"Seated together on the balcony, they delighted in the beauty of their ever-changing land, where black cypresses grew by round towers and giant plane-trees spread dappled shade..."

Lyrical prose, an expert grasp of historical detail, and deftly honed plausible imagination define award-winning author Worth’s passionate seventh novel. A historical romance set from 1448 to 1453 against the dramatic backdrop of the Eastern Roman Empire’s final days, this love story for the ages culminates in tragedy: the prophesied fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire and the demise of Emperor Constantine XI. By the time Constantine XI ascends his throne, the once great empire of eastern Christendom has been reduced to a mere blip on the map—a bit of land surrounding the city of Constantinople, the Queen of Cities. Although much has been written and recorded about the empire, emperor, and era, many facets of this history, including Constantine’s supposed secret third marriage, remain a mystery debated by scholars to this day.

Worth’s prose is evocative and sensual. Seemingly without effort, she paints brilliant word pictures of place, setting, and character that bring this distant fragment of history and its players to life on the page. Readers will be instantly transported from the prologue onward into the enigmatic world of Anna Palaeologina (Zoe) Notaras, Emperor Constantine XI, and the emperor’s lovestruck Venetian military commander, Justiniani, who may have saved Zoe’s life before or during the final battle between Ottoman and Byzantine forces. The book also features Worth’s extended author’s note, an illuminating exploration of historical facts supporting this novel, which states that “[Anna] lived another fifty-four years after the fall and never married... she won for herself an illustrious reputation as a patron of the arts and the refuge of destitute Greeks” in Venice. Certainly, this novel is a sweeping and unforgettable tale worthy of further consideration by historians and one to fuel many creative daydreams of dramatists and filmmakers.

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