Betrothal and Betrayal: The Empress Irini Series*

By Janet McGiffin (Scotland Street Press)

Betrothal and Betrayal


Review by Auarda, The Kingston Academy Surrey
I found Thelka (the main character) most interesting because she is very complex and rebellious. Myrkos (the betrothed to Thelka) because he is a coward and made her do a long journey instead of just telling her he didn't like her.

It gave a glimpse as to what society was like towards individuals of different backgrounds. The use of descriptive language gave a clear image of the surroundings. I did not know much about this period in time so I learnt something new.

The plot was quite interesting, both light hearted and thought-provoking. The characters were suitable and made the book more interesting. I want to learn more about religion and culture in Constantinople before it became Istanbul.

I would recommend this book to students who enjoy books set in the past and who like to ‘look into the window’ of the past.

Review by Izzabella, Thomas Telford School Shropshire
I enjoyed this new challenge of reading Betrothal and Betrayal by Janet McGriffin as it was exciting to explore new genres and get immersed in different types of stories. For me, mixing history and action was a powerful combination as I gained a better understanding of life in another time period and place. Additionally, I was able to retain a level of enjoyment and satisfaction when reading the book due to it dramatic scenes and events that take place. It was especially great in order to broaden my horizon of the extents of my learning and discover new interests. 

From the beginning, Janet McGriffin’s beautiful writing techniques instantly hooked me, Betrothal and Betrayal includes vivid descriptions of the characters' outfits and engaging scenes that make the reader feel like they are stepping back in time as the story continues. This book is packed with secrets and suspense, alongside elements of political mischief. It's a thrilling read that constantly kept me on the edge of my seat. One of my favourite characters was Empress Irini of Athens, in my opinion she is a fascinating woman from medieval history who engaged me as she was a key part of the plot. I am interested in reading more books with historical focuses alongside the truly engaging characters that take the book to a new level, I look forward to reading the next in the series, “Poison is a Woman’s Weapon’.

The author: Janet McGriffin, worked in Washington before moving to Athens, Greece where she wrote grant proposals for small non-profit women's organisations in Mediterranean countries. This is significant as it enabled her to be inspired by the views she witnessed and the places she visited. Her book is built upon the foundation of a well researched setting, that successfully focused of the daily life of people in the eastern Roman Empire, its rather impressive writing. As a reader, I enjoyed this level of detail as I valued the effort and time it would have taken to research the area of Grece which McGriffin included within her book. Betrothal and Betrayal was quite short but a sufficient length due to the accuracy and specific factors included when focusing on setting.

Review by Shanjirra, Ursuline Academy Ilford
Betrothal & Betrayal is a book written by Janet McGiffin. This book is the first of the Empress Irini Series. When I went home after getting the book I read the blurb which intrigued me. It falls under the genre of Young adult and Historical fiction which together makes a captivating story. At the front, there are maps of the ‘Empire of the Roans of the East’ and Constantinople which helped me envision the time it was set in, and the constant referrals to the places helped me feel engaged with the book as I didn’t have to know the places well before reading the book. It was also accompanied by a glossary at the back of the book which was useful. This book helped me learn more about the Byzantine Empire and encouraged me to research it too.

My favourite character would be the main character Thekla. She is an iconic character from my perspective. She is feisty and straight to the point. This attitude also shows how women in Byzantine society weren’t oppressed like they were in modern history. She is seen to be a strong female character who is seen holding a knife which she carelessly uses. At the beginning of the book, her groom doesn’t show up to her Wedding so she sets off to Constantinople to find him. In the book, we go on this journey with Thekla where we meet more people.

Overall this was a captivating and interesting book to read I enjoyed it and will be reading the next in the series after that cliffhanger!

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