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Summary

In Alma Alexander's enthralling new novel, Simonis is a woman who lived many lives before rising to the top - a helpless child in circus performances, an accomplished courtesan and spy, a heretic who sheltered men thought to be damned for what they believed.

Emperor Maxentius is the man who loves her enough to drape the Imperial purple over her shoulders even though his entire culture recoils. When he marries Simonis and gives her the name Callidora, he makes her a partner in the ruling of the empire.

When the Empire faces a rebellion that appears unstoppable, Maxentius and his generals are prepared to flee the raging mobs. But Callidora announces that the men can do what they want, but she will not run.

The men are shamed into standing their ground and the Empire survives.

Based on the historical characters of Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora, this is a grand, gorgeous, sweeping, utterly unforgettable vision of an already amazing tale.

©2016 Alma Hromic Deckert (P)2017 Alma Hromic Deckert

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  • J and M
  • 10-10-17

Empress

This was a really good story. It was my first experience with Alma Alexander. And, while I liked the story, it was a bit too long when it didn't have to be. There were too many instances of telling instead of showing that slowed the pace and stagnated. And, too much time trying to figure out what was happening with each character as they were slowly developed. That said, it was a very good story, and obvious that Ms. Alexander is a talented writer whose style harkens back to an earlier time. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed these sort of period pieces. I loved the characters, and felt their struggles. In many instances you could see life in ancient Rome and Greece as the characters tried to live and survive through this time with all it's harsh realities.

This is my second Siobhan Waring book, and just like the first, she narrates beautifully. She conveys all of the feeling, sentiments, and emotions of each character throughout while having such a lyrical voice that lulls the listener into the story. She is fast becoming a favorite narrator.

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  • Dee
  • 14-08-20

Wow! Great listen!!

Before I get into the story, I must give the narrator her due. Waring is exceptional in every aspect of this performance. She. Was. Awesome.

The story is based on two actual Byzantine emperors and empresses, Empress Theodora and Emperor Justinian. There is enough historical fact to please purists and enough "other" to really round out a great story.

This was a long listen spanning several years in the life of Simonis, the would be empress. The things she had to endure were hard to listen to but since the outcome is known (by the title), they were bearable. Still, there could be some triggers.

Maxentius, the soon-to-be emperor, had his own issues to contend with. This story really starts to come alive when they meet and set the course of history.

Great listen!!



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  • Kindle Customer
  • 28-10-20

Give Me The Life That I Was Meant To Live

The narration was excellent! Even the accent of the reader seemed to lend authenticity to the story being read!

This is a great love story! A romance based in a harsh historical time, of royals, commoners changing their names and futures in becoming aristocracy, black plague, riots and coliseum-style races (Hippodrome) and court intrigues. The story is very well written and absolutely worth the read. You come to know and cheer for the main characters, even understand their reasoning/motivations for all their decisions, loyalties, fears and triumphs.

Simonis ie Callidora (based off Empress Theodora) starts life as a bear keepers daughter in the Hippodrome. She has a special affinity for wild animals, but is especially linked with a female bear who's cub was wrenched away from her. After her father dies, she, her mother and sisters do whatever they must in order to survive. This includes Simonis becoming a courtesan (honey trap) who gleans info from her lovers. Wanting her freedom, Simonis gambles it all on a soon-to-be small time governor....a bad move! One that leaves her abandoned with a daughter. But, in her escaping from domestic violence, she comes to know more about the Creator, the One God, who she asks to "give her the life she was meant to live!" And HE does. She meets Maxsentius, the love of her life, who raised her up to be an empress. That love defines her life, fights, decisions both good and bad, and creates the reason for her place in history.

It's also the story of Marcus ie Maxsentius (based off Emperor Justinian) who comes from life as a peasant farmer to the house of his childless soldier uncle. That uncle adopts him, makes him his heir, gives him a house, education, position and shows him the value of the love of a woman regardless of lineage. Maxsentius helps him become Emperor, then inherits the position from him. Maxsentius falls in love with Simonis at first sight, then their story together truly begins.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. Being given this book didn't influence my review. I genuinely enjoyed it and wouldn't object to relistening to it.

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  • Dennis
  • 24-02-20

Byzantine Empire

The audiobook is a story based on some actual facts from the time of the Byzantine Empire after Rome was split into parts. The characters are not real but their story is told from some of the history of the empire before the Byzantine Empire Collapse. It is a story of love, deceit, the one god, false god and the emperor and empress. A story were you can wish for something and it may happen in this story it actually happens to the historical figure of the Emperor and Empress country boy and bear handler daughter to of the lowest positions next to actors and people of the street. You live their lives from when the girl is eight years old and the boy fifteen and you live the joys and the sadness of their life and their hard work to accomplish a dream that would lead to better and stronger empire. You live thru the days of the black death were two third of the city and empire dies and the Emperor is among the first to survive the Black Death and tries to to rebuild the empire anyway they can they sale lands and homes to put the money into building and buying food for the citizens but an old enemy appears and start trouble and over throw the Emperor and Empress for revenge. In all the years they reigned they fought no wars and for the first time there was peace in the empire and barbarians countries but in one day there is revolution, murder and old enemies tries to appoint another emperor while the old one still lives and that day 20,000 were killed by the army and the instigators were captured and tried and put to death. After that one day the Byzantine Empire never was what it had been in it heydays and the books ends with the death of the Empress.
The author and narrator brought the audiobook to life and you could feel the joy and pain and the love of the Emperor and the Empress till death did separate them. The books ends a way were the author tells the real history that the audiobook was based on and show who the real Emperor and Empress were and show some of the facts on the riot and death of so many.
I do recommend this audiobook you find yourself one minute laughing and the next crying and in someway you smell everything in the city from the dirt roads to the animals dung but you also smell the flowers, and perfumes so check this out you want be disappointed. .