Monday, January 13, 2014

Anna of Byzantium

Title: Anna of Byzantium 

Author: Tracy Barrett

Rating <3 <3 <3 <3

Read: PB 
(From now on this category will be included and will either be marked PB for Personal Book or  MRBD  which means its from my"must read before you die" list of books).  The only exception to this are arcs, which will be labeled.

Summary: Anna Comnena has every reason to feel entitled. She's a princess, her father's firstborn and his chosen successor. Someday she expects to sit on the throne and rule the vast Byzantine Empire. So the birth of a baby brother doesn't perturb her. Nor do the "barbarians" from foreign lands, who think only a son should ascend to power. Anna is as dismissive of them as are her father and his most trusted adviser--his mother, a manipulative woman with whom Anna studies the art of diplomacy. Anna relishes her lessons, proving adept at checkmating opponents in swift moves of mental chess. But as she matures into a young woman, her arrogance and intelligence threaten her grandmother. Anna will be no one's puppet. Almost overnight, Anna sees her dreams of power wrenched from her and bestowed on her little brother. Bitter at the betrayal, Anna waits to avenge herself, and to seize what is rightfully hers.

Review: Anna Comnena is living her worst nightmare born with a silver spoon in her mouth she has been brought up in a world of great privilege and at one point a commoner even turning their back on her could have meant their death.  Now the reader meets the young princess for the first time in the scriptorium of a nunnery in the mountains of the Byzantine empire, where she has been degraded to the point of trying to match wits with a graying old nun who likes to try to put the young upstart princess in her place.  Anna was brought up to believe that she would take her Father's place as the next express of the powerful Byzantine empire, but when she manipulates her Grandmother and metaphorically 'bites the hand that is feeding' her the keys to her Father's kingdom; her world comes crashing down around her as she is accused of heinous acts and she sees her spoiled young brother take what she believes to be her birth right.  

From the first page this was a book that brought out the wit and bright mind of the main character which I enjoyed seeing  especially in a woman of the middle ages who can sometimes be portrayed as having weak minds or not being as intelligent as men.  It was delightful imagining the scenes between the characters as they each fought for their rightful place in the dangerous dance that was the royal world of the middle ages in the Byzantine empire, the crusades, and the wars with the Turks.  I would've enjoyed more details of palace life, and of the lives of the young princesses, and their brother and familial relatives during their young years since that was where most of the story was based; but overall it was a good plot and easy to read and get drawn into.  Some chapters were a bit choppy and could've ended smoother but it was a very enjoyable read.  It intrigued me enough that I would like to learn more about this particular women in history she seems very feisty and intelligent.

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