Skip to main content

Dawn Empress (The Theodosian Women #2) by Faith L. Justice: A Book Review

Dawn Empress (The Theodosian Women #2)
Author: Faith L. Justice
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Raggedy Moon Books
Release Date: 2020
Pages: 354
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: A calculating court. An empire at risk. With her child brother the new emperor, will her family survive his reign?


      Constantinople, AD 408. Princess Pulcheria is terrified for the future. With her father’s death leaving her seven-year-old brother as the new ruler, the astute girl fears the easily influenced boy will be destroyed by the whims of a manipulative aristocracy. Vowing to protect their family legacy, the young noble convinces the underage monarch to appoint her as the imperial regent.


Defending herself from duplicitous suitors, Pulcheria and her sisters escape marriage with a shocking vow, garnering favor with the people of Constantinople. But after her sibling comes of age, his ambitious wife and foolish support of heretics threaten to undo her plans to secure the empire’s sovereign authority.

     Can this shrewd young princess outmaneuver a palace filled with greedy, power-hungry men?

     Dawn Empress is the vivid second tale in the Theodosian Women biographical historical fiction series. If you like women who defined history, political scheming, and epic conflicts between family, church, and power, then you’ll love Faith L. Justice’s mesmerizing dive into Byzantine imperial life.

     My Review: Dawn Empress tells the story of Galla Placidia’s niece, Pulcheria. At the young age of fifteen, Princess Pulcheria took a vow of virginity in order to be a regent to her younger brother, Theodosius II. Throughout her reign as regent, Pulcheria was beset with challenges. She had to protect her brother from assassins and corrupt eunuchs. Pulcheria had to confront raiding barbaric tribes and religious turmoil. Most of all, Pulcheria found Athenais, her brother’s new wife, as her new political rival. Can Pulcheria still manage to hold onto power through all these difficulties?


In history, Pulcheria was known for being a regent to her younger brother, Theodosius II. When Theodosius II came of age, she became his co-ruler. After his death, she married his successor Emperor Marcian and became his empress. Their chaste marriage lasted three years when Empress Pulcheria died. With these known facts, I was curious to see how Mrs. Justice portrayed Empress Pulcheria, and I found her portrayal to be fascinating. Pulcheria is ambitious. At times, she can be ruthless. She is also very judgmental. Yet, she loves her family and her kingdom. She believes ruling is God’s will. She is very pious and devotes her life to God and her people. She is the Church’s champion and fights against heretics. She also puts the interests of the people first. She is also a courageous leader, and her bravery instills inspiration to her people amidst their darkest hour. Therefore, Pulcheria was a strong, wise, and capable leader. I could see why she won the admiration and respect of her family, people, and church. This novel showed why she became a saint.


Overall, this novel is about family drama, religion, and political intrigue that will captivate you from the first page until the last. I found all the characters to be realistic and complex. I liked Pulcheria’s relationship with her brother, Theodosius II, which is the main focus of the novel. While they often are in conflict and do not see eye-to-eye on certain issues, ultimately, they respect and rely on each other. They are each other’s strength. The author did an excellent job in making the Byzantine court come alive. This does not mean that the novel did not have its drawbacks. Dawn Empress can move at a slow pace and some of the drama reads like a teen soap opera. Still, Dawn Empress rescues an obscure empress from history! I can’t wait to read the last book in Theodosian Women with the final installment focusing on Aelia Eudocia! I recommend this for fans of Queen of the Darkest Hour, Queen of Oak, and I Am Livia!


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Blog Tour: The Portraitist: A Novel of Adelaide Labille-Guiard by Susanne Dunlap

The Portraitist: A Novel of Adelaide Labille-Guiard by Susanne Dunlap Publication Date: August 30, 2022 She Writes Press Genre: Historical Fiction Synopsis: Based on a true story, this is the tale of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s fight to take her rightful place in the competitive art world of eighteenth-century Paris.     With a beautiful rival who’s better connected and better trained than she is, Adélaïde faces an uphill battle. Her love affair with her young instructor in oil painting gives rise to suspicions that he touches up her work, and her decision to make much-needed money by executing erotic pastels threatens to create as many problems as it solves. Meanwhile, her rival goes from strength to strength, becoming Marie Antoinette’s official portraitist and gaining entrance to the elite Académie Royale at the same time as Adélaïde.      When at last Adélaïde earns her own royal appointment and receives a massive commission from a member of the royal family, the timing couldn

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki: A Book Review

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post Author: Allison Pataki Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Ballantine Release Date: February 15, 2022 Pages: 381 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . . So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard—even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar’s treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweath

Blog Tour: The Perilous Journey of the Not So Innocuous Girl ( Book #1) by Leigh Statham: A Book Review

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THE PERILOUS JOURNEY OF THE NOT SO INNOCUOUS GIRL by Leigh Statham Blog Tour hosted by  Rockstar Book Tours . Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!   About The Book: THE PERILOUS JOURNEY OF THE NOT SO INNOCUOUS GIRL (The Perilous Journey of the Not So Innocuous Girl #1) Author:  Leigh Statham Pub. Date:  September 13, 2022 Publisher:  Cricket Press, LLC Genre : Steampunk, Historical Fiction, Adventure, YA Formats:  Paperback, eBook Pages:  286 Find it:   Goodreads ,  Amazon , Kindle , B&N , TBD , Bookshop.org Synopsis:  This brand new edition of the book contains updated historical facts, an amazing new cover, and extra punk for your steam machines!      Lady Marguerite lives a life most 17th-century French girls can only dream of: money, designer dresses, suitors, and a secure future. Except she can't quite commit to a life of dull luxury and she suspects she may be falling for her best friend, Claud