THE SHEEN OF SILK.

Perry, Anne.

ISBN 10: 0345500652 / ISBN 13: 9780345500656
Published by New York: Ballantine, (2010.) dj, 2010
Hardcover
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SIGNED hardcover first edition - First printing. The first major stand-alone novel by this author best known for her Victorian era mysteries - a novel set in the ancient Byzantine city of Constantinople in 1273. SIGNED on the title page. 515 pp plus a book list. Fine in a fine dust jacket (as new.). Bookseller Inventory # 55930

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Bibliographic Details

Title: THE SHEEN OF SILK.

Publisher: New York: Ballantine, (2010.) dj

Publication Date: 2010

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

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 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 manoeuver close 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 role in a plot to overthrow the emperor. This leaves Anna with more questions than answer, and time is running out. For an even greater threat lies on the horizon: Another Crusade to capture the Holy Land is brewing, and 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.

Review:

Anne Perry on The Sheen on the Silk

I wanted to try something different and challenging, and yet still within the categories of historical fiction, and mystery. I felt it must be set in a place and time which gripped my imagination, was filled with both physical and emotional conflict, yet preferably not one already exhaustively explored. My agent suggested Byzantium: beautiful, complex, sophisticated, and in the 13th century, embattled on all sides. The Latin crusaders had already burned the city, stolen its treasures and murdered or exiled its people in 1204. They returned from exile only in 1262. To the north and east was Russia and the hordes of the Great Khan, to the south the rising power of Islam.

In the midst of this, the thousand-year-old Byzantine Empire is trying to rebuild its fire-scarred city and its ruined trade and economy. Before the sack by the crusaders, it was the end of the Silk Road from the east, of the spice trade, the crossroads of Europe and Asia, ancient, subtle and rich. When my novel opens, the Empire is on the brink of a final ruin from which it will never rise. If it does not renounce its Orthodox Christian faith and submit to the Pope in Rome, the crusade being planned will decimate it forever.

Into this cauldron of emotions comes Anna Zarides, a young woman physician whose twin brother has been accused of murdering the nobleman who was leading the resistance against Rome, and the abandonment of the Orthodox faith. Anna cannot believe he is guilty, and disguises herself as a eunuch, so she can move freely in society, treating both men and women, in order to prove his innocence. She is a brilliant doctor, practicing Christian medicine openly, and Arabic and Jewish medicine discreetly. (My research for this was fascinating!) She must not be caught either with the far more effective alien medicine, or in the deceit of pretending to be a man when she is not--the punishment for either would be very serious. She must remain safe while keeping her medical integrity, and weave her way through political and religious intrigue to solve a murder and expose a terrible plot, all as a city faces its final invasion and disaster.

Other characters include a Roman bishop, subtle and devious, desperate to find a passion in life; a Byzantine eunuch bishop who confuses faith in God with loss of power; a half Venetian, half Byzantine sailor/adventurer seeking his own identity torn between nations at war with each other (with whom Anna falls in love); and a woman who escaped the ruin of the city in 1204, as a tiny child, and lives to revenge the family she saw murdered and the city she loved and identified with. The rape of Byzantium was like a defilement of herself that she can never forgive.

I hope I have caught the passion and the conflict of faith and survival, as well as some of the reality of the search we all make for what truth to believe in, and what costs we must pay to find our own spiritual honor. --Anne Perry

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