Hooray for random mail deliveries!

It must be Christmas. Got a pile of packages in the mail all at once today, including some lab stuff (not shown).

I’m looking forward to Twilight of the Gods (maybe this weekend, if I’m a good boy and get my grading done), but does anyone know anything about the Theodora book? I’m always up for learning about Byzantine empresses, but this is one of those things where I didn’t request it, a prescient publisher just thinks I should take a look at it.


  1. CJO says

    Theodora’s story is crazy. Daughter of a bear trainer, herself a comedian, actress and prostitute, becomes Empress by marriage to Justinian. The Nika riots, which caused a fire that cleared the area of Constantinople on which the Hagia Sophia in its last incarnation would be built (by order of Justinian), nearly led to his abdication as he was getting set to flee the city. Theodora’s famous reply: “Purple makes the noblest shroud.”

  2. says

    I looked at Twilight of the Gods, and the part that stood out to me is… it was designed by Chris Kluwe? The former football player, and author of Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies? That’s cool.

  3. Bruce Fuentes says

    Potter has written a few books of that time period. I would think a book of this length about Theodora must take some licenses. We just don’t know that much. Like his other books he probably weaves in a lot about the general period. If you like reading straight, hard history it should be good.

  4. Vivec says

    Yep! Chris is a real cool dude irl, and the game plays well. Granted, it’s largely “MTG but with weird resource management”, but it’s been fun to play as of yet.

  5. brucegee1962 says

    I didn’t know you were a gamer, PZ, and I’ve been reading this blog for a while. Maybe I just missed it? You should blog about your favorite games sometime.

  6. chrislawson says

    The story of Theodora is extraordinary. There are lots of differing interpretations of her history based on the various accounts (which are, of course, incomplete given the distance of history and other factors), so she can be drawn as a machiavellian villain or a sympathetic master of survival in a Byzantine court resentful of the young circus girl who married the emperor. When you throw in her contemporaries like Belisarius and Antonina, Narses, and the events of her lifetime like the Nike Riots, the reconquest of the West, and so on, a decent writer should be able to construct a very readable book.

  7. Erp says

    Theodora is a fascinating character. However historians are a bit wary of some of the stories since the major contemporary chronicler of the time, Procopius, wrote two histories. One of which was semi-official and the other most certainly was not. The latter contains a lot of scandalous material on the powers of that time including Theodora.

    Guy Gavriel Kay’s duology, The Sarantine Mosaic, pulls some stuff from his histories.

  8. Tethys says

    I vaguely remembered reading about Theodora, but had to poke around before I could place the exact book. It is historic fiction, and I remember it being an excellent read. The BearKeepers Daughter by Gilian Bradshaw

  9. whheydt says

    L. Sprague de Camp alluded to what Procopius said about Theodora in the Secret History in _Lest Darkness Fall_.

  10. Derek Vandivere says

    Well, that fake tag didn’t work! It was meant to be a generic plug for Guy Gavriel Kay, for people who dig historical fiction and fantasy.

  11. chrislawson says

    Procopius was off his gourd by the time he wrote The Secret History. It’s one of the most entertaining history books I’ve read because it’s so completely insane it’s a kind of 6th century X Files (only not intended as fiction). But that also means it’s hard to take seriously as a primary source.

  12. bhebing says

    Part of Theodora’s story has been reimagined by Guy Gavriel Kay in the Sarantium books. Those books are recommended anyhow, if you’re into a bit of semi fantastical historic fiction.