'A compelling detective story of the highest order, In the Shadow of the Sword is also a dazzlingly colourful journey into the world of late antiquity . . . A profoundly important book' Christopher Hart, Sunday Times'Beating a path from the height of the Persian Empire established in AD 224 to the rise of the Abbasid caliphate in 750, Holland's new book traces the process by which the world of the first millennium came to be dominated by one God, three religions and an innumerable succession of emperors' Dan Jones, Daily Telegraph'It is difficult not to be bedazzled by a cast that includes ulcerated Christian holy men, Zoroastrian priests obsessed with dental hygiene, demonic emperors, barbarians with self-inflicted cranial deformities, perfumed Persian monarchs and Arab ambassadors stinking of camel' Richard Miles, Financial Times'I found myself amused, diverted and enchanted by turn . . . He writes with a contagious conviction that history is not only a fascinating tale in itself but is a well-honed instrument with which we can understand our neighbours and our own times, maybe even ourselves' Barnaby Rogerson, Independent von Holland, Tom
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