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4.2 out of 5 stars
Anna of Byzantium
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2001
In my job as a children's librarian, I read many books for children and young adults. I loved Anna of Byzantium, and was shocked to see a reader call the book "racist."
I've had many young readers tell me that they loved this book. Not one of them ever mentioned feeling that it was racist. In fact, I first found out about Anna of Byzantium in a special issue of Book Links (a journal for librarians) that addressed the issue of multicultural literature (Dec. 2000/Jan. 2001)! Anna of Byzantium was a featured book.
The book is NOT racist. In fact, it is clear that Anna is showing how arrogant and self-centered she is, when she is unable to perceive the beauty of her companion, Sophia (Sophia is a Turk, one of many enslaved by the Greek rulers). As Anna grows and matures, she learns to respect and love Sophia. At the end, she wonders how she could ever have perceived her as ugly.
(. . .)
Anna thinks he is stupid because he can't read. But careful attention to the reading will show that he is dyslexic. Unfortunately, even today some people confuse the two. So it's understandable that a jealous big sister, living centuries before anyone ever heard of learning disabilities, would fall into that trap too.
If there were more than 5 stars to give to a book, I would give them to Anna of Byzantium!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2003
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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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2002
Anna the princess of the Byzantium Empire will be the succesor of her father. The birth of her micheivous baby brother threatens her right to the throne. Eventually she loses her right to the throne to her baby brother and is against Anna and her mother. Her father passes away which leaves Anna in an awkard position. By th will of the Emperor her brother, she gets sent to a cenventory and her mother is sent off to Asylum.
I greatly enjoy the book. At the end of each chapter it left meeh the reader hungry for more. The story was thrillinh, and it was very fun to read becasue it felt as if i was part of the conspiraory which was filled with many trangressions made by her grandmother and brother. The stay did not quite end the way a happy ending would, but even after i finished the book it makes meeh wonder what ever happened in the end to Anna and her family, even though it was historical fiction.
I chose this book mainly because of the briek description about the book on the back. Instantly, I felt the i had to read this book. I do not regret picking this book up, because it is my favorite, atleast for now.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2005
Slow to start-but by the middle you're hooked! This was my first historical novel and I don't regret it. I learned a lot about huge palaces, slavery, Byzantine general life and war with the Turks...

Anna Comnena is the daughter of the Emperor Alexius Comnenus (he won many battles and started fighting at a very early age), and Irene Ducas: we don't hear much about her. She's nice but too absent (I wished she appeared more in the story).

The Ducases and the Comnenus family are fighting for the empiril throne. That's why Alexius wants to marry Anna to Constantine Ducas: to stop the rivalry between the two families.

I was surprised to find out that Anna was supposed to get married so young, at the age of 13.

One of my favorite things was the beautiful relathionship between Anna and Sophia, her "slave". Sophia opened Anna's eyes, making her less selfish and egocentric.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2010
The 11th century Anna Comnena was her father's first-born and someday expects to rule the Byzantium Empire. She was taught by her mother and grandmother to direct the court. She seems almost heartless throughout the first half of the book when she unsuccessfully tries to kill her brother and regain her possition. Anna's brother is described as a spoiled monster who refuses to read. Their mother believes that he is not her child, but a devil that creeped into his bed one night. You can see by the end of the novel that Anna had a change of heart. She sees the truth and realizes the good in life and the importance of family. From reading this book, I feel like I learned very much about living in a royal palace and what it's like to be a princess and the daughter of an Emperor. If you enjoy Roman history or want to learn about the Byzantium Empire, this is one of the best books you could read!

-Elizabeth
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2002
I've been reading various historical fiction since I could read, and it doesn't get much better than this. With a realistic, captivating heroine, a breathtaking setting, and a truly gripping plot, I can honestly say that this is one of the best books I've ever had the pleasure of reading, in any genre.

Princess Anna has always had everything. As the firstborn and heir to the throne, with a loving mother and younger sister, doting father, and servants running to suit her every need, her future as empress is ashured, and it is a bright future indeed. But, with the birth of a son into the family, could Anna's place in history be threatened?
Like I said before, this was an excellent book, good for anyone over the age of ten or eleven.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2002
The book, Ana of Byzantium, by Tracy Barrett, is a story that takes place in the third century AD. This book contains what one might expect to find in a less-then-average book. Ana, the eldest daughter and a princess, is heir to the throne of the Byzantine Empire. Ana gets tutored on how to be an empress. Ana's grandmother, the mother of her father, who loathes Ana, convinces the emperor to make Ana's younger brother, John, the heir. When Ana's father gets fatally sick, and John becomes emperor, Ana has to find someway to take her rightful place as empress of the Byzantine Empire.
This book is not right for an average reader, because the book has nothing going on in the beginning. At the beginning, the book looks at what it would be like to be a nun. It takes a long time to get to where the actual storyline starts taking place, and even then, the beginning is completely irrelevant to the rest of the story. This book also lacks depth, and takes large jumps in time, leaving the reader hanging. There are no long pieces of time, and once one thinks he knows something, several years pass and everything changes. Because of this, one cannot get to know the characters well without them changing ages and personalities.
Some very patient readers may find this book interesting, because it must be read very slowly to be understood well. People who like history might also enjoy this book, because it takes place before the middle ages. Most historians will be disappointed by the lack of historical accuracy. This book just isn't quality reading material. Even the most patient readers will be disappointed in the lack of quality and description. If one doesn't mind not knowing about the characters, this is a fine book to read, but otherwise, this is a book that should be avoided. Overall, this is not a book that should
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2007
Anna is the heir to the Byzantium throne, which is quite the tough job for a teenager. Soon, though, Anna finds herself torn between her kind-hearted mother and her harsh and powerful grandmother. She faces all the difficulties of fighting parents, annoying siblings, boyfriends, and growing up (that is, moving from the selfishness of childhood into the selflessness of adulthood, moving from the weakness of dependence on adults to the independence of adulthood), but all in the sphere of royalty and in the Byzantium Empire. This is a beautiful, complex, dramatic, emotional, and thoroughly clever historical fiction. Grade: A
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2001
A delightful book on the life of a Byzantium princess. Anna, a strong, courageous girl, is determined to soon become a royal empress. But her hopes don't die when her little brother is born. Years later, she finds her whole hopes and dreams shattered as her brother and grandmother betray her. But Anna will not stop until she gets whats truely hers. I like how realistic it is. Some reviews say Anna is cruel, trying to kill her brother, but lets face the facts, this took place about 1,000 years ago and the world was way crueler. If you were royal and had that much power to get revenge, what would you do?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2001
A delightful book on the life of a Byzantium princess. Anna, a strong, courageous girl, is determined to soon become a royal empress. But her hopes don't die when her little brother is born. Years later, she finds her whole hopes and dreams shattered as her brother and grandmother betray her. But Anna will not stop until she gets whats truely hers. I like how realistic it is. Some reviews say Anna is cruel, trying to kill her brother, but lets face the facts, this took place about 1,000 years ago and the world was way crueler. If you were royal and had that much power to get revenge, what would you do?
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