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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Domestic Drama In The Byzantine Empire

Imperial Purple - Gillian Bradshaw

Set in the fifth century Eastern Roman Empire, Imperial Purple is the story of Demetrias, a weaver in a state factory, and her husband Symeon who are inadvertently caught up in a plot to overthrow the emperor Theodosius II .

As ever with Gillian Bradshaw, the research is meticulous and the period is convincingly evoked. But what makes this book special is the fact that though the backdrop is high politics, the story is primarily about domestic life. The central characters are ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events and the focus is on their struggle to remain a family unit despite the enormous pressures that seem determined to destroy them.

A richly detailed setting that makes the ancient world feel as real and immediate as the street outside your front door, strong, believable characters, and a compelling emotional narrative make this a really enjoyable read.