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Anna of Byzantium

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  1,508 ratings  ·  157 reviews
Anna Comnena has every reason to feel entitled. She's a princess, her father's firstborn and his chosen successor. Someday she expects to sit on the throne and rule the vast Byzantine Empire. So the birth of a baby brother doesn't perturb her. Nor do the "barbarians" from foreign lands, who think only a son should ascend to power. Anna is as dismissive of them as are her f ...more
Paperback, 211 pages
Published October 2000 by Laurel-Leaf Books (first published May 11th 1999)
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The Book Thief by Markus ZusakA Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba BrayNumber the Stars by Lois LowryThe Luxe by Anna GodbersenThe Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Teen Historical Fiction
94th out of 873 books — 2,253 voters
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen CushmanThe Midwife's Apprentice by Karen CushmanMary, Bloody Mary by Carolyn MeyerThe Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary SutcliffAnna of Byzantium by Tracy Barrett
YA Historical Novels
5th out of 106 books — 127 voters

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Community Reviews

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Aug 12, 2008 booklady rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history lovers
Recommended to booklady by: Krista the Krazy Kataloguer Hartman
I've always been fascinated with the Crusades. Seven years ago when I did my own mini-study of them I remember running across the name Anna Comnena as a frequently quoted eleventh century Byzantine historian. Although I never completed that study due to homeschooling requirements, I also never forgot about Anna and always wanted to learn more about her.

This young adult novel is a fictionalized version of Anna's early life at court in the last days of her father, Alexius I Comnenus. Anna adored
I admit, I had never heard of this book before. The cover isn't particularly flashy--neither is the title, nor the jacket copy. Considering all this, it feels like a minor miracle that I read this book at all. I saw it on a library shelf and had been wanting to read more historical YA, and I don't know a lot about the Byzantine Empire besides the survey look from World History and AP Euro, so I wanted to give it a try. I thought I might give up on it early on.

To my surprise, it's a lot more enga
Jul 24, 2011 Tori added it
2003- The subject matter of this book makes it interesting: a look at the life of Anna Comnena, who was supposed to become empress. However, some problems abound in this book. First, the beginning of the book lets us know what happens at the end. Secondly, Anna is not a very likable person in the book, so many times, I found it hard to feel bad for her. Lastly, I felt the author could have expanded on details. Except for the strong personalities of Anna's grandmother and her teacher, Simon, many ...more
Genre: Biography

Award: Garden State Teen Book Award (NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD) 2002; Volunteer State Book Award (NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD) 2002

Star Rating: Four Stars

Grade Level: 7-12th grade
Although the vocabulary is relatively simple, the themes of pride, vanity and revenge can reverberate with any age group. The pleasure of reading this short and concise narrative of the life of Princess Anna Comnena is truly to see that there were not exclusively male authors and scholars during the medieval pe
A chanced upon this book a few days back at the library. I didn't have any idea about the Byzantine empire but I decided that the blurb looked interesting enough to take a chance. So I did and so glad that I did. Did I know that this was going to be one those really well written books which book lovers should read ? No , I did not but now I do :) and I say you go pick it up and read it.

It is not only historically near accurate ( I did some intense research on this empire and era using my 'still
This story succeeds in bringing to life the court of the Byzantine emperor in the 11th century - a setting that I don't think I've encountered before, particularly in a children's book. You get the sense that Barrett knows her history well, and she's chosen a character and period that seem rich and fascinating. Instead of playing Anna as a sympathetic every-girl, Barrett shows her as someone truly born to the purple, taught to rule from an early and keenly aware of what is her due. While this wa ...more
Part of the back/Partly mine:

Anna Comeni is a princess, her father's first born and his chosen successor. Someday she expects to sit on the throne and rule the vast Byzantine empire. The birth of a baby brother doesn't perturb her. Nor do the 'barbarians' from foreign lands, who think only a son should ascend to power. Anna is as dismissive of them as are her father and his most trusted advisor-his mother, Anna Dalassena, a manipulative woman with whom Anna studies the art of diplomacy. Anna rel
Olivia Ambrose
Olivia Ambrose ~ Biography

