Title: Anna of Byzantium
Author: Tracy Barrett
Major Themes: Byzantine Empire, Crusades
Synopsis: Anna, the oldest child of the Byzantine Emperor, is to be the heir to the throne—until her grandmother turns her father against her.
I don’t believe I have ever found another book set in the Byzantine Empire. Because we are studying that era of history right now, I decided to read Anna of Byzantium to my sons. They enjoyed the suspense, but I can’t say it was a favorite of ours.
Anna, the oldest child of Alexius I Comnenus, is to inherit his throne. From birth, she has been groomed to become the empress after her father’s death. Her grandmother is teaching her everything she needs to know to be a great empress—how to make and break treaties, how to wage war. . . . Anna’s mother wants to teach her kindness and justice, but Grandmother claims that Anna’s mother is weak and unfit to teach the future empress. Then, one day, suddenly, Anna’s place as heir of the throne is given to her younger brother. Anna is enraged, and plots revenge.
As a picture of the Byzantine court, Anna of Byzantium is a fairly good story. It seems to be based on historical fact. I didn’t find it a great story on its own, however, to my disappointment.
Listening Level—Ages 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults