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Anna of Byzantium

by Tracy Barrett
Publisher: Random House
Mass market paperback, 209 pages
Price: $6.99

Historical Setting: Byzantium, 11th Century

Anna has always known that she is the heir to the throne of the vast Byzantine Empire, and that she will someday marry her cousin Constantine to unite the Comnena and Ducas dynasties. Her proud and cunning grandmother, chief advisor to Anna's father the Emperor, takes Anna under her wing to teach her statescraft, grooming her for the throne. Anna is strong-willed, proud, and ambitious, and haughtily resists her grandmother's attempts to manipulate her. But soon she will learn what lengths her grandmother will go to in order to maintain her grip on the throne of Byzantium.

Anna Comnena is most famously known as the female historian who completed the Alexiad, a historical work detailing the life and reign of her father Alexius I Comnenus. Anna of Byzantium covers her younger years as a Greek princess in her father's palace, and the struggle for power between her father and mother over who would inherit the throne. Anna's life in the palace, her power struggles, political entanglements, intrigue, and attempted assasinations all occur to her before the age of sixteen.

Taking into account that Anna has been told from childhood that she will one day be the most powerful woman in the world, it's not surprising that her sense of self-worth is unnaturally inflated. At the beginning of the book she's conniving, haughty, and ambitious, and when she is humbled she initially responds with bitterness and a thirst for revenge. But being brought low eventually teaches her the power of forgiveness as she begins to realize that the downfall of the treacherous is inevitable.


Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time.
You can read more of her reviews here.

 

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