Once, Theodora was little more than a slave, the daughter of a bear-keeper, running barefoot through the streets of Constantinople. Now she is Theou doron, 'the Gift of God', Empress of Byzantine Rome and the most powerful woman in the world. In Stella Duffy's compelling new novel, the beguiling and extraordinary Empress Theodora emerges from the shadow of history into brilliant light. Clever, courageous and ruthless when betrayed, Theodora rules alongside her husband, the Emperor Justinian - a true love match in a world of political marriages. While wars rage on the borders of the Empire, Theodora discovers that the greatest danger to her reign - and her life - lies much closer to home. From the catastrophic and terrifying riots that burn through the city; to vengeful enemies at the palace who will never accept 'Theodora-from-the-brothel'; to plagues and plots and murder, Theodora learns what it truly means to be Empress.Spanning over twenty dramatic years of Theodora's reign, The Purple Shroud is a vivid portrait of a charismatic, exceptional woman and a fascinating exploration of both the pleasures and the burdens of power.