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Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite
The Great Palace: A Byzantine Novel is the second book in the Imperial Passions series by Eileen Stephenson. The imperial court has become a hotbed for conspiracies, betrayal, weak loyalties, and changing times. Isaac I Comnenus took over the throne of the Byzantine Empire and was hoping to bring the Royal Palace back to its former glory. However, his work was cut out for him. John was not built for the responsibilities thrust on him, and Anna Dalassena was disappointed. While Isaac faced conspiracies and betrayal, Anna was struggling to thwart Constantine Ducas’s growing grip on the court. With both Isaac and John preoccupied, Anna realized she would need to protect the throne, the court, and make her family thrive.
I can only imagine the amount of research author Eileen Stephenson did to write this authentic story. She brought the 1057 Constantinople to life and made sure her readers were right there in the moment. While I usually stay away from political novels, this one caught my eye because of the promise of a strong female protagonist. Anna was everything I wished she would be. Smart, cunning, and more intelligent than her husband, Anna knew what she needed to do and when she needed to do it to get the best results. The narrative made me take a deep look and read between the lines. The fast pace kept me interested, while the author’s writing style had me invested. Anna’s partnership with Empress Eudokia was exactly what the story needed to save it from being a one-woman show. The author showed Anna’s soft side and made sure readers knew our protagonist was a mother and a human, which made connecting with her as easy as breathing. I loved the cover and loved the story! We need more novels like The Great Palace that talk about powerful women in history who changed and shaped whole empires.