(The Theodosian Women, Book Two)
By Faith L. Justice
Audiobook narrated by Kathleen Li
📚📚📚📚📚 ⭐ = A book in a million.
📚📚📚📚📚 = I could not put this book down. I Highly Recommend.
📚📚📚📚 = A really great read.
📚📚📚 = It was enjoyable.
📚📚 = It was okay.
📚 = Um...! 😕
Dawn Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome
So many books set in the Roman Empire, whether that be western or eastern empire, focus on the lives of the Emperors and not the Empresses. I was, therefore, very excited to discover that Faith L. Justice had penned a novel that shines a light on the life of Pulcheria. Pulcheria’s story has been waiting to be told for a very long time, and Justice has certainly penned a very enthralling read.
Justice demonstrates through her carefully crafted narrative what life must have been like for Pulcheria. Therefore there are some scenes in this novel that I do not think I will ever forget. The novel opens with the death of Pulcheria’s mother, which is heartbreaking in itself. But there are so many scenes in which my heart absolutely broke for this little girl. I can not get the image out of my head of an eleven-year-old Pulcheria demanding that her beautiful hair be cut off because it feeds her vanity - Father Marcus has a lot to answer for. Along with this strict indoctrinate by men like Father Marcus who hold great influence over Pulcheria, she must also shoulder a great deal of the responsibility. She even becomes Regent to her brother when she was just fifteen.
The influence of the Church is a driving force throughout the length of this novel. And it greatly influences Pulcheria. She wants to save as many souls as she can, but if they refuse to be saved, then they must suffer the consequences of their beliefs, which of course, makes a mockery of the Christian faith, but it was, as it continues to be, even now, a very powerful tool to control people. Fear, especially when used with religious undertones, is a very dangerous, yet powerful weapon.
Pulcheria is a very conflicted character throughout this novel. There were times when my heart ached for her and there were other times when I found her very difficult to like. As in life, the author has presented us with a woman who is in a way a mass of contradictions. She is caring towards her own people, but as Theo points out in the latter half of the novel, Pulcheria may have had no choice to be forced to take on so much responsibility from such a young age, but it has also made her powerful, and she likes that feeling, and wants more power, more control.
This novel was superb from beginning to end. The writing was rich and expressive. The characters came across as incredibly real in the telling, and the historical detailing was exquisite. There is no doubt in my mind that Faith L. Justice is a master bard. And this book is one in a million.
Faith L. Justice writes award-winning historical novels, short stories, and articles in Brooklyn, New York where she lives with her family and the requisite gaggle of cats. Her work has appeared in Salon.com, Writer’s Digest, The Copperfield Review, and many more publications. She is Chair of the New York City chapter of the Historical Novel Society, and Associate Editor for Space and Time Magazine. She co-founded a writer’s workshop many more years ago than she likes to admit. For fun, she digs in the dirt—her garden and various archaeological sites.