Perhaps a more accurate title would be 'Tales from Byzantium Royal Families'.

This is well written historical fiction, based on what little is known about the closed world of the Byzantium ruling dynasties.

Unfortunately we have only three short stories making for a thin read, but better a little quality that reams of dross.

The stories centre on romance, military strategy, and power politics, combining to give the reader a very credible feeling for what life for the ruling families may have been like. Stephenson writes very well, maintaining interest and creating some very plausible speculative characters. Putting flesh on thin history is a skill, which these brief glimpses demonstrate with aplomb.

Perhaps a couple of speculative fictions, even if even less well glazed with known history, would have helped create a better rounded book. For example, we might have liked to read the story of a soldier at the Battle of Kleidion, or that of his mother, or of a priest at the time of the Great Schism, or of a boatman's family on the Bosphorus.

What we have been given is five star- but five stars of desperately little. Get writing, Eileen Stephenson.

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