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The Sheen on the Silk

A Novel
Written by: Anne Perry
Narrated by: Angela Dawe
Length: 18 hrs and 58 mins

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Publisher's Summary

Arriving in the ancient Byzantine city in the year 1273, Anna Zarides has only one mission: to prove the innocence of her twin brother, Justinian, who has been exiled to the desert for conspiring to kill Bessarion, a nobleman. Disguising herself as a eunuch named Anastasius, Anna moves freely about in society, using her skills as a physician to maneuver close to the key players involved in her brother’s fate.

With her medical practice thriving, Anna crosses paths with Zoe Chrysaphes, a devious noblewoman with her own hidden agenda, and Giuliano Dandolo, a ship’s captain conflicted not only by his mixed Venetian-Byzantine heritage but by his growing feelings for Anastasius.

Trying to clear her brother’s name, Anna learns more about Justinian’s life and reputation, including his peculiar ties to Bessarion’s beautiful widow and his possible role in a plot to overthrow the emperor. This leaves Anna with more questions than answers, and time is running out. For an even greater threat lies on the horizon: Another Crusade to capture the Holy Land is brewing, and leaders in Rome and Venice have set their sights on Constantinople for what is sure to be a brutal invasion.

Anna’s discoveries draw her inextricably closer to the dangers of the emperor’s treacherous court - where it seems that no one is exactly who he or she appears to be.

Richly detailed and finely wrought, The Sheen on the Silk is a bold and brilliant work that affirms Anne Perry’s talent as a master storyteller.

©2010 Anne Perry (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • connie
  • 2010-05-08

not my cup of tea

Perhaps if you like Perry AND "Pillars of the Earth" and/or "Sacred Hearts" type listens, you'll enjoy this.

As in her Victorian series, Perry is good on verisimilitude- detail of clothes and food and buildings- but I'm not sure she gets the history of the mentalities any better (but either does Follet). I think Perry's prose is better than usual and she attempts to be more literary in "Sheen" - but still I found it very tedious - too many improbable conversations and even more improbable overheard conversations. At least Perry doesn't assault the ears with graphic violence and sex like a "Pillars."

The narrator was competent but wouldn't be my choice for this novel-too young and breathy.

One of us - either Perry or me -- should stick with the 19th century.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • 2010-09-17


Anne Perry never ceases to amaze me!! Well researched and thought provoking as well as a great story. Reader was also excellent.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Wadie
  • 2010-10-03

Oh my!

I couldn't get into the William Monk series by Anne Perry. Just not my cup of tea. This book came out of left field to whack me in the head! Wow. I wasn't just listening to a story, I was immersed in the world of 13th century Byzantine culture. I know a little about Byzantine culture and this book inspired me to learn much more. It is long and has the occasional dragging any long book does but I was very sorry when it was over. In the character of Zoe Chrysaphes, Perry has created an icon. Is she a villain or just willing to do whatever it takes to save her culture and country? The behavior of the main character, Anna Zarides, may seem unbelievable at first. It is, a little. We have to remember the restrictions put on the behavior of women in 1271 anywhere, and still in some places today. I really enjoyed this book, even the slow parts. It is complicated and you need to pay attention but the book made me want to get in the car and drive, even to go to work!

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • wendy bond
  • 2010-12-05


I just could not care about the characters, I would not recommend this book, I have enjoyed her other books.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2011-05-17

Lot's of detail but painfully dull.

I like historic novels with tons of detail. The problem with this book is there is no direction. I could only take 7 hours. The narrator does her best, but their are too many characters with rich description and no story.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Old Mama Speaks
  • 2011-04-20

Had to give up

I really enjoyed the Monk and Pitt series and the WW series. In preface, I must say my expectations were along these lines, just with new characters and locale. But, in the end I had to give up without finishing Sheen on the Silk and that is something I never ever do.

I think I was expecting a mystery like the other series. Granted she has the tendency to spend a lot of time discussing politics or social issues in her books, sometimes too much, unfortunately, that's pretty much all that is in this book. If you like period pieces that focus on politics or religion, then this might work for you. If you are looking for a mystery like Monk and Pitt, you won't find it unless it is in the second or third parts. Essentially at six hours in, and I think a year or two into the story, there was no more to the mystery than the background given at the beginning. Again, I don't want to trash it, just want to warn you that it seems more religious political intrigue, than a mystery.

The bottom line is that by the time I got to the end of the first part, I knew I could not go on.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Christy
  • 2011-05-09

Interesting, but difficult for listening

This is a major departure for Anne Perry. While it was interesting (intrigue both political and religious in Constantinople in the late 13th century), I found that listening to it was tough. There are many many characters from all over the world, most with compound names (several family names as well) and the inablity to check back in the text I found to be a hindrance.
Fortunately, I had a hard copy of the book as well after listening to the first half and found that there was a list of characters in the front of the book -- a huge help!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • judyb
  • 2012-08-10

Not for me.

Would you try another book from Anne Perry and/or Angela Dawe?

I would choose one of Perry's Monk or Pitt stories over this. Sheen on the Silk was not something that interested me & not at all what I expected from this author!

What was most disappointing about Anne Perry’s story?

The story went on & on & on and never seemed to get to a point.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Angela Dawe?

A narrator with more depth for the characters would have helped a lot. Dawe's voice was too light and "breathy" for this book.

1 person found this helpful