Book Review: Anna of Byzantium

Anna of Byzantium by Tracy Barrett
Anna of Byzantium
by Tracy Barrett 

4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads


This historical novel tells the story of Anna Comnena, daughter of Emperor Alexius I, Princess of the Byzantine Empire in 1083 AD. Anna is in line to inherit the throne and someday rule the entire empire, until her grandmother plots against her to undermine Anna’s right to rule and establish Anna’s little brother, John, as the next emperor.

Anna is incredibly intelligent and well-educated, spending hours pouring over history books in the palace library and learning from the scholars there. She also becomes very good at seeing to the heart of people’s character, using her emotional intelligence to understand their hidden motives.

There are so many manipulative people in the palace, using their words to influence Anna and secure their own futures. Since she is surrounded by lies, Anna becomes obsessed with cherishing the truth, seeking truth in religion and philosophy, and also finding truth in her books and manuscripts. Because others use words as their weapons, Anna learns to play a strategic game with her words, using her speech as a way to protect herself and assert her dominance and power in the political games. Continue reading

Book Review: Far Traveler

Far Traveler by Rebecca Tingle
Far Traveler 
by Rebecca Tingle

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Ælfwyn is a shy, bookish maiden in Anglo-Saxon England, caught in the middle of her uncle the king’s political plots. When the king forces her to choose between marrying an old man or becoming a nun, Ælfwyn runs away to become a singing bard on the open road. But circumstances drag her back into her uncle’s clutches, and desperate men try to use her position in the king’s family for their own political gain.

I really identified with Ælfwyn’s character, because she loves to read. She is shy, and is frightened to ride the large and powerful horse her mother gives her. For most of the book, she depends on other people to tell her what to do and where to go, but when it really matters, she makes her own decisions, discovering courage and resilience from deep inside.

I liked the writing style in this book. It really pulls you in to the story, painting a picture of Old England with a few settings, people, and events drawn from real history. I especially liked the scenes when Ælfwyn is on the road, singing her songs and telling stories from her books to entertain the common people.  Continue reading

Book Review: The Book of Boy

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

The Book of Boy
by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

A young hunchback goatherd named simply “Boy” is indentured as a servant to a shrewd pilgrim traveling through France in search of various relics of Saint Peter. As the two journey together, they boldly endure various adventures in their pursuit of the holy relics of Saint Peter, until they arrive at last within the holy city of Rome. Boy discovers that the pilgrim is hiding a dark past, and the pilgrim gradually reveals Boy’s most closely guarded secret, his own true identity.

Continue reading

Book Review: The White Company

The White Company
The White Company by Arthur Conan Doyle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Young Alleyne has had a sheltered up-bringing in a monastery, learning how to read and paint, but knowing very little about normal life in Medieval England. When he ventures out into the world as a young man, he finds a place as squire to the famous knight, Sir Nigel, the leader of the White Company, a band of English archers. They march to war with Spain, and Alleyne is determined to win glory, love, riches, and honor without losing the saintly virtues that the monks taught him as a child.

I loved the adventure, the action, the rousing dialogue, and knightly courage! The plot ran through all these unexpected turns that took me by surprise. Continue reading