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Anna of Byzantium Mass Market Paperback – Oct 10 2000

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf; Reprint edition (Oct. 10 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440415365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440415367
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 1.6 x 17.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #120,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This uneven first novel is narrated by Anna, the first-born daughter of the Emperor of Byzantium, poised to inherit the throne. Inspired by the real Anna Comnena (1083-1153) who chronicled her father's reign in The Alexiad, the story begins in a convent, where 17-year-old Anna lives in exile. Most of the book flashes back to the princess's upbringing and her attempt on her brother John's life that led to her monastic imprisonment. Although the author successfully evokes an aura of claustrophobia within the castle and convent, she provides few details to distinguish one setting from another. The scenes in the throne room involving visiting dignitaries or soldiers do little to illustrate the pageantry or politics of the age, and the main characters lack definitionAwith the exception of the Machiavellian grandmother. Anna herself, with her education in history, classics and science, may reverse any preconceived assumptions about the ignorance and lowly position of women in the Middle Ages, but her character as portrayed here is not likable until the book's conclusion. Readers may not stay around long enough to witness her humbling fall from power and transition to scholar. Ages 10-up. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-10-The 11th-century Byzantine princess Anna Comnena was a remarkable woman. Designated as a child to inherit the throne, she was educated to be a ruler. She learned, from her mother and grandmother, to manipulate the intrigues and factions of the court, and when she was displaced as heir by her brother, she schemed, without success, to assassinate him and regain her position. In this novel, Anna tells her own story, looking back on her former life from the convent to which she has been banished. The first-person device serves well to focus the action on the princess and to build a plausible character study of a brilliant and tempestuous young woman frustrated and embittered by the loss of her expectations of achieving supreme power. However, the book exemplifies the difficulty of writing a historical novel about a real person. Anna's brother is depicted throughout as a spoiled monster who (in contrast to the brilliant Anna) refuses to learn to read. Yet historians characterize John's rule as one of personal virtue and administrative competence and tell that he forgave his sister for her many conspiracies against him. Barrett acknowledges in an afterword that she "changed some of the facts," but, unfortunately, it is the story she spins that will remain with young readers. Still, few books, with the notable exception of Peter Dickinson's The Dancing Bear (Little, Brown, 1972; o.p.), have as their backdrop the colorful and historically significant Byzantine Empire.
Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Victory Silvers on June 9 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The subject matter of this book makes it interesting: a look at the life of Anna Comnena, who was SUPPOSED to become empress. However, some problems abound in this book. First off, the beginning of the book lets us know what happens at the end! Secondly, Anna is not a very likable person in the book, so many times, I found it hard to feel bad for her. Lastly, I felt the author could have expanded on details. Except for the strong personalities of Anna's grandmother and her teacher, Simon, many other characters seemed to be merely window dressing. Don't get me wrong, the book was not HORRID. However, I think some more details and concentrating on characters might have enhanced it. If you are interested about Anna Comnena, I would say read this book. It does have it's exciting parts, and the author at the end tells you what she changed for the sake of fictionalizing the story, which is a nice touch. I also like how she includes a family tree at the beginning, so we can see how everyone is related.
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By A Customer on Feb. 27 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I must start off with saying that I have read hundreds of books over the last years of my life. Never, never have I picked up a book and been so captivated with it and so into it that I could be right there, right alongside the character and feel their pain and their loss. Anna Comnena is the daughter of Alexius Comnenus and Irene Ducas. The Ducases had once ruled the fair sized Byzantine Empire but exchanged their throne to the Comnenus with many bribes and marriages and threats. Alexius's family got the right to the throne and married a Ducas princess-Irene. And from this marriage came many healthy children (although only 3 are mentioned in this book-Anna, Maria, and John). However, Alexius's mother-Anna Dalassena is a power-hungry cold woman who takes Anna and turns her into a small version of herself with lessons on how to rule the empire since Anna Comnena is the rightful heir. However, Anna is headstrong and won't have anyone control her. And so in but a day, Anna's right to the throne is taken away-along with her betrothed, who dies not soon after anyway. And in Anna's place goes the gossipy, rude, cruel, lowly, brother of Anna and Maria-John, He is simply a tool of Anna Dalassena. Anna wants the right to rule and will stop at nothing to have her grand children on the throne so she can control them when the inherit the throne. However, John treats his sisters and mother and even his father as trash. Following the stripping of her title and her rights to the palace library and areas she once enjoyed, Anna's father dies after another military campaign. John is now king. However, irene will not see anyone other than Anna on the throne and so Anna and Irene plan to poison John and put Anna on the throne. However, they are caught in their actions.Read more ›
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By Maryam on Jan. 16 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Royalty seems like something that is perfect; but this is false in Anna Comnena's case. Ever since Anna's birth she has been proclaimed to be her father's chosen successor. Her life as a child is monotonous; she sits in the library with her teacher Simon, she has lessons on diplomacy from her grandmother, and she frolics and plays like any child with her sister Maria. However, a little while later a brother by the name of John is born. John seems like a threat to Anna and her claim to the throne. Though John looks like a threat, Anna's grandmother, Anna Dalassena keeps teaching her lessons on diplomacy so that one day Anna will be fit to rule the throne. It is only later that Anna realizes that her grandmother is a manipulative woman who will use Anna as a pawn to her liking even if Anna becomes empress. As Anna realizes this she begins to take drastic measures, and puts her fate into her own hands.
The only thing I disliked in this story was the portrayal of John. In the book, he was an obnoxious boy who only cared about himself, however later on in the book he made decisions that sounded merciful. Also, in the Author's Note, it is written that John was highly acclaimed by his people. Other than that note, the book was well written~!
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By Allyn on Aug. 10 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was first attracted to this book by its wonderful cover-I just had to know about the character depicted there! Anna Comnena is growing up in the Byzantine empire in the 1000's, and her intelligence and cunning has earned the throne someday. Anna's namesake and grandmother, Anna Dalassena, begins to teach her about the art of ruling and telling her about sometimes-dishonest ways to go about ruling. Under her grandmother's tutelage, Anna becomes more and more like her-hard and deceitful. The already-strained relationship between Anna's mother and grandmother becomes even more strained-Anna's mother wants Anna to be taught about honesty, caring, and justice, not manipulation. However, Anna's keen mind proves to be a threat to her grandmother, so much that she finds that throne might not be her own anymore...
"Anna of Byzantium" isn't totally exciting from the beginning, but if you contiunue reading you'll find that it builds until you just have to keep reading. This book was kind of special, because the inspiring heroine was a real person. Anna's tale is told a little stiffly at times, but characterizations of her mother, grandmother, and father are good, and we really get glimpse at this royal family's strained (to say the least) family life. Also interesting are the subtle references to customs (like veiling, marriage, and wearing purple cloth)that are woven through Anna's narrative. Here is an interesting book with an intelligent, inspiring heroine...get past the slow beginning and you'll be glad you kept reading!
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