“Anna of Byzantium” is the story of a Princess of the Byzantine Empire who is chosen to be heir to her father’s heir. But then her little brother John is born and Anna’s intelligence threatens her manipulative grandmother who wants power for herself. Anna’s tale of power and betrayal and the covenant she ended up in is a fascinating insight into the time period in which she lived. It is also a different style of telling the story as it is told in first person, but it wo
Haley Egger
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peter Klessens
Anna of Byzantium by Tracy Barrett is about Anna Comnena her fathers first born, and his chosen successor to one day rule the Byzantium empire. The unexpected birth of her brother John doesn't make her anxious or unsettled. The "barbarians" from foreign lands who think only a son should ascend to power don't make her anxious or unsettled either. Anna is dismissive of them and so is her father and his trusted advisor, Anna's grandmother. The grandmother is a manipulative woman who uses Anna to g ...more
This was an enjoyable, quite readable fictional retelling of the biography of Anna Comnena, Byzantine princess and very famous woman historian, known for The Alexiad of Anna Comnena, telling of the deeds of her father, the Byzantine emperor, Alexius I, Comnenus. the language was very simple in this novel written for young people; I learned much about the princess and imperial life of that period. I sometimes find biographies written for adults dry and boring.

The story takes us through Anna's lif
Jules Novakovich
In the book Anna of Byzantium by Tracy Barrett Anna Comnenus is a young girl that has the heir to her father’s throne who is the emperor of Byzantium. She is supposed to marry a man named Constantine Ducas so the Ducas and Comnenus family can come together. She has a younger sister named Maria and eventually a younger brother named John. Anna’s grandma tries to tell Anna’s father how to run the empire and Anna’s mother and grandmother don’t get along. Anna’s grandmother begins teaching Anna wha ...more
Cody Gail
The characterization was great, and I love how Anna wasn't just a walking set of clichés. However, some details could have been expanded upon. She could have described the convent better. She could have described in more details as of why Anna wanted to kill her brother, other than the fact than she wanted to be on the throne.

Most of this novel is very historically accurate with this time period. I mean, it's not like they're carrying cell phones or anything. However, she could have made the di
Anna Comnena is living her worst nightmare born with a silver spoon in her mouth she has been brought up in a world of great privilege and at one point a commoner even turning their back on her could have meant their death. Now the reader meets the young princess for the first time in the scriptorium of a nunnery in the mountains of the Byzantine empire, where she has been degraded to the point of trying to match wits with a graying old nun who likes to try to put the young upstart princess in h ...more
Daniel Beaudrie
Anna is a princess of Byzantium, and the heir to the throne. She loves to study and is taught about history and math by Simon, a slave and good friend. When Anna is five she is called to a delegation so her father can present his children to the forge in ambassadors gathered there and learns that she has a new baby brother. When Anna is seven father leaves on a campaign against the Turks and while he is gone Anna begins to learn statecraft from her grandmother, her fathers mother. The longer sh ...more
Erika Larsen
Anna Of Byzantium

Summary: Anna Commena was to rule after her father. Considering Anna was his favorite child and the first born. Her tutor was her grandmother. Both "sides" of her grandmother had a different outlook on Anna. Her grandmother taught her unsportsmanlike ways to rule and treat people and Anna's mother was not pleased. Her grandmother heard that Anna had tried to kill her younger brother, John, which was Anna's grandmothers revenge. Anna thought it was because her grandmother did not
Small Review
Engaging. It was nice to read about a person and period that are less popular. Full review to come.
The real Anne Comnena lived from 1083 to 1153. After her father died, her brother took the throne. Both Anna and her mother tried to kill her brother. Anna's grandmother (a bad lady) wanted them killed but the brother, John, decided against it. Both the mother and Anna were exiled. They were forced to go to separate convents. While in exile, Anna wrote "The Alexiad," an eleven-book epic about the life of her father. Later on the convent, she found out that her grandmother was stipend of her powe ...more
Samantha Jackson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I really enjoyed this book, though my experience was soiled somewhat by the synopsis on the back—which gives everything away and makes you think the book is going to be completely different than it is. But I can’t really hold the author to blame for that, as I know the author almost never has control over such blurbs.

