The Rite of Trebizond and Other Tales

by Mark Valentine, John Howard
Release date: October 2008
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: fantasy, horror, short stories

Almost five years have passed since we last heard anything from that monarch of dim visions and recondite Mysteries, The Connoisseur. There were whispers of a long planed retreat in the sun stricken Mithraic caves of Cappadocia. Or was it to a mysterious and unnamed Coptic monastery in Alexandria? Others sustained The Connoisseur was captured by a group of Armenian ether drinkers, somewhere in an unknown village in Prussia. Something about a terrible “black ikon” was mentioned. A year ago, the author himself claimed that The Connoisseur was dying. Confronted with such contradictory, ambiguous and indeed – uneasy information, we decided to find out the truth on our own. We are pleased to say we have good news. The Connoisseur is alive and sends his august regards. For proof, we have three new long tales to infirm all rumors.

Enter through one carved door, and you are in a lost domain, an English enclave with its own rights and privileges, the sanctuary of an ancient and holy lineage, at the start of a strange quest that leads to the Black Sea and beyond. The fissure in another wall reveals a garden cinema, built in the New Egyptian style for a curious purpose, where visions of the future are not only seen on film. A third entrance leads to the hidden manufactory of an esoteric incense-maker, who deals in lichen and mummy dust, yew-berries and rare resins: has he the craft to undo the oldest, gravest curse of them all? And what is the significance of the red elephant and the ruined abbey?

Mark Valentine & John Howard offer here three new excellent episodes from the casebook of the aesthetical occult detective, The Connoisseur, whose adventures have been described as “curious and wonderful” and “shot through with authentically fin-de-siècle gleams of decadence”. Four further stories complete the collection. What is the significance of the shining coin found by a churchyard wall, and how does it involve two adepts of the Imperial Exploration Service? Here, a simple talisman opens up remarkable possibilities. What is the secret of Prince Zaleski and what exactly was the role of the Herb Committees during the War? And what if a great Edwardian artist of the macabre really had illustrated the keynote book of verses by the young and fervent poet of Samarkand? In this final tale, as with the other six, we are led to see singular visions that do not quite stay on the page.


  • "The Rite of Trebizond" by Mark Valentine & John Howard
  • "The Serpent, Unfallen" by Mark Valentine & John Howard
  • "The Temple of Time" by Mark Valentine & John Howard
  • "Mrs. Wintergreen" by Mark Valentine
  • "Out of the Obelisk" by Mark Valentine & John Howard
  • "Prince Zaleski's Secret" by Mark Valentine
  • "Sime in Samarkand" by Mark Valentine
updated 2011-01-10

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