I love a good mystery thriller and one series that is establishing itself as one of my favourites is Chris Kuzneski’s Hunters series. Kicked off by the excellent The Hunters last year, the second, The Forbidden Tomb, is published today. Combining adventure, archaeology, mystery, danger and shocks (and a spot of banter), it’s every bit as good as the first, with the action shifting this time to Egypt and the hunt for the lost tomb of Alexander the Great. My review will follow very shortly but, in the meantime, I’m delighted to host the first stop in the Blog Tour for The Forbidden Tomb, with thanks to Headline, Bookbridgr and the author. In the guest post below, author Chris Kuzneski discusses his Top Five Historic Sites, all of which have featured in one of his thrillers, including the much-loved Payne and Jones series.
Top Five Historic Sites
During the past decade, I have written ten action-adventure novels—thrillers that span the globe and examine mysteries from the past. One of the best parts of my job is all the research that I get to do. Sometimes I actually travel to the places in my stories to get a better understanding of the location, and sometimes—particularly if there is a war going on or there are lots of snakes and/or cannibals—I immerse myself in books, pictures, and videos in the comfort of my air-conditioned home.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not afraid of reptiles. Far from it. The truth is I live in Florida so I’m able to study snakes by simply looking out my window. In fact as I type this, my mailman is being choked out by a python in my driveway. Normally I’d run outside and slice him free with my machete, but he has to learn how to save himself. Besides, have you ever tried to clean python blood from stone pavers? It’s a lot tougher than you’d think, plus the stench of death attracts gators.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah—my research! As a service to you, here are the five coolest historic sites from my years of research, and the book that each is featured in:
5) Bruges (The Prophecy) — Forget Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes; the true star of the movie In Bruges is the city itself. Located in the Flemish region of Belgium, Bruges is often called “the Venice of the North” because of its extensive canal system and Medieval charm. Perhaps its best-known structure is the Belfry of Bruges, a massive bell tower that stands guard above the historic city centre. If you stare at it long enough, you’ll realize the tower isn’t straight. It actually leans a meter to the east.
4) Orvieto (Sign of the Cross) — Situated on a large tuffaceous bluff in central Italy, the Umbrian city of Orvieto can be seen from miles away; yet in ancient days, it was nearly impossible to reach without permission thanks to the sheer cliffs of volcanic rock and the defensive walls that were built above. Used as a safe haven for the popes of the Middle Ages, a cylindrical well was dug 174 feet into the bluff to provide water in case the city was ever attacked. Access to the water was provided by two spiral ramps, served by two separate doors and lit by 70 windows, which allowed mules to carry water along an unobstructed path that featured 248 steps.
3) Neuschwanstein Castle (The Secret Crown) — Located in the German state of Bavaria, Neuschwanstein is so breathtaking that it inspired Walt Disney’s design of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland. Neuschwanstein was intended as a personal refuge for Ludwig II (the infamous Swan King), but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886. Since then over sixty million people have toured Neuschwanstein, and even more have admired it from afar.
2) Chichén Itzá (The Death Relic) — Built by the Maya sometime between 1000 and 1200 AD, El Castillo―the giant pyramid in the Mexican city of Chichén Itzá―served as a solar calendar. Each of the structure’s four stairways contains 91 steps. When counting the top platform as another step, the pyramid has 365 steps, one for each day of the year. The Maya angled the pyramid in such a way that sunlight, in the shape of a serpent, crawls down the balustrade at sunset during the spring and autumn equinox until it is reunited with its head below. At any one moment, the snake is nothing more than sunlight and a series of triangle shadows—cast by the western corners of the pyramid—but viewed with time-lapse photography, the serpent of light appears to slither along the railing.
1) Metéora (The Lost Throne) — Have you heard the expression, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’? My guess is whomever coined that phrase was trying to describe Metéora. Holy Trinity is one of six monasteries perched on natural rock pillars near the Pindus Mountains in central Greece. Known for its breathtaking architecture, Holy Trinity was built 2,000 feet in the air with two purposes in mind: protection and isolation. The hermits who designed it in 1475 AD climbed to the top of the rock with their bare hands but weren’t strong enough to carry supplies or a long enough rope to reach the valley below. So how did they get their equipment to the top? Believe it or not, they used kites. One monk stood at the bottom of the cliff and flew a kite high into the air. When the wind was right, he let it drift toward the top of the rock where another monk grabbed its tail. The long kite string was then tied to the end of a skinny rope, allowing the monks to pull it up the cliff. Then they used the skinny rope to pull up a thicker rope, and so on, and eventually all the supplies that they needed to build their fortress in the sky.
If you’d like to see pictures of any of these sites, please visit the virtual tour section of my website: http://www.chriskuzneski.com/tour. I actually take readers through my books, chapter by chapter, with photos and descriptions. A word of warning, though: the tours contain plot spoilers, so you should probably read my books first.
About the author
Chris Kuzneski is the international bestselling author of The Forbidden Tomb, The Einstein Pursuit, The Hunters, The Death Relic, The Secret Crown, The Prophecy, The Lost Throne, Sword of God, Sign of the Cross, and The Plantation. His thrillers have been published in more than twenty languages and are sold in more than forty countries. To learn more about him and his novels, please visit: http://www.chriskuzneski.com.