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Imperial Purple

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  239 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Set in early Christian times, the tale of the weaver Demetrias portrays her entrapment in a treasonous plot against the Byzantine emperor and her fight to protect her family and self as the battle for Constantinople rages
Hardcover, 0 pages
Published August 2nd 1989 by Random House Value Publishing (first published 1988)
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Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction Lovers
Not as good as 'Beacon At Alexandria' but pretty darned good. Bradshaw has a talent for taking her readers to the obscure late Roman-early Byzantine period and creating plausible characters and settings. Demetrias, a weaver in Tyre becomes enmeshed in intrigues that take place at the highest levels of the Eastern Empire. Some of the characters are familiar to readers of Gibbon but Ms. Bradshaw adds a human dimension that gives life to distant and vague historical figures. This is one of those bo ...more
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1980s, hf-roman, med-east
Third time through. Among Bradshaw's better books. 5th century eastern Mediterranean history with enjoyable characters. Would include in high school library collection.

If, like mysteries, historical fiction could be slotted on a continuum ranging from cozy to noir, Bradshaw's relatively short novels would rest near the cozy end. Good re-reads for periods of low energy and limited reading time.
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Imperial Purple tells the story of a slave, Demetria, and her husband who find themselves involved in an intrigue to depose emperor Theodosius. The novel combines political intrigue with the romantic story of the slaves.

Demetria is a silk weaver whose skill is required to weave a fine cloak, which will serve as the means to treason. Her work must be kept secret but is unable to keep it from her husband, Symeon.

The novel includes a great deal of background of common people around the period 450 A
Libby Ames
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a reread for me, but I think I read this the first time over 15 years ago. I always enjoy Gillian Bradshaw's historical fiction. She covers time periods and places that I am not familiar with, so I enjoy the glimpse into new cultures and time periods. This story deals with 5th century Greece and Rome with a small look at the Huns. Good story, characters, and great historical detail.
Another winner from Gillian Bradshaw! This book had endearing and clever characters and a good intrigue that just kept twisting!
Plot: 6 (first half is an easy 10 but second half is a contrived 2)
Characters: 6 (well-developed motivations but behavior sometimes forced)
Accuracy: 8 (captures the period well but doesn’t obey its own rules)

I love books that take place in obscure and little-seen periods of history (especially when it’s my obscure and little-seen period) and this book has a unique enough plot to be a real draw. Basically, an imperial slave in a Tyrian weaving factory is commissioned to make a purple cloak. Purpl
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 caug
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
In many ways I really liked this book; firstly Gillian Bradshaw deserves so much credit for shining a light on an obscure corner of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 450s AD, rather than writing yet another novel about Rome in the Late Republic. And it's clear that she really understands Roman lifestyles and attitudes -- it's there in everything from people reading aloud, to Flavius Marcianus not valuing his daughter as much as his dead son, to the increasing intermingling with Huns and Goths, to ...more
Demetrias, a skilled silk weaver in Tyre, lives a very simple life until she is caught up in an ambitious political plot and is forced to go along with it in order to protect her life and her young family. She is a state slave of the Roman Empire with little influence. Those in power are easily able to control and manipulate her – until, that is, Demetrias attains a level of power herself that in turn affects them. Bradshaw showcases the intrigues of the Roman court in this novel that is somewha ...more
Don Maker
May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a really fascinating depiction of the Roman Empire as seen from the viewpoint of a peasant family (a weaver and her fisherman husband). The heroine is forced to weave a robe for an emperor, using the purple dye reserved for the royalty, but she knows the robe cannot be meant for the current emperor because the size is not right. Thus we have a glimpse into the technical world of the art of the loom woven into a story of intrigue and suspense that leads to the highest levels of Roman soc ...more
Clare O'Beara
Nov 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
A woman who weaves cloth and dyes it is ordered to make a new imperial robe. Only the wealthiest people can afford purple as it is made from the shells of the tiny murex sea snail. But she realises that this robe is for someone other than the current ruler, because it is the wrong height. She is terrified to lose her life if she speaks, but she might be killed anyway for aiding a revolution and coup....
An unusual and lively tale, this is very enjoyable and sheds a light on ancient history.
(4.5) Bradshaw pretty much at her best, with smart, resourceful, angry women being awesome in a period of history that no one writes novels set in (I honestly can't think of another, pseduo-historical Arthurian stories excepted). Symeon and Marcianus are smart and resourceful too, but the women are better. Hurrah for second-wave feminism!
Patrick Bättig
Seidenweberin muss purpurnen Mantel weben, der zur Absetzung und Einberufung eines neuen Kaisers dienen soll. Eine Revolution also . Die Seidenweberin und Ihr Mann werden immer tiefer darin verstrickt.
Sep 06, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this one a bit more than Beacon at Alexandria. A weaver and her family get caught up in imperial intrigues, giving the reader peek into the halls of power without setting the story there. I also liked all the detail about weaving and dyeing.
Feb 18, 2009 marked it as to-read
recommended because has a weaving theme
Jun 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: generalfiction
A silk weaver is instructed to make a cloak dyed in imperial purple, but with measurements that are not the emperor's.
Little Pieces
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: histórica
Entretenido, personajes interesantes y reales. Pero tampoco mucho más.
rated it liked it
Jun 29, 2013
Keith Currie
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Aug 03, 2014
rated it it was amazing
Jan 22, 2012
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Oct 29, 2017
James Mullins
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Jun 22, 2016
Kelly Hoefflin
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Feb 08, 2011
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Oct 27, 2011
rated it it was amazing
Oct 21, 2015
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Feb 12, 2014
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Apr 11, 2011
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Feb 02, 2017
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What's the Name o...: Byzantine Roman era Slave Weaver [s] 5 19 Nov 17, 2013 10:12AM  
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Born in Arlington, Virgina, Gillian Bradshaw grew up in Washington, Santiago, Chile and Michigan. She is a Classics graduate from Newnham College, Cambridge, and published her first novel, Hawk of May, just before her final term. A highly acclaimed historical novelist, Gillian Bradshaw has won the Hopwood Award for Fiction, among other prizes. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and their four ...more
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