Imperial Purple

Gillian Bradshaw, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $18.95 (324p) ISBN 978-0-395-43635-6
Bradshaw ( Beekeeper's Daughter and Beacon at Alexandria ) creates a compelling fictional character, Demetrias. Wife and mother, well-born slave, she is the premier silk weaver working in fifth century Tyre, where life and commerce revolve around the precious purple dye that symbolizes the power of imperial Rome. When Demetrias is assigned to weave a cloak in the proscribed imperial color, but not of measurements to fit Emperor Theodosius II, she realizes that treachery is afoot, but refusal is not a slave's option. Her survival depends on devising a strategy to save her life and those of her family. The plot twists and turns through a diorama of actual events involving historical figures, notably Demetrias's encounter with the emperor's formidable sister, Pulcheria. Historical novels are stamped by both the writer and the backdrop of an era; Imperial Purple is doubly embossed with strength in a style that will appeal to readers of Robert Graves and Mary Renault. The author's historical afterword further illuminates the turbulent Byzantine era. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
Genre: Fiction
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