Anna of Byzantium

Tracy Barrett, Author Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers $14.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-385-32626-1
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 definition--with 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)
Reviewed on: 05/03/1999
Release date: 05/01/1999
Mass Market Paperbound - 224 pages - 978-0-440-41536-7
Prebound-Glued - 209 pages - 978-0-7569-0130-1
Open Ebook - 107 pages - 978-0-307-78900-6
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-19742-7
Prebound-Glued - 224 pages - 978-0-613-28364-9
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