Book Blurb

Byzantium stretches a weakening grip across Eastern Europe, trying in vain to hold onto all that has made it an empire. Tyrian purple, the unique dye that denotes its power, is held under close guard by the imperial house.
However a Jewish merchant from Venice has sourced an illegal supply and Tobias the dwarf minstrel and his twin brother, Tomas, begin a dangerous journey to retrieve the purple and deliver it into the merchant’s eager hands.
But is this supply as secret as they had hoped?
Trade is cut throat, men are expendable, money is power and Constantinople provides the exotic backdrop during a time of scimitars and shadows.
This is Tobias – the story of a minstrel and a broken life…

 My review

Prue Batten never ceases to amaze me with her embroidered prose, her unique characters and her meticulous research. Her new novel, Tobiasbook 1 in the Triptych Chronicle, offers a gallery of unforgettable characters and so many delicious moments of beauty to her readers. With Prue Batten you can count on high quality prose.

The unusual hero of this  new medieval tale is a dwarf minstrel, Tobias,  with a sharp mind, a sharp wit, a beautiful singing voice, a love for books and a good story,  who can as well handle a dagger,  when the occasion occurs.   The experience of seeing the world from Tobias ‘s singular perspective, the enchantment of his music, the gift of his sensitivity and the uniqueness of his persona make the narration of his adventures peculiar, gripping and also moving..

Minstrels were first and foremost entertainers. They have lived on in our imagination with their figure wearing bright parti-colored  costumes riding on a costumed horse from castle to castle, singing as they went with a lutes thrown across their back.  Tobias and his twin brother, Tomas,  are not only minstrels, though, they are also spies at the service of Sir Guy of Gisborne and his wife, Lady Isabel.

Often in their convoluted lives, Tobias and Tomas had been left with a decision to be made. Invariably, rather than examining a potential outcome, they would make a quick decision by tossing a coin. Inevitably it worked. Tobias said it was because the Saint of Good Gamblers sat at their shoulder. After all, what else was life for people like he and Tomas but a gamble.  

Like any good medieval hero, Tobias, loyal to his Lord, has his own quest to fulfil and it is a risky top-secret one: he and his mates set out from Venice to find the mythical Tyrian purple, which makes their voyage at sea to Crete, Instanbul and Constantinople exotic, thrilling, epic.  The Byzantine Empire and the golden Orient are at the same time  so different from and yet so close to our modern world:   an ancient reality characterized by a blend of races, cultures and languages, a greedy society focused on material welfare and unscrupulous ambition that so much reminds us of our own time's globised world. 

Read an excerpt from chapter 7

“The paved streets of Constantinople were wider than Tobias had expected but perhaps not as ordered, not as linear as he thought they would be. Thus they switched and turned quite frequently as they walked away from the docks. The thoroughfares throbbed with activity, with people flooding inns and covered markets before curfew. Toby found word after word placing itself into motets as he observed the mixture of foreign faces and tongues, his eyes widening at the scale the of the city. The Byzantine Empire was supposedly shrinking to a pinhead, a fact marked by the density surrounding him. But he couldn’t care about the Empire – he was in awe of the polished buildings around him. Unlike Venezia which grew haphazardly like an awkward but charming young adult that had inherited riches, or like Genova that watched Venezia over its shoulder, both wanting to win the race to dominate the sea and its trading potential. London and Paris grew untidily and were too dominated by Church wealth and yet here, Byzantine Christian churches sat at every corner, pretty little gems that formed a crown of astonishing beauty. But then, as they rounded corners and crossed streets, Toby knew society was the same everywhere. The poor scavenged in the gutters, the merchant class pretended they were nobility and the nobles clustered in poisonous groups around any regal household”

Quick paced and packed with great twists and turns, Tobias will take you on an exciting ride which will fill your senses and your imagination of rewarding emotions till the unexpected lyrical finale. 

 Praise for Tobias

“Tobias by Prue Batten is an epic tale of courage, rebellion, helping the right and fighting the wrong. In just under 200 pages, Batten has given you a complete novel, rounded characters, a flexible plot and an action filled storyline that will fulfill your thirst for an epic story. With crisp dialogues and genuine emotions, Batten has created characters that will live for a very long time in your mind. Plus, her clarity of thought and her way of portraying her thoughts is nothing short of phenomenal. I really hope that there will be more novels with Tobias!” (Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite USA) 

"This is a wonderful book: mystery, thriller, psychological and emotional exploration, and history. Prue Batten is one of the great historical novelists." (Amazon.com, customer review)
 Buy Tobias at  Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

The author says …

Tobias became my friend when I wrote about him in two earlier books. He is everything I would want in a close confidante – funny, creative, irreligious and so very loyal. In addition, he is the kind of fighter one would want at one’s back.
I didn’t ever think I would write an entire novel about him until one day my editor said that Tobias had a story to tell. I asked Toby what he thought and in the typical manner of a troubadour he answered ‘Of course! A chanson de geste!’ And he gave me his blessing” (Prue Batten from an interview  at http://www.julietmarillier.com/2015/09/03/author-interview-prue-batten-and-tobias/)
About Prue Batten
Prue was born in Australia and studied history and politics at the University of Tasmania. She has worked as a hotel cleaner, a cosmetician in a major department store, and a bookseller. But most properly she has been a journalist/researcher for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation where she met her husband, also a journalist and subsequently a media executive, now a communications consultant and farmer. She now farms in Tasmania with her husband, in a cropping and grazing operation. 
She spent almost ten years as a state coordinator for the cancer therapy program Look Good Feel Better and time as walker for Riding for the Disabled and for the local Dogs' Home. She has two adult children, two dogs, and claims she has too much garden and too little time to write.
 Prue writes historical fantasy for which A Thousand Glass Flowers (Book Three of the quartet, The Chronicles of Eirie) received a silver medallion in the 2012 Readers' Favorite Book Awards in the USA. She also writes historical fiction, for which Gisborne: Book of Pawns received an Honourable Mention in the 2012 Golden Claddagh Writing Contest (USA), a 2013 Rone Award (USA) and a 2014 Indie Book Readers' Appreciation Group's gold medallion (USA). The Huffington Post has done a story on her work and she has been interviewed a number of times by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. She has concluded Tobias, the first in an historical fiction trilogy called The Triptych Chronicle and which escalated to Top 100 with Amazon.co.uk (Biographical Fiction) within a day of being released. She has also completed two fantasy short stories which are to be published as e-books in 2015. 
Each of her e-novels have ranked unbroken in Amazon.co.uk's Top 100 since publication and continue to rank, for which she thanks all her readers! She is currently writing the second in The Triptych Chronicle, entitled Guillaume.


Follow this link to win a paperback copy of Tobias + The Gisborne Trilogy at  Prue Batten’s site. Good luck, eveyone! 

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