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Fortune's Child: A Novel of Empress Theodora

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  54 ratings  ·  18 reviews

KIRKUS REVIEWS:"A meticulously researched historical account presented in the form of a thrilling political drama."

Theodora: actress, prostitute, mistress, feminist. And Byzantine Empress of the civilized world. Stephen: handsome Syrian boy, wizard's apprentice, palace eunuch. And Secretary to the Empress. How does this unlikely pair become such allies that one day Empress

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published October 27th 2019 by Hussar Quill Press
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Warren Bull
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Empress Theodora had one of the most remarkable rises in history. Daughter of a careless bear keeper, actress, mistress, and ultimately an empress who saved an empire by herself, the first of two novels brings to life a fascination woman and the historian who recorded her life.

The author transported me to sixth century Constantinople complete with sounds and smells. Head-strong, beautiful, and sometimes reckless, Theodora refused to accept the role fate offered. She dared greatly and at times
Eileen Iciek
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author provided me with an Advance Reader's Copy in exchange for an honest review.

I've read several novels about Theodora and her husband, the Emperor Justinian, and enjoyed them all. However, this one has to be the best of them all! The author's attention to historical detail and the historical record was excellent. Theodora's portrayal was sympathetic but realistic, her exceptional story - from actress, to courtesan, to empress - being told by the Great Palace eunuch, Stephen. Most
Christine Cazeneuve
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved it

Kept me interested from start to finish. I knew nothing about this woman but she was amazingly strong, intelligent and ambitious. I liked that it told two stories and was a constant page turner. I can't wait for the next book.
Zohar -
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
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Fortune’s Child: A Novel of Empress Theodora by James Conroyd Martin is a historical novel about a woman, born to a circus bear keeper in Constantinople, who used her wits and good looks to become the wife of the ruler of the empire. Mr. Martin is the award-winning novelist living in Hollywood, CA.

The story is told through the eyes of Stephen, a good looking Syrian Eunuch, who befriends Theodora well before she became
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. It's engaging and compelling, and "takes you there". Obviously well researched, it includes good detail and readers will come away with a story that will stick with them for a while. Recommended.

I really appreciate the review copy!!
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction at its best

Excellent writing, kept my Attention totally , but easy to read. Can’t wait for the sequel. I do recommend reading!
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was sent this ARC via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.
I can't decide whether I want to give this a 3.5 or a 4 star rating. I knew next to nothing about Theodora before reading this book so I was really intrigued when I read the description of this book. It's really well written and researched, I liked how the story was told in both first and third person. The swaps between Theodora and Stephen's stories and between the past and the present was well done. However I kind of wish we
Karen York-fair
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved the book! This is my fourth JC Martin novel And I thoroughly enjoyed the story, his writing technique and his character development. Through Theodora’s life story in the Byzantine Empire the incredulous events that led up to her rise were depicted so clearly and so well researched that I lived the period with her. I cannot wait to read the sequel!
Doris Vandruff
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of how an actress be ame an empress. The friends she made and the enemies that sought to kill her. It is about the choices she made, good and bad. The betrayals of so called lovers and friends that she trusted. It is also about a young man she met, Stephen, someone that would be her lifelong friend. The story is full of adventure and misadventures. It is ultimately the story of strength, courage and determination.
Great characters!
Aron Gilbert
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Superbly written. Historical novel at its best, I enjoyed it cover to cover and are ready to look for the second book.THEODORA'S life is amazing, the characters around her life very human, I highly recommend this reading.
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and detailed

This riveting woman is brought to life in the story “told” by Stephan, the eunuch scribe whose life intertwines her own. It’s a rich tapestry, meticulously researched, and colorfully written. I wanted more of Stephan, and occasionally Theodora seemed two-dimensional in contrast, but it’s a very enjoyable read, and I look forward to the sequel.
Mary Yarde
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing

“But to take revenge on a dying woman—an empress forged in steel, nonetheless—would demand cold determination and a cunning mind. I vow to meet the challenge.”

For five long years, Stephen has suffered the indignity and inhumanity of a cold, damp prison cell. When they come for him, he fears the worst. But instead of death, he is given an audience with the woman who had sealed his fate all those years ago.

How can Empress Theodora ask this of him? After everything, she has done. And yet, Stephen
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In his solidly entertaining sixth novel, the lives of Martin’s two intelligent, resilient protagonists are marked by dramatic shifts in circumstance.

The tale of Theodora, the beautiful dark-haired middle daughter of a bearkeeper, begins in the shadow of Constantinople’s Hippodrome arena, plays out on various stages as an actress, and concludes atop a throne, following her improbable rise to become empress of the eastern Roman Empire as consort to Justinian I. Dying of cancer at 47, she liberates
Kevin Folliard
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fortune's Child: A Novel of Empress Theodora is another excellent historical fiction novel by James Conroyd Martin, an underdog story set in the sixth century, with a remarkably contemporary heroine. Theodora is a charming, vivacious, and courageous protagonist, and her journey across the Byzantine Empire from Libya to Egypt and back to Constantinople are accompanies by captivating depictions of time and place.

Woven into the history of Theodora's early life is her fictionalized friendship with
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the spirit of Robert Harris' Pompeii and Cicero trilogy, James Martin presents a great historical fiction of the Eastern Roman Empire. In popular culture, we've enjoyed the stories of the Caesars,so this is a refreshing look in at the later, post-Christian, post-Constantine Rome. Our heroine is Theodora, actress turned Empress, dictating the story of her life to Stephen, an imperial eunuch/scribe, who shares his own story in parallel with hers. Highly recommended for fans of the genre
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Theodora was new to me. I got lost, not only in her incredible story of survival, but in her relationships with Stephen, her sisters and her eventual rise. I'm looking forward to the second book so I can see how she helped shape the empire. I loved this book as much as The Poland Trilogy!
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Theodora is a pretty nasty subject for a novel. It's her climb from prostitute to empress that keeps authors going back to her.
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Ah, Fate~
The seed for "Fortune's Child" started some years ago when I was taking an Art Appreciation course at a community college in Los Angeles. One day we were studying the exquisite mosaics of Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora from the Basilica di San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, and the professor pointed to Theodora and said, “I’m not a writer, but if I were, that is the woman I would write