luke.

As events unfold and the kings of Christendom are persuaded to send the biggest crusade yet to the rescue of Byzantium, Luke finds that his destiny draws him east, away from Anna, to face a threat even more terrifying than Bayezid: the Mongol Horde under the merciless leadership of the murderous Tamerlane.

From Constantinople and Chios to Venice and Samarcand, WALLS OF BYZANTIUM, is an epic novel which brings to dramatic life the battles in the final years of Byzantium in a story of love and honour in a time of colliding empires.