Anna of Byzantium
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Anna of Byzantium

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  1,208 ratings  ·  129 reviews
As her father's chosen successor and first-born child, Anna ignores those who say that her young brother should be the next in line for the throne, yet when the time nears and she if forcefully removed from her place of power, clever Anna plots to get back what she feels is rightfully hers. Reprint.
Paperback, 211 pages
Published October 2000 by Laurel-Leaf Books (first published May 11th 1999)
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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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...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...more
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
Yes, I would agree with others here that it is not the most well written book. Empty of metaphor and lyricism. I found it too difficult to image a female child having such political understanding and speaking as she did at the age of 11. Also a couple of historical inaccuracies. St Irene Church is definitely not a small church by any means, its original name was Church of Holy Peace (and Church of Divine Peace) and many emperors were NOT buried there. They were are buried in the Church of the Ho...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Anna of Byzantium is a fictional book about a princess named Anna Comnena who lived from 1083-1153. Obviously the story are fictional, some characters purely imagined, others completely real, although most have actually existed. The beginning takes place at a convent. At first Anna whines a lot, and seems very bitter. But as we go deeper into the story, and her past, we realize why she has become so bitter. As she explaines her past - all the things that have happened to her and to the people ar...more
Feb 15, 2012 M added it
Have you ever been at a library and something about a book just jumps out to you on a shelf? Something in the color combination of Anna of Byzantium by Tracy Barrett did and so I added it to my gigantic stack of books to read. And its a good thing I did, because Anna of Byzantium is such a fantastic book.

It follows the life of Anna Komnene, who lived a long long time ago. She lived in a time of murder, deception, and blood being stronger then water. Originally Anna was the heir to her fathers em...more
This reminded me of the series of historical books Jane Yolen has written with Robert Harris, such as Girl in a Cage. Only this didn't pull me in quite as strongly as I would have liked and somehow didn't seem quite as "real" as those books - even though it is based on the life of the real Anna Comnena. I really liked the author's note at the end, and probably would have enjoyed the story more if I had read that first. It's interesting to note that in the story, Anna's brother is something of a...more
Enjoyable piece of historical fiction for ages 12-14. Tells the story of Princess Anna Comnena, a real Byzantine princess (1083-1153). But this is still historical fiction, not a biography, so facts, people, and timelines are not to be depended upon from the story. This book is enjoyable for the psychology of power and family dynamics, but not so much for the events and the people of the time. Anna hardly leaves her luxurious palace, and we never learn as much as we'd like about the characters s...more
Anna of Byzantium
Tracy Barrett

I was roaming through the library when i saw this book. I had remembered learning about the Byzantium Empire and was interested to see what this book was about. Anna of Byzantium by Tracy Barrett is about Anna the oldest of her family and heir to the throne. That is until her baby brother is born. In the book Anna talks about her childhood and family. The book is told first person Anna's view. The author did a fair job taking us back but felt it was not to different...more
Michael Hall
Book Review: Anna of Byzantium

Anna of Byzantium is a book full of surprises, taking sides, and most importantly, vengeance. Anna Comnena is a young girl who is expecting to one day inherit her fathers throne. However, after a turn of events (her grandmother becoming afraid of her), her little brother, John, inherits the throne instead of her. Her ultimate goal from then on is to seek vengeance on her 'family,' with the help of some friends.

I really enjoyed the book, as it caught my attention e...more
Sep 01, 2009 rr added it
I was really charmed by this book. Barrett makes the main character interesting, admirable, and flawed in a way I found convincing. The pacing of the plot feels sure, and there are enough details to evoke a mental picture of medieval Byzantium while still giving readers enough room to fill in that picture in their own ways. I read this book over the past three nights, and each evening I was excited to return to the story. I wish it had been around when I was a younger reader; it would have taken...more
Anna of Byzantium is loosely based on a historical figure, but I found her narrative voice in the first half of this book excruciatingly boring. The pace of the plot picked up about halfway through, and I ceased to be annoyed by the dryness of the tone, but overall it was not a great read. The main reason that I finished it is that I was pinned to the bed (by a nursing baby) and never got around to picking up another book in between nursing sessions.

That said, it did improve significantly in th...more
Cassie Helwig
This book is great. It's based on a real person who wrote a book about her father. The researcher turned this around and wrote it about the daughter. It is one of the only books set it this time period and location and is written beautifully.
Book Riot
This is a children's historic fiction of Anna, princess, and declared heir of the Byzantine empire. The story traces Anna's life from her childhood and the birth of her younger brother. She's a smart girl and knows the power she will have as empress, but she's also somewhat headstrong and speaks her mind. She's really not thinking about the consequences of the "wrong" people hearing her words. When that happens and her father names her brother as his heir in her place,her anger is her great undo...more
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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
More about Tracy Barrett...
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