Videssos Cycle: Volume Two: Legion of Videssos and Swords of the Legion
by Harry Turtledove
Cover Artist: Stephen Youll
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Del Rey Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345542595
Date: 16 April 2013 List Price $18.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The second volume of the Videssos cycle contains the novels The Legion of Videssos and Swords of the Legion. As the action begins, the land of Videssos is betrayed by those she trusted. Once again Marcus Aemilius Scarus and his legion are called to hold the line and hold the country together. But victory turns to tragedy when Marcus is betrayed by one he trusts. The scandal of his betrayal, leaves Scarus out of favor and alone. His loneliness leads him to reach out to the wrong people. The fallout from his actions will see him travel much further than he ever expected. But all journeys have a purpose, and his will help set the stage for the final confrontation with Avshar.
Viridovix is the lone Celt that came through with the Romans. Gorgidas is the lone Greek that was taken. After a tryst goes wrong, Viridovix is forced to flee Videssos. Gorgidas loses his lover and has nothing to stay for. They travel with an embassy to find new allies on the steppes to the North. When they become separated each meets new people and grows. When they are reunited, they are able to bring new allies to the fight against the Yezd and Avshar.
Volume I stayed focused on Scarus. In the second volume, there are more extended points of view from others. The multiple perspectives are needed to keep all of the characters involved. It also allows for the exploration of more cultures, from the steppes to the mountains of Erzerum and the deserts between Yezd and Videssos. In the end, they all must roll the dice, but will they roll Phos' Suns or the demons.
My strange connection for this volume was related to the action on the steppes. The novel I read just prior to the Videssos Cycle was called The One-Eyed Man. I won't go into the how it comes about, but I will say that when I saw the title, I immediately thought of The Legion of Videssos. Fans of historical fiction related to the Roman and Byzantine periods should find something here to enjoy.
For people new to the series and the world of Videssos, there are two other series, one standalone novel and a few short stories available. The two series are prequels. One details the adventures of Krispos as he rises from captured peasant to the throne. The other series tells of some early wars with Makuran. The standalone novel is an Origins story of Avshar and how he fell from Phos to Skotos. I highly recommend the whole series and all of the related novels and stories.
Although Harry Turtledove may never go back to the Videssos in his writing, there are several stories begging to be told. One is the story of Stavrikos, the first Emperor. Another is the potential meeting between the children of Scarus. There is also the founding of Vaspurkan.