The Sheen on the Silk by Anne Perry
Publication Date: March 2010
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction
(Audio book from the Library)
Synopsis (Courtesy of Barnes & Noble)
New York Times Bestselling novelist Anne Perry, the undisputed Queen of Victorian mysteries and the author of an acclaimed series set during World War I, now broadens her canvas with her first major stand-alone book - an epic historical novel set in the thirteenth-century Constantinople, where a woman must live a lie in her quest to uncover the truth.
Arriving in the ancient Byzantine city in the year 1273, Anna Zarides has only one mission: to prove the innocence of her twin brother Justinian, who has been exiled to the desert for conspiring to kill Bessarion, a nobleman. Disguising herself as a eunuch named Anastasius, Anna moves freely about in society, using her skills as a physician to maneuver closer to the key players involved in her brother's fate. With her medical practice thriving, Anna crosses paths with Zoe Chrysaphes, a devious noblewoman with her own hidden agenda, and Giuiliano Dandolo, a ship's captain conflicted not only by his mixed Venetian-Byzantine heritage but by his growing feelings for Anastasius.
Trying to clear her brother's name, Anna learns more about Justinian's life and reputation - including his peculiar ties to Bessarion's beautiful widow and his possible roll in the plot to overthrow the emperor. This leaves Anna with more questions than answers, and time is running out. For an even greater threat lies on the horizon: Another crusade to capture the Holy Land is brewing, and the leaders in Rome and Venice have set their sights on Constantinople for what is sure to be a brutal invasion. Anna's discoveries draw her inextricably closer to the dangers of the emperor's treacherous court - where it seems that no one is exactly who he or she appears to be.
Richly detailed and finely wrought, The Sheen on the Silk is a bold and brilliant work that affirms Anne Perry's talent as a master storyteller.
It took me quite awhile to listen to this one. I really liked the subject because this was a part of history that I hadn't had the opportunity to do much study about. I wanted to read or listen to something by Anne Perry and I thought this would be something different. I wasn't disappointed when I got into it, but it was long. There were parts where it was a little slow as far as the audio was concerned, reading it may have made a difference.
Anne Perry has the ability to really take the reader into the life of her characters. In The Sheen on the Silk she let inside the life of Anna Zarides, a young woman who is committed to proving the innocence of her brother, Justinian. She must figure out a way to become closer to the people who knew him and were aware of what he was up to. But, as a woman she couldn't do that. She couldn't walk in the same circles or find out what was really going on. So she decided to take on the guise of a eunuch. This gave her the anonymity that she needed get the information she was looking for.
In her quest for the truth she uses her abilities as a gifted physician to get her into places that others couldn't possibly get into. She meets many of the people that Justinian knew and was involved with. Justinian was accused as an accessory to murder and exiled to the desert. Anna gathers all the information she can find, even where they are holding her brother. She serves the community as a faithful doctor and even treats the emperor. She finds out that things are definitely not what she thought. She meets Zoe who has ulterior motives, the biggest being revenge for what happened to her city during the first crusade. But she knows everyone and puts Anna in the path of many of people she needs to find answers from.
This book was long and it had a huge cast of characters which made it little hard to keep up with on the audio, but if I really listens closely I was able to keep up with everything, but it wasn't a book you could listen to while you were doing the housework, if you missed even a minute you were lost. The story itself was very intriguing and totally didn't go the way I thought it would, which was a good thing because I couldn't outguess Anne Perry. I couldn't see where she was going which made it even more intriguing.
I liked the depth of the characters. Each one had his or her own story. That made the whole story even more appealing because you had very interesting people who was involved in a very serious plot to over throw the emperor and in the midst of that, another crusade is on the horizon. It draws closer and closer until everyone has to make a decision about what side they are on and some of them didn't end up on the side I expected. Giuiliano's relationship with Anna was odd, but touching. They grew closer and closer, Anna knowing she was female but Giuiliano was in the dark. The resolution of that situation was very interesting to say the least LOL...
I would recommend this one to history buffs and those who like a very mysterious and intriguing historical fiction selection. However, I do recommend that you try a different format, audio just isn't the way to go with this one.
The Sheen on the Silk is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this 4 out of 5 apples from my bookbag!