But, I think the book is somewhat at fault as well. The book starts in the present at a nunnery, and then the rest of the book backs up and tells the events leading up to Anna’s sta
I found this very hard to get into and found Anna quite unlikeable as a character because of her sense of entitlement and her relentless thirst for revenge. Her brother was only eight, and yes he was annoying, but I couldn't really understand why she decided she wanted to KILL him on the strength of a few petty misdeeds to her and some vague notion that he wouldn't be a good ruler. The fact that he went on to become a wise and beloved ruler just proved how hysterical her idea of him as the villa ...more
This would be shelved with Alisa Libby's Blood Confession under 'counterintuitive subject matter for young adult historical fiction'. Certainly the theme of the older, more capable female child being passed over in favor of the younger, less capable male one is no surprise, but the denouement of the plot is unusual for the subgenre to which it belongs, and I do wonder why Tracy Barrett thought Anna Commena's Machiavellian ambition and thouroughly messed up psyche made her a likely heroine for a ...more
Rebecca Radnor
1096 AD, first female historian. Trained to be Emperor till a brother was born, she's thrown into a convent for trying to kill him. This is where she writes her history of her father the man who launched the first crusade, the Alexiad, the first history book ever written by a woman. The book basically paints him as really horrible kid worthy of Anna's attempt to kill him. Ironically, Her brother is remembered as John the beautiful because he was considered a really good emperor. The final chapte ...more
Erika  Forth
Anna of Byzantium is based on a real princess from the Byzantine Empire during the time of the Crusades, who was also an author. I had some prior knowledge of the Byzantine Empire from my being a history major before reading this book, so I felt like that enhanced my enjoyment. After reading this, I looked up the real Anna and found that the book was fairly close to reality, and I like that, over it going off in a completely fictional direction. I honestly didn't expect to like this book, and I ...more
Dec 16, 2013 Joan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans, women rights interests.
I read this when it was first published but just acquired a discarded ppb copy and reread it today. It is a fast read. The author has managed the unusual trick of making a thoroughly unlikable character one you sympathize with and root for. Anna may have been born to the purple but she didn't get many breaks in life. She had been heir to the throne until an unwise remark got her little brother promoted to the position instead. When her father died, she and her mother, who mostly seemed somewhat ...more
3.5 stars for this nice quick read, recommended to those fans of historical fiction who want to read a story set in a different age and different region than most books.
Anyone checking the Wikipedia page on Anna Comnena, daughter of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos of Byzantium and the first female history writer known to us, will find that this novel does not stick to the facts, and alters and leaves out quite some parts. The author admits this in her notes at the back of the book, which I appreciate
Apr 13, 2009 Shannon rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Medieval Treasures Visitors
Shelves: youngadult
Every now and then, a book falls into your hands at just the right time. Last week, I went to a Medieval Treasures exhibit at the Frist Center and yesterday I read Anna of Byzantium. The temporal setting is not exactly the same: Anna's Byzantium is 1083, a few hundred years before most of the art I enjoyed. But this book, written during a time when literacy was a gift, not a given, made me think about many of the same issues I pondered as I looked at illuminated manuscripts in glass cases.

Anna i
Anna has already been chosen as her father's heir and successor. She will be queen someday and she will be ready; her grandmother is going to be sure of that. But Anna and her grandmother misjudge each other's strength of will. Perhaps they are too much alike to realize the danger. In any case, when Anna makes a move to cut off her grandmother's influence, the older lady responds by using that influence to take away everything Anna thought was a sure bet--namely, the kingdom, and her father's go ...more
Danielle Louise
In my undergrad Crusades class, one of our assignments was to write a first-person account of the Crusades. We could write as a member of the masses (a soldier, a peasant, whatever), or we could pick a historical figure. I chose a historical figure (Queen Melisende), and I remember my professor writing, "I don't think you quite captured her." And that's exactly how I feel about this book -- I don't think Tracy Barrett quite captures Anna.

Barrett's Anna is a fairly flat character: ruthless, obses
I have to admit, I thought Barrett's Anna of Byzantium wasn't worth of any of my time. Well, partly yes, since I couldn't find any book to read that wouldn't cost me a lot of time and this book turned out to only have 200+ pages, so I picked it up and started reading. And, partly no, because I believe since then that a book shall receive at least a little moment of bonding with its owner.

I remember myself quite uninterested when I started on the few pages. Funny because I actually enjoyed it. An
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I was born in 1955 in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up mostly in New York state. I went to college in New England and graduate school in California.

The first book I ever read by myself was called Little Bobo and His Blue Jacket. I still have it. I learned to read when I was three, but I know now that this doesn't mean much. My brother didn't really read until he was seven, and now he reads more and re
More about Tracy Barrett...
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