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The Sheen on the Silk

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

powerful historical thriller

In 1273 physician Anna Zarides learns that her twin Justinian has been proclaimed guilty as a conspirator of murdering Bessarion Comnenos. She refuses to believe her sibling would kill the prominent politically connected victim, who was perhaps the most powerful oppone...
In 1273 physician Anna Zarides learns that her twin Justinian has been proclaimed guilty as a conspirator of murdering Bessarion Comnenos. She refuses to believe her sibling would kill the prominent politically connected victim, who was perhaps the most powerful opponent of the Byzantium Empire merging with Rome.

Anna, dressed up as the eunuch Anastasius Zarides, crosses the Bosporus to Constantinople to find proof her brother, living in exile in Judea, is innocent. She quickly builds up a thriving medical practice among the traders as well as some of the influential people like Emperor Michael, Orthodox Bishop Constantine and the late Bessarion's mother-in-law Zoe Chrysaphes the poisoner. However, in spite of her growing clientele, Anna makes little progress in finding evidence to exonerate her sibling as the city's Christians are divided into factions over whether the Holy Ghost exists. The power struggle between the Pope, the Holy Roman Emperor and the Byzantium Emperor and others threaten the well being of the innocent.

This is a powerful historical thriller in which the real major events of a critical but tumultuous era supersede the fictional cast and the whodunit. The story line is fast-paced due to all that is happening on the world stage while the inquiry moves along much slower as that serves more as a subplot mechanism to enable the audience to follow the religious and political turmoil. With a nod to Baudolino by Umberto Eco (though seven decades later); readers will relish a trip back in time to thirteenth century Constantinople, the cross between Rome and the Holy Land.

Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on March 5, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Great Story if You're Not Looking for Accuracy

The story in this book is compelling, the characters well-developed and the setting becomes real. However, while the author researched Byzantine politics well she appears to have left it at that and used more of her imagination than facts for her writings on the Orthod...
The story in this book is compelling, the characters well-developed and the setting becomes real. However, while the author researched Byzantine politics well she appears to have left it at that and used more of her imagination than facts for her writings on the Orthodox church within the story. Whenever possible, the church is slandered, belittled or its members made to look more unchristian than the nonchristians in the story. If you can get past that, it's a good read. If you look at the actual historical events in the Orthodox Church at the time period, it's not nearly as portrayed in the story. It appears to be one more author out to smear anything to do with God and Church- like there isn't enough of that already?

posted by EduK8R on August 13, 2011

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  • Posted July 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Fun historical fiction

    The Sheen on the Silk is a fun read. It's long, there are a lot of characters involved, but it's an interesting look into the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Byzantine Empire. The story centers around a young woman, Anna, who travels to Byzantium to find out the circumstances surrounding her brother's exile.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    A Romantic Adventure

    Anne Perry's exhaustive research into historical details serves her well in this gripping story of ancient Constantiople. Although the political goings-on are somewhat tiresome, the intrigue of the Byzantine world winds through the narrative like a brightly colored, but deadly serpent. Here's to hoping there is a sequel in the works (or better yet, a new series.)

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  • Posted April 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Always a fan of Anne Perry

    Started reading her books long ago. This is a different but equally compelling historical novel. The physical descriptions of both the people and the settings allow the reader to picture the characters and settings.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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