Orion has acquired the debut novel of historian and television presenter Neil Oliver entitled Master of Shadows.
Jon Wood, managing director Orion Fiction, bought British Commonwealth (excluding Canada) and European rights from Eugenie Furniss of Furniss Lawton in the book and a sequel.
Master of Shadows is a historical novel set in the days leading to the Fall of Constantinople. It follows the fortunes of John Grant, a young Scottish man who possesses skills that make him invaluable to an emperor facing invasion.
Wood said: “Master of Shadows is one of the most remarkable debut novels that I have seen. Beautiful writing, epic scope and a deep, vivid re-imagination of history combine to form a truly unique whole. Neil Oliver has always been an expert teller of stories, now he brings that skill to a wonderful first piece of fiction”.
Oliver said: “I have always loved writing – fiction and non-fiction. The process of writing a novel was a mix of pain and pleasure, but mostly the latter. The experience of completing this novel has been inspirational for me. I will certainly be making more and more room for making stuff up – it’s just too much fun to resist.”
Of writing about John Grant, a real historical figure who played a key role during the siege of Constantinople, he added: “I found it great fun to imagine John Grant’s back story and to work out what, to me, seemed like plausible reasons for him finding himself in that place at that time. He is real – but the story I have created for him is entirely a work of fiction.”
Oliver is a Scottish archaeologist, historian, broadcaster and writer. He presents the BBC's flagship series “A History of Scotland” and previously presented the multi-part documentary series “Coast”, as well as writing its tie-in book. He studied archaeology at Glasgow University and now lives in Stirling with his wife and three children.
Orion will publish Master of Shadows in hardback on 10th September 2015, with its sequel planned for release in 2016.