The Janissary Tree: A Novel Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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From Publishers Weekly
Goodwin, the author of a well-received history of the Ottoman Empire, Lords of the Horizons (1999), makes a welcome shift to fiction with this impressive first of a new mystery series set in the empire's declining decades. In 1836, though the corrupt elite troops known as the Janissaries were crushed 10 years earlier, there are ominous signs that their influence still persists in the twisted alleys and secret places of Istanbul. A series of crimes, including the barbaric murders of several soldiers and the theft of some precious jewels, leads eunuch Yashim Togalu to delve into the past in an effort to separate legend from truth. With special access to all areas of the sultan's royal court, Yashim uses his network of contacts to try to solve the crimes. The author, no surprise, does an excellent job of evoking his chosen locale. While his sleuth's character may be less developed than some readers might wish, no doubt Yashim will emerge as a more rounded figure in future entries of what one hopes will be a long-running series. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Historian Goodwin, author of Lords of the Horizons (1999), introduces a promising new mystery series set in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. When a string of murders disturbs the tenuous tranquility of the sultan's royal court, savvy eunuch Yashim Togalu is called upon to investigate. Digging deeper into the past in order to understand the perils of the present, Yashim discovers a link between the crimes and the Janissaries, a disloyal band of elite soldiers banned by the sultan ten years earlier. As Yashim wends his way in and out of the opulent palace and through the sordid back alleys of nineteenth-century Istanbul, the reader is treated to an appropriately exotic tour of a time and a place where intrigue, deceit, and corruption fueled perilous personal and political passions. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
There are some excellent and fascinating descriptions of 1830s Istanbul, and the hero - a eunuch - shows promise at the beginning. However each chapter is so disjointed from the one before it, and so many different - and apparently unconnected - characters are introduced that it was only because this is a book club choice that I continued to plough through it.
The denoument, when it finally comes (and I was beginning to wonder!) is hackneyed in the extreme.
I am quite sure that Mr. Goodwin's non-fiction titles are a lot more interesting than this book.
The setting is as fascinating as a place ca be. Istanbul in the beginning of nineteenth century. Struggling between a glorious past, and a bleak future. Jason Goodwin does an excellent job in bringing it to life vividly through a cast of colorful characters. You can almost smell the bazaars and the musty alleys.
The eunuchs, the harem, the sultan, the soldiers, the mythical branches of Islam, the diplomats, and the kocek dancers make for an excellent story. The whole story is seen through the eyes of Yashim the main character, and with expediency of crime solving on a deadline. It reminds me a bit of Dan Brown's sagas such as "The Da Vinci Code" or "Angels and Demons". A chase through an ancient city where nothing really is the way it looks, and everything apparently simple is a symbol for something deep.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book as easy to read, pleasant, and intelligent. If you are every so slightly interested in the once mighty Ottoman empire, this book is for you.
By Jason Goodwin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Istanbul in the year of 1836. This mystical city, known in earlier times as Byzantium, Constantinople, even the second Rome, is brewing a revolution. You can taste it in the air. The Sultan, an aging man fond of drink and certain western ideologies, is about to issue an edict that will force the modern world upon his people. A valued collection of Napoleonic jewels has been stolen from the palace. In seemingly unrelated incidents, a young woman about to become a full member of the harem and an officer, one of four missing members of the New Guard, are found murdered. Someone has left a disturbing poem on the Janissary Tree-that infamous landmark the vanquished Old Guard once hung their enemies upon. And Russia, anticipating more turmoil, is preparing to advance on the city.
The valide, the Sultan's mother, who has thrived in the violent world of Ottoman politics, suspects a coup is underway. Her son's seraskier, the head of the armed forces, is only concerned with putting on a good review the day of the edict, with showing people that the backbone of the empire is unbreakable. The Sultan? He's keeping his opinions to himself but has sent for a man named Yashim Togalu.
Yashim is called the lala, the guardian. This is a title of respect given to men who have been charged with the responsibility of caring for families and households of rich and powerful people. These men are trusted with women and children because they are all-without exception-eunuchs, men who have been castrated at an early age.Read more ›
Goodwin succeeds in giving us an entrée into a vanished world that exists now only in the palaces and museums of modern-day Turkey. Yashim is a humane and credible figure and sequels are welcome.
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