Luigi Malerba: Il fuoco Greco [Greek Fire]


The latest addition to my website is Luigi Malerba‘s Il fuoco Greco [Greek Fire]. This is somewhat different from Malerba’s usual somewhat zany distorted reality and unreliable narrator. It is a historical novel set in Constantinople at the end of the tenth century, under the Byzantines. As the title says, it involves Greek fire, something that the Byzantines had developed and which was a closely guarded secret. It enabled them to successfully defeat a variety of enemies,as they fired it at the enemy ships through tubes and it would continue to burn even in water. Much of the novel describes the plotting, conspiracies and generally dirty deeds which seem to be a full-time occupation of the Byzantine elite. During the course of the novel, two emperors are overthrown and numerous people are killed tortured, exiled and shunted aside, often for dubious reasons. Malerba does not dwell too much on the details but does seem to enjoy all the plotting and, in particular, the philosophical discussions that go on around the plots. If you enjoy conspiracies and plotting, it is certainly an interesting novel, though sadly not available in English.

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