In 1273, a woman’s dangerous quest to clear her brother’s name of murder brings her to Constantinople. Anna Zarides, disguised as a eunuch physician, becomes one of a cast of characters that will ensure Constantinople’s survival or its destruction in a Crusade.
The characters have vibrant traits which make them compelling. Anna’ compassion born from painful events is one example. Constantinople, Venice and other locations are portrayed as full of beauty and some cruelty. The plot is a slow building mystery and historical tale that shows the human heart. Perry conveys her tale through details and lyrical descriptions such as as a bowl of apricots being “liquid amber touched from the red of the sun”(p.57). This book is a potential match for those looking for a tale of Constantinople, compelling characters, a slow building tale and/or lyrical writing.
Want other books like The Sheen on the Silk?
Seraglio, by Janet Wallach, is another richly detailed tale of a woman navigating a dangerous world. In the 18th century, a woman kidnapped and taken into the sultan’s harem in Istanbul undergoes trials and danger to rise to the powerful position of valide sultan.
Shadow Princess, by Indu Sundaresan, is another slow building historical fiction tale with richly detailed and lyrical style as well as interesting characters. Princess Juhanara, and her siblings, strive for power in the shadow of the construction of the Taj Mahal. (Click here for my blog entry on Shadow Princess.)
Books such as Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium, by Jonathan Harris, provide more information on Constantinople’s past and what happened to the city after the events of The Sheen on the Silk.