Monday, September 28, 2015

REVIEW: The Empress by Meg Clothier

The Empress
by Meg Clothier

Publisher: Century
Page Count: 512
Release Date: March 14, 2013
Format: Trade Paperback

How got: local used book store

First attention getter: fiction about obscure female historical figure! Yahoo!


From GoodReads:

Constantinople, 1179

Princess Agnes of France is thirteen when she marries the heir to Byzantium, an empire unmatched in wealth, power - and glamour.

But once she sets foot in the Queen of Cities, a decadent world where dazzling luxury masks unspeakable cruelty, she realises that her husband is a deluded mother’s boy with mighty enemies and treacherous allies.

Welcome to the City

As emperors rise and fall, Agnes learns to play the City's game – until she falls for a handsome rebel and finds that love is the most perilous game of all.

Glittering parties in marble palaces soon give way to bloody revolution, shipwreck and exile and Agnes discovers there is no limit to what she will do to survive.

A world in flames

But only when crusading knights from her homeland attack the City, does she finally understand what is truly worth fighting for.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 3

I started out with such high hopes for this book. The time period is such a unique one, and any historical fiction that’s about an obscure female figure makes me a happy camper. However, ultimately, I was disappointed by this work. Not a great introduction to this author.

She got the time period down, at least. Her effort towards historical research and getting the details right show through. She chose a setting and historical period ripe with change and intrigue. The Byzantine Empire is on the verge of massive change, facing vast armies without and decay/breakdown within. The tale of this young girl thrown into this maelstrom of backstabbing and danger was enough to keep me reading. The author knows how to bring the Fourth Crusade and an empire in flux to vivid life.

I’m a bit ambivalent on the main character. At least I can say that she’s brave with all she faces, she can think on her feet sometimes, and is able to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. However, more often than not, she is more of a reactionary character rather than one who actually takes action. She goes along with the events as they present without taking many actions to change outcomes. There are a few times where she takes action (Andronkis comes to mind), but the instances are too few to save her as a good main character.

The less said about the “love” between Agnes and Theo, the better. There is absolutely no chemistry between these two, except for friction. Any romantic connection has as much chemistry as distilled water, nothing. They have very few scenes together, and the ones they do have they are usually fighting in. More arguments happen than actual love connections. It makes any dramatic tension that might have resulted from the characters striving for each other and being motivated by each other disappear.

Overall, I was disappointed by this work. The author did a good job in setting and story, but her characters and their relationships need some work. There are a few good points but not enough to save that aspect of the story. For a book this size, there isn’t enough substance to make it a worthwhile read. If you’re looking for a rare time period or murky female historical figure, then maybe look this one up. Otherwise, I’d move along.

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