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Anna of Byzantium

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  2,150 ratings  ·  215 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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Average rating 3.67  · 
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``Laurie Henderson
Anna Comnena was the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor, Alexios. Born in 1083, she was the author of The Alexiad, which told of her father's reign and still regarded as an important source of information for that era.

This YA book about Anna's life was an informative and quick read for anyone interested in learning more about the Eastern Roman Empire.

Princess Anna was the first born child and was viewed from the beginning as her father's successor. She was given a rigorous education which inclu
Aug 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Small Review
Engaging. It was nice to read about a person and period that are less popular. Full review to come.

Originally posted on Small Review

Yikes, Anna! Talk about your family drama. Backstabbing, coups, attempted coups—Anna's family doesn't play around.

Anna is a strong, confident character who is easy to root for (but would probably make an awful sleepover party friend). She reminded me of Isabella in her steadfast determination and "take no prisoners" attitude. This is a good thing and I definitely r
Feb 06, 2018 rated it liked it
It's difficult to give this kind of novel, one with wide appeal to teens or children of the present day, the kind of context it deserves without having very difficult violence and atrocity events dominate the telling. But this author does that (not offending sensibilities of young minds) while making the telling itself, whole piece and contained within a complete and revealing to personalities style. All at the same time in easy read and interesting copy.

She's made Anna an every girl with strong
Dec 16, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jul 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 31, 2019 rated it liked it
I loved the book! Though it was a bit confusing, I think the this book is a good way to see how royals lived in the Byzantine Age.
Shannan Schoemaker
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Anna of Byzantium - takes the reader on a journey to the court of the Byzantine Empire through the first person female perspective of the heir to the Byzantine throne, Anna Commena, from age four to eighteen. Written by Traci Barrett a typically nonfiction history writer, the court life of the Byzantine Empire comes to life in her first historical fiction novel. Barrett leads the reader through this coming of age tale of the young Anna as she is groomed for the throne by two contrasting personal ...more
Kailey (BooksforMKs)
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
This historical novel tells the story of Anna Comnena, daughter of Emperor Alexius I, Princess of the Byzantine Empire in 1083 AD. Anna is in line to inherit the throne and someday rule the entire empire, until her grandmother plots against her to undermine Anna's right to rule and establish Anna's little brother, John, as the next emperor.

Anna is incredibly intelligent and well-educated, spending hours pouring over history books in the palace library and learning from the scholars there. She a
Sep 14, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Melody Schwarting
I seriously loved this book when I first read it in middle school. I think it whetted my appetite for historical novels that vividly evoke setting.

Anna makes a fascinating antiheroine and somewhat unreliable narrator. The reader must employ powers of discernment when reading her characterizations of those around her. Anna is very young in the course of the whole novel (partially because Barrett trimmed the history to fit her readers, though she explained her choices in an author's note) and expe
Jul 29, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Oct 06, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Apr 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
P Dreadful
Mar 28, 2017 rated it liked it
See full review here:

I usually avoid books which are written in first person, but this one was different. The prose is elegant without being too ornate and Anna’s character is drawn well. She is a flawed character (she is impetuous, proud and ill-tempered) but it makes the reader empathise with her more. I understood her need to acquire what was her birth-right. I couldn’t help but root for her even though I knew that she would never be the Empress of Byz
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
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
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Though Anna of Byzantium is interesting and well-written, with vivid characters and moving scenes, I did not like it. Almost all of the characters act from purely selfish motives, using deceit and any means possible to get their desires, so it is difficult to figure out which side is the "right" side, because neither is fully in the right. Much of the story is very sad as it is clearly not written from a Christian worldview, and evil frequently triumphs, even in the end. As the book is not histo ...more
Oct 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
When my english teacher told me we were going to read this book, I was like Ohoooooooo SHINY. When I started reading it I realized Anna liked to complain. A lot.
She complained.
And complained.
And complained some more.
Al she talked about was that she wanted to kill her baby brother. (and she tried to. She was 5 when this happened.)
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: world-tour
Whiny. The protagonist reminded me somewhat of the character from Catherine, Called Birdy but not as funny. I commend the author's attempt to write about this time period, but the characters and plot were not engaging.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Outstanding! After I read this I just had to read more about the history of the Byzantine empire-- and about Anna Comnena.
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ellie, jacob, mom
Reading for CC1 wk11 and 12..krb 1/5/16

We all loved reading this historical fiction and had great discussions about the characters. Mom cried at the end of course..krb 1/14/16
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
I had a hard time relating to Anna in this book. Although the historical aspect of this novel was interesting, I found the emotional journey a depressing plateau throughout.
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully suspenseful mix of history, mystery and intrigue, Ms. Barrett has created the fascinating read of a young girl's life as a royal princess expecting to inherit her father's throne and someday become the next empress. Full of period details, atmosphere and explanations of the daily life of someone growing up in a palace during what some would call the Dark Ages, this book grabs the reader from page one and won't let you put it down until you have discovered Anna's fate on the last pa ...more
May 10, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a very interesting read. I enjoyed it by all means, however you could never fully love most of the main characters. My meaning being, you saw how Anna was a little selfish and prideful and that wasn’t right on her part, and you see how the others could be so awful you hated them, it was hard to “fall in love” with a character except two. But it was well written that you wanted to keep reading until a problem resolved itself.
A well done book.
This book shows a lot of detail of how it is like for Anna.
Cherie Nef
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good for the entire library.
Daniel Beaudrie
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Peter Klessens
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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Tracy Barrett has written more than twenty books for children and young adults. She’s much too interested in too many things to stick to one genre, and has published nonfiction as well as historical fiction, mysteries, fantasy, time travel, myth and fairy-tale retellings, and contemporary realistic novels. She knows more about ancient Greece and Rome and the European Middle Ages than anyone really ...more

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