For 1,500 years she has been cruelly maligned by history. Labelled as corrupt, immoral and sexually depraved by the sixth-century historian Procopius in his notorious Secret History, the Byzantine Empress Theodora was condemned to be judged a degenerate harlot by posterity. Until now. Due to a conviction that its contents would only be understood by generations of the distant future, a manuscript that has remained unopened for a millennium and a half is about to set the record straight. It will unravel the deepest secrets of a captivating and charismatic courtesan, her unlikely romance with an Emperor, and her rise to power and influence that would outshine even Cleopatra. This historical novel traces the love affairs, travails, machinations, scandals and triumphs of a cast of real characters who inhabit an Empire at its glorious and fragile peak. It’s the tale of a dazzling civilization in it s Golden Age; one which, despite plague, earthquakes and marauding Huns, would lay the foundation for modern Europe as we know it.
The story of the Empress Theodora is new to me so when the opportunity came to review the book, I jumped at the chance. I’m absolutely thrilled I did because I really like her!
Not only that, but the book itself is amazing. Carol Strickland is a wonderful writer. She writes Theodora’s story through the voice of Fabianus who is a monk and was a close childhood friend of the Empress. The book also tells the details of Justinian, the Emperor, but in truth, I liked the Theodora parts best. I like how the story shifted from present to past as their tales are told. I’ve read other books done with this format which I found confusing, but not so with The Eagle and the Swan. It flowed perfectly and I didn’t get lost within the stories.
Carol Strickland paints a lovely landscape when describing the surroundings for the characters. With her spot-on descriptiveness, we are dropped in the midst of an ancient land and become happily ensconced, living lives with Theodora, Justinian, and Fabianus.
I will gladly read another of Strickland’s book, anytime! I’m a definite fan.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carol Strickland is an art and architecture critic, prize-winning screenwriter, and journalist who’s contributed to The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Art in America magazine. A Ph.D. in literature and former writing professor, she’s author of The Annotated Mona Lisa: A Crash Course in the History of Art from Prehistoric to Post-Modern (which has sold more than 400,000 copies in multiple editions and translations), The Annotated Arch: A Crash Course in the History of Architecture, The Illustrated Timeline of Art History, The Illustrated Timeline of Western Literature, and monographs on individual artists.
While writing on masterpieces of Byzantine art (glorious mosaics in Ravenna, Italy featuring Theodora and Justinian and the monumental Hagia Sophia basilica in Istanbul built by Justinian), Strickland became fascinated by the woman who began life as a swan dancer and her husband, an ex-swineherd.
Knowing how maligned they were by the official historian of their era Procopius, who wrote a slanderous “Secret History” vilifying them, Strickland decided to let the audacious Theodora tell her story. She emerges not just as the bear-keeper’s daughter and a former prostitute who ensnared the man who became emperor, but as a courageous crusader against the abuse of women, children, and free-thinkers.
BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:
Thursday, March 13
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, March 17
Review at Reading the Ages
Wednesday, March 19
Review at Unabridged Chick
Thursday, March 20
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Monday, March 24
Interview & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Tuesday, March 25
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, March 26
Guest Post at Kelsey’s Book Corner
Monday, March 31
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, April 2
Review at Book Drunkard
Friday, April 4
Review at Just One More Chapter
Monday, April 7
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession
Wednesday, April 9
Review & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Thursday, April 10
Review & Giveaway at Curling Up By the Fire
Friday, April 11
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, April 14
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, April 15
Guest Post & Giveaway at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, April 16
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Thursday, April 17
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Many thanks to Amy for allowing me to be part of this virtual book tour. She’s amazing!