The empire nobody’s ever heard of…

Plus…the origin of the word ‘Byzantine’ and the enduring fascination of Bad Women!

Last first. You might have heard of Messalina, Semiramis, Jezebel…and maybe, Theodora. Legendary for their sex appeal, indiscriminate horniness, oh, and I almost forgot, being head honchesses of their respective mighty empires. Messalina, a wayward house-empress, did nothing much but screw around during her shortish tenure as wife of the Emperor Claudius of Rome, but Semiramis ruled Assyria, led armies to victory and apparently supervised an impressive monumental building program, among other things. Jezebel’s dad ruled the Phoenician empire; bailed up finally by marauding Jewish troops she put on her finest ‘face’ and most magnificent outfit for a courageous, if tragic, last stand. And Theodora…ah, Theodora.

She was a highly skilled and successful sex worker who married the guy – Justinian – destined to become one of the most famed rulers of the eastern Roman Empire. Ever heard of the church (now mosque) of Hagia Sofia in Istanbul? Justinian had that built. Modern legal code? Based, in principle, on Justinian’s Codex systematising Roman law to date. Theodora was a noted feminist – she got Justinian to ban brothel slavery, give married women property rights, and if husbands turned up to court complaining about stuff like their wives not being virgins, they were liable to be fined, en-dungeoned or at the very least laughed out of the room.

More to the point for writers of bosom-heaving fiction, she was gorgeous and notorious (at least in her time) for apparently once wishing she had more orifices with which to fuck. Anyway, her and her hubby ruled what was left of the Roman Empire from a city then known as Constantinople, now Istanbul, but in Greek classical times Byzantium, gateway between the Greek east and the Persian west. Rome by this time was a rat-ridden, crumbling non-entity, so what came to be known as the Byzantine Empire at its peak included Greece, most of what’s now Turkey, the Balkans, Egypt, Palestine and some of Italy, North Africa and Spain. Over a thousand years, from when the Visigoths sacked Rome in 410 to when Sultan Mehmed II sacked Constantinople in 1453, Constantinople was perhaps the most sophisticated, decadent and magnificent city in Europe. Meanwhile its rulers were among the most devious, duplicitous and inventively cruel; thus the word ‘Byzantine’.

Why all this history? Because my new book, All The Evils – set in Theodora and Justinian’s Constantinople – has just been released, and right now I need reviews!

The story begins when our heroine Anastasia – fresh back from a dangerous mission in the provinces – agrees to use her newfound influence with the Empress and Justinian’s corrupt minister John the Cappadocian to save her best friend’s charioteer boyfriend from execution for brawling.

Little does she know that his fate will become the catalyst for a week of riot, bloodshed and destruction the like of which the city has never seen. As Constantinople burns, Anastasia is embroiled in political intrigue – and a love affair with a violent but oddly charming barbarian from the far north. Here’s an excerpt.

The book is a sequel to Pandora’s Jar, which takes Anastasia from Constantinople to the court of Khosroe of Persia in pursuit of a runaway teenage bride and a pagan plot against the Empire.

Both books are available until the end of January for $0.99 (usually $2.99) so if you’re Byzantically inclined, feel free to buy and please – REVIEW! You can review either:

And finally – isn’t it time we stopped being so prissy about the sex lives of powerful women? Anyone else for the historical resurrection of Jezebel, in all her brave, sexy glory?


  1. Love these factoids! “Messalina, a wayward house-empress, did nothing much but screw around during her shortish tenure as wife…” Messalina messed around! How aptly named. Or is messing around named after Messalina. This would be a great name if I get another cat. Herbert the Cat might consent if she is like her namesake……

  2. It looks like you’ve made the switch to Draft2Digital like I have. Good luck with that.

    It looks like the book isn’t yet available on Amazon, do you know when it will be?

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