The Sheen on the Silk
The Sheen on the Silk
By Anne Perry
Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9780345500656, 528pp.
Publication Date: March 23, 2010
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.
“With her visionary sensibility, Anne Perry is the master of the ‘you are there’ school of hist-myst storytelling.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Remarkable . . . [Anne Perry sets] an engaging personal story against a rich backdrop of events to convey the intrigue and extreme peril that characterized the struggles between the faiths of the countries bordering the Mediterranean in the thirteenth century.”—The Star-Ledger
“[Perry] gives the reader a real feel for the sights, sounds and smells of Constantinople in the time of the Crusades, as well as tastes of Venice, Rome, Sicily, and Jerusalem.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Perry escalates the tension in subtle ways [and] creates a deep sense of impending doom.”—Dayton Daily News
“[A] grandly scaled epic . . . with a canny eye for drama, [Perry] makes this complex historical background both vivid and clear.”—Kirkus Reviews