The Purple Shroud (2012): Stella Duffy

★★★

This sequel to Stella Duffy’s Theodora picks up the story two years after the conclusion of the earlier book, when Justinian and his wife are established as Emperor and Empress. It covers the next twenty years of their reign and shows how, as the most powerful woman in the Western world, Theodora must shift her priorities. Nothing less than the safety of the Roman world is at stake, and there are dangers everywhere: in religious dissention; in the war with Persia; and in the presence of those who believe the purple would become them – whether that’s the ambitious John the Cappadocian, or the unfortunate Hypatius, whose claim is picked up by the mob.

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Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore (2010): Stella Duffy

★★★

There isn’t enough historical fiction set in Byzantium (I’m open for recommendations!), and so I was very happy to find a copy of this book and its sequel, The Purple Shroud, in my local library. Although I read Antony Bridge’s biography of Theodora last year, I still don’t know as much about her as I’d like and I hoped that Duffy’s novel would throw some further light on the subject.

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