James asks (with exquisite timing) if I’m going to write a book about the Normans. Not only is the answer yes, but for the next week (till Thursday the 22 of May) it’s running under a promotional price of $3.99 from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Writing a book is both about telling a story and finding an ‘angle’ – and one of the most interesting things for me was in telling a familiar story (the Byzantine revival under the Comneni Dynasty, the First Crusade, etc) from the Norman perspective. As a fan of Byzantium, characters like Guiscard, Bohemond, and William I were always the bad guys, dangerous thugs that successive emperors had to dance around to avoid being conquered. But the Normans of the south had to do their fair share of dancing too, and for one brief moment they not only mastered it, but outshone Constantinople itself. Palermo during its golden age had a splendor all its own.