Set in the Byzantine Empire at the end of the first millennium, Silk Dreams is an adventurous love story between two Northerners, Erik and Valdis. Erik is a soldier who serves the emperor. On a visit to the slave market, he sees Valdis and is immediately attracted to her, but a eunuch in the Emperor’s household outbids him. Valdis is beautiful despite a pair of mismatched eyes and the fact that she has the falling sickness, which combined with her eyes leads her owner to believe she has the gift of a seer—a prophetess. The eunuch hires Erik to teach her to speak Greek, as he plans to make her a spy when he sells her to a wealthy and powerful silk merchant who fancies himself a “kingmaker.”
Ms. Groe writes evocative prose that brings the reader right into the scene. Her description of a staged sea battle is very exciting, and her portrayal of the effects of an epileptic seizure is sympathetic. The pacing, however, is a little pedantic.