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Harem [Hardcover]

Colin Falconer


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Book Description

January 1993
Set in the 16th-century Ottoman Empire, this novel follows the fortunes of several disparate characters whose destinies gradually weave together.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; 1st Edition edition (January 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340564067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340564066
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16 x 4.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 739 g

Product Description

About the Author

"I was 18 years old, I'd just left school and got a job in London, working in an insurance company. I was working inside - in an office! My mother thought that was like being CEO of Shell Oil. "I was late one morning, I took a short cut through the church yard to the station to catch my train. I'd just finished reading The Sun Also Rises the night before; and here I was looking at all these gravestones, I remember thinking: Gee, we're not here very long. Better make it count. "So I went home, told my mother I was quitting my job and going to Morocco. She damned near fainted." After travelling through Spain and Africa, Colin hitch-hiked across Europe to Sweden to visit a girlfriend he'd met the year before on a football tour. When he finally got back home, he was still restless. After failing to make the grade as a professional football player, he travelled around Asia; his experiences in Bangkok and India later inspired his thriller VENOM, and his adventures in the jungles of the Golden Triangle of Burma and Laos were also filed away for later, the basis of his OPIUM series about the underworld drug trade. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  140 reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull, mistaken laden and Misogynistic Dec 1 2013
By A. Hodgkins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What upset me most about this wretched book is that it many will read it and think it is plausible depiction of the reign of Suleiman the magnificent. In a well crafted work of historical fiction, the author weaves his story into the silent spaces in the historical record; filling the gaps in what is known with a tale that is compelling and believable. This piece is a sad mockery of that genre. We known that during his unprecedentedly long reign, Sultan Suleiman broke with all established traditions in his relationship with a concubine of probable Ukrainian origin who he renamed Hurrem "the laughing one." Not only did she bear him five children; four sons and a daughter, breaking the one concubine one son rule, he granted her freedom, married her and kept her by his side when her sons were sent to assume their governorships within the empire. We know that she was his political confidant and that that she was the patron of several charitable projects in Mecca, Jerusalem and Istanbul. We know that her influence over the Sultan and affairs of state were referenced in letters and various historical records. There is also evidence of her rivarly with the mother of Crown Prince Mostafa and suggestion of conspiracy in his death with the Grand Vizer Rostom Pasha (who was her son in law). Falconer is correct, we do not know what is in the hearts of the dead, but to construct from this skeleton of information a portrait of a soulless, conniving woman so singular focused on revenge is nothing short of the same myopic misogyny surrounding accounts of other historically powerful women or women who defied tradition and convention. The historical Roxelana was kidnapped from her family, sold into slavery and was by her whits (and most likely trickery and deception as needed) able to rise to power. While the poetry left by Sultan Sulieman suggests he was "bewitched" by her, Falconer's shallow assumption that she was, therefore, a witch is as jarring as the books many typos and errors.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written and interesting historical fiction. May 5 2012
By Bob Jarvis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was very entertained by the wonderful descriptions of Constantinople in general and the insides of the various palaces of the Sultan in particular. The desperate moods and indolent lifestyles of the harem women is also compellingly presented. I found no problem with the historical settings and main events.
Characters are well drawn and multi-faceted, from the loathsome, conniving and cruel Hurrem, and Suleiman the Great, shown here as a weak, petulant and pathetic figure, that stretches the imagination somewhat given his significaant actual lifetime acheivements. These two are nicely counter-balanced by the Sultan's mother, the Valide, who's loyalty and nobility are certainly a breath of fresh air in the Topkapi palace. The noble-hearted Abbas is also an inspirational yet luckless figure. I was less impressed by the simpering, fearful, heroine Julia and hope she finds some much needed courage in the sequel. Be that as it may, one does become very satisfactorily interested and involved in the outcome of each and every one.
The book is essentially dedicated to the main individuals' trials, tribulations and in many cases, sufferings but I did feel the absence of a significant, major, overall plot was a disappointment. The Ottoman Empire sort of goes on as a side-show to the juicy palace internal intrigues.
Disappointed by a number of mis-spellings that really should have been proof-read out at whatever level of publishing this book went through. What do you mean "She was weary nothing"?
Will certainly give The Seraglio a spin.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too Many Errors July 9 2013
By Cynthia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There were major flaws in the story. The author (or editor) got the characters mixed up. For example: a father dies and a page later the daughter hopes he pays a ransom for her. Lots of missing words and sentences that didn't make sense. Sorry but will not read another book by this author.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Where are the proofreaders? April 2 2014
By Brenda Tajik - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The only reason I made myself finish this book was because I did like the story. Unfortunately, the misuse of words, misspelling, grammatical and punctuation errors makes this book impossible to recommend! I see these problems all the time now, everywhere. Books, newspapers, you name it. I'm not an English teacher, far from it. This book was FILLED with errors! I used to mention this problem in reviews all the time, but nothing changes. If the retailers, publishers and authors don't care then why waste my time. The only reason I am posting this review is because the story was worth it: worth reading and my complaints!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Speculative History Jan. 27 2003
By "azmi21" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Colin weaves a vivid tapestry of the medieval turkish world. This story is an engaging story of a female slave using her wits and charms to survive and ultimately win the right as the Sultan's consort. Her mastery of political deception is diabolocal and her revenge sweet. Her son takes the throne but it was not of the Sultan's blood - thus ensuring the fall of the Ottoman Empire. This was all Colin's speculation, but who knows the truth may not be so removed from this afterall.
Great & Wonderful.

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