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Videssos is a series of fantasy novels by American writer Harry Turtledove.

The Videssos novels[edit]

  • The Videssos cycle
    • The Misplaced Legion (1987)
    • An Emperor for the Legion (1987)
    • The Legion of Videssos (1987)
    • Swords of the Legion (1987)
  • The Tale of Krispos Series
    • Krispos Rising (1991)
    • Krispos of Videssos (1991)
    • Krispos the Emperor (1994)
  • The Time of Troubles Series
    • The Stolen Throne (1995)
    • Hammer and Anvil (1996)
    • The Thousand Cities (1997)
    • Videssos Besieged (1998)
  • The Bridge of the Separator (2005)


"Videssos" can mean either the Empire of Videssos, or its capital city. The Videssian Empire is very similar to the Byzantine Empire, and much of its history and geography is analogous to Byzantine history. The main differences are the religion, the existence of magic as a usable force, and some details of the history of surrounding states. These states strongly resemble neighbours of Byzantine Empire - for instance Makuran is Sassanid Persia and Vaspurakan is Armenia (Vaspurakan is in reality a historic Armenian province). The map shown of the known world in the time of the various Videssos stories is a very loose east-for-west flip-flop of the Mediterranean.

Like Byzantium, Videssos is an absolute monarchy, ruled by an Emperor. The Emperor is assisted by a numerous, influential bureaucracy, which is powerful enough to have been able to enforce its choice for the throne, even in the face of military opposition; the bureaucracy and military are traditionally rivals for power and influence. Even Videssian offices and titles are the same as the Byzantine ones (autokrator, sebastokrator, vestiarios, drungarios).

The Videssian emperors and their history strongly resemble the Byzantine emperors.

The Videssian Empire is rather feudal, with powerful landowners wielding great influence. The class of yeoman farmers, who provided much of the best recruits for the military, is dwindling, analogously to what happened at several stages of Byzantine history.


Everything within Videssian life centers around religious beliefs. There are varied types of beliefs from pantheons of gods, spirit/demon worship, and dualist belief. The most widespread belief is in the dualist faith of Phos, the god of light, and Skotos, the dark god. The core of this faith is that Phos and Skotos will battle and only one will emerge. Even in this belief there is nuanced variations that lead to enmity between different countries.

  • Empire of Videssos and the Kingdom of Agder - Believe that in the end Phos will be victorious. Slang "Cocksures." This is the original, orthodox, belief. Videssian religion is dualist, with a good god, Phos (Greek for light) and his evil counterpart, Skotos (Greek for darkness). In some ways, this religion is very similar to Orthodox Christianity, with nearly identical organization, veneration of icons and saints. In other ways, it resembles Zoroastrianism, in particular with its belief in a narrow bridge walked by all souls upon death; the wicked tumble off, unbalanced by their sins, to Skotos' icy hell, while the souls of the virtuous make it across.
  • Duchy of Namdalen - the fight between the two gods is balanced, but you should stake your soul on the favorable outcome of Phos. Slang "Gamblers."
  • Thatagush, Khatrish, and Kubrat - the fight between the two gods is perfectly balanced and what you believe or do makes no difference. Slang "Balancers".
  • Vaspurakan - believe that they and their land was founded by Vaspur, son of Phos. Slang "Princes." Vaspurakan is not a proper country, lying in between the Empire of Videssos and Yezd. It has been torn claimed by both sides at numerous times.
  • Yezd - Skotos will emerge victorious. Yezd is the resulting country from a nomad invasion of the Makuran Empire by nomadic Yezda led by Avshar, high priest of Skotos.
  • Makuran - The former Makuran Empire had followed a monotheistic religion which venerated a creator deity known simply as "The God", represented on earth by the Four Prophets. Many Makurani still follow the Four Prophets secretly.
  • Haloga - Believe in a pantheon of gods roughly analogous to the Norse deities of the real world Vikings. Though heathen, they are afforded a degree of grudging respect by the mostly intolerant residents of the Empire of Videssos. They are mostly accepting of the Halogai's beliefs, believing that at the very least their worship practices instill in them a sense of courage and justice, though many Videssians still believe the Halogai to be damned to the inevitable fate of all heathens and non-believers.
  • Kamorth nomads of Pardrya and Arshaum nomads of Shaumkhiil - spirit/demon worship.

The basic prayer of those who follow Phos is "We bless thee, Phos, Lord with the right and good mind, by thy grace our protector, watchful beforehand that the great test of life may be decided in our favor." To this those of the Duchy of Namdalen append "On this we stake our very souls."

It is postulated by Gorgidas in the Videssos Cycle that the variants of the Phos beliefs have to do with political and ethnic reasons rather than true belief. He states that the Vaspurakanur belief in their direct descent from Phos was a way to separate themselves from Videssos and maintain a separate social structure. The Balancer beliefs are flat out stated to have come out of the barbarian invasions of areas of the Empire. Those who survived these centuries of attacks were no longer certain of the inevitable victory of Phos.

There are no noted variations of the followers of Skotos.