Dawn Empress by Faith L. Justice (review)

Dawn Empress
by Faith L. Justice

Publication Date: May 15, 2020

Raggedy Moon Books

Series: The Theodosian Women, Book 2

Genre: Historical Fiction


As Rome reels under barbarian assaults, a young girl must step up…

After the Emperor’s unexpected death, ambitious men eye the Eastern Roman throne occupied by seven-year-old Theodosius II. His older sister Princess Pulcheria faces a stark choice: she must find allies and take control of the Eastern court or doom the imperial children to a life of obscurity–or worse! Beloved by the people and respected by the Church, Pulcheria forges her own path to power. Can her piety and steely will protect her brother from military assassins, heretic bishops, scheming eunuchs and–most insidious of all–a beautiful, intelligent bride? Or will she lose all in the trying?

Dawn Empress tells Pulcheria’s little-known and remarkable story. Her accomplishments rival those of Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great as she sets the stage for the dawn of the Byzantine Empire.

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About the Author

author_pic faithljustice

Faith L. Justice writes award-winning novels, short stories and articles published in venues such as Salon.com, “Writer’s Digest, and The Copperfield Review. A varied life provides the staples for Faith’s stories. Day jobs included lifeguard, paralegal, computer systems analyst, human resources executive, college professor, and freelance writer. Travel and research provides the spice. She haunts the leading museums of Europe, tramps the streets of ancient ruins, and volunteers at archaeological sites. Faith is Chair of the Historical Novel Society-New York City Chapter and Associate Editor of Space & Time Magazine. Currently, she writes in her historic home “The Suffragette House” in Brooklyn, New York where she lives with her family and cats. Sample her stories and books, check out her blog, find out where she travels next, or ask Faith a question at her website: at www.faithljustice.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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~My Thoughts~

With threats from barbarians at the borders and plotting within the Empire, Dawn Empress brings fifth century Imperial Rome and the rather obscure Augusta, Pulcheria, to life.  

In this second book of her series The Theodosian Women, Faith L. Justice unfolds a multi-faceted story of a strong, intelligent woman whose dedication to her family is part and parcel of her need for power, struggles with pride, and a lifelong dedication to Christian piety that serves a dual purpose and brings both safety and hardship to more than a few. This is a layered story of a complicated woman, from her early days as observer, to her years as her younger brothers Regent then Advisor, through years of estrangement and the danger of losing everything, including her freedom.

One of several powerful Theodosian women, Pulcheria is an uneasy heroine. While admirable in some respects – and often revered by the people of Constantinople for her pledge of holy virginity and service to the poor – there are aspects of her character that tend to place the reader’s sympathies more with other members of her family.

While relatively little is known about Pulcheria, the author skillfully takes what is known and blends history and fiction to form a compellingly readable narrative of a woman who sought to maintain her place and her faith within the Eastern Roman Empire.  

The review above refers to a finished copy I voluntarily received, courtesy of the author, through #HFVBTBlogTours. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own.