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The Dervish House Paperback – Oct 1 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 359 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr (Oct. 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781616145453
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616145453
  • ASIN: 1616145455
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.4 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #376,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

"McDonald creates a magnificent knot of intrigue, thrills, and daring adventures, with the flair for character and setting that makes his tales so satisfying to indulge in." 
-Booklist

"An audacious look at the shift in the power centers of the world and an intense vision of one possible future." 
-New York Times Book Review

"This twisting, turning, part futuristic fantasy, part intuitive prediction satisfies without divulging all its secrets, just like the city." 
-Time Out Istanbul

"As close to perfection as a book can get. . . . If you only have money to buy a single sci-fi novel this year, this has to be it. Impossible to put down." 
-Pat's Fantasy Hotlist

“The complex plot and its unique characters make for an intriguing read. McDonald weaves several plotlines together with a whirling dervish house, a character in its own right, as the common denominator.”
-RT Book Reviews, 4 stars  

“In the end, spending some time with these six characters in the fascinating city of Istanbul was pure enjoyment. Look for The Dervish House on the shortlists of the major SF&F awards next year. Highly recommended. 41/2 out of 5 stars”
-Fantasy Literature 

The Dervish House cements Ian McDonald’s status as a first class talent, and one of my all-time favorite authors. He continues to depict the future of non-western cultures with creativity, depth, and verve. His prose is a delight to read, his characters are lively and authentic, and he can pull you in to a near-future setting like no one else I know. I’d recommend this book to pretty much everyone.”
-SF Revu 

“A rich, accomplished portrait of near-future Istanbul that may be is the best thing McDonald has written—and that’s saying something. It is the product of a writer at the top of his game: beautifully styled, complexly characterized and plotted without ever feeling heavy or dull...half a dozen storylines are coiled together as neatly as DNA, each of them compelling and readable. McDonald manages to avoid the traps of condescension, or Orientalism, that lie in wait for the white Westerner writing about places that are neither of those things. A dervishly good book.”
- Locus 

“First, let's get one thing out of the way. Every book I’ve read in the last several months has been completely overshadowed — perhaps unfairly — by Ian McDonald’sThe Dervish House. He’s the kind of writer who has the power to alter your whole vision of what science fiction can be and do. Last year’s Cyberabad Days was among the most ferociously intelligent novels I’ve read in years, in any genre. And The Dervish House is even better. After reading a book like that, it’s hard to get excited about merely good sf novels. Or even genuinely excellent ones...This is what science fiction should be... McDonald has done the seemingly impossible. He has written a compelling, action-packed sf novel about the future of AI-based quantitative trading... But it’s no fantasy: it’s the reality that’s breathing down the backs of our necks every workday. And McDonald extrapolates from it with dizzying virtuosity...More than any other sf writer I can think of, McDonald has a complex, nuanced, fundamentally real vision of the way power works in the world.”
-Fantasy & Science Fiction

About the Author

Ian McDonald is the author of many science fiction novels, including Empress of the Sun, Planesrunner, and Be My Enemy (the Everness series); plus BrasylRiver of GodsCyberabad Days, Ares Express, Desolation RoadKing of Morning, Queen of Day, Out on Blue Six, Chaga, and Kirinya. He has won the Philip K. Dick Award and the BSFA Award, been nominated for a Hugo Award and a Quill Book Award, and has several nominations for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. The Dervish House is the the 2011 John W. Campbell Memorial Award winner for Best Novel. He lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ian McDonald has long been a part of my Pile of Shame - the books and authors I've always thought I should read, but somehow never gotten around to. In his case, I tried tackling Desolation Road a few months back, but for some reason I just lost interest halfway through, even though I enjoyed it quite a lot until that point. The Dervish House, then, was to be the novel to acquaint me with McDonald. It is his third "ethno" work after River of the Gods and Brazil, and it has generated an avalanche of on-line praise, so the timing was perfect.

Istanbul, in the year 2027. Twenty million people live there, and it is still the Queen of Cities, a crossroads of worlds and religions, a maze of ordered chaos and quiet cacophonies, of petty dramas and grand designs. A city where the old and the new, the mystical and the futuristic embrace in prayer around its many mosques. Turkey has become part of the European Union, and a major player in the nanotechnology field.

A suicidal bomber in a tram heralds the beginning of life-changing events for six people. A rogue trader prepares himself for the scam of the century. His wife, an owner of an art gallery, sets on a mission to discover a legendary treasure hidden somewhere in the great city. A young marketing graduate is hired by a family business that could change the world, but she has only five days to save it. A nine-year old boy with a heart condition that forces him to wear ear-plugs, thus stealing all sound from his world, becomes the accidental witness to the beginnings of a conspiracy, and turns into the Boy Detective. His friend, a retired Greek economist, is hired into a military think-tank, but he has to battle old demons before he could face new ones.
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Format: Hardcover
When I gave Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven its perfect score a few weeks back, I was persuaded that no other speculative fiction work could possibly even come close to it in terms of quality. And yet, I knew full well that the ARC for Ian McDonald's The Dervish House was sitting on my desk, practically begging me to read it. And still I believed that Kay's latest would reign supreme as the best SFF book of 2010 -- at least in this house. The more fool me, I know. . .

Considering how much I loved River of Gods, Brasyl, and Cyberabad Days, I'm aware that I should have waited a bit longer before granting Under Heaven its crown. After all, every McDonald title I've read since the creation of the Hotlist ended up in my top reads of that year. Call it Canadian patriotism or whatever you like, but I really wanted Guy Gavriel Kay to finish in pole position at the end of 2010. Unfortunately, Ian McDonald had another think coming for me.

The Dervish House is without a doubt his best and most accessible science fiction novel to date. And to put it simply, it just blew my mind. Believe me, I did try to find some shortcomings and facets that left a little to be desired. All to no avail, of course. The Dervish House is about as good as it gets, folks. McDonald's past novels had already set the bar rather high, no question. But this one, at least for me, is as close to perfection as a book can get.

Here's the blurb:

It begins with an explosion. Another day, another bus bomb. Everyone it seems is after a piece of Turkey. But the shock waves from this random act of twenty-first-century pandemic terrorism will ripple further and resonate louder than just Enginsoy Square.
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Format: Hardcover
Pros: lyrical writing, intricate and complex plot, exotic setting, Can's bitbots are cool

Cons: have to pay close attention (sudden flashbacks/memories, lots of minute details), minor character & place names are unusual and similar enough that they're easily confused when jumping between so many storylines (Ogun Saltuk, Selma Ozgun, Oguz, Ozer)

The novel is set in the Istanbul of 2027. Turkey is part of the EU. Nanotech is used to give people a mental edge, especially in businesses like trading and finance. And the lives of the people from the Dervish House at Adem Dede Square are about to change.

It all starts with a tram bomb. Necdet's on his way to work and is horrified when a woman blows her own head off. Traumatized by the event, he doesn't realize how badly he was affected by it until he starts seeing djinn everywhere.

Can Durukan, a 9 year boy, sends his computerized bitbot robots to the site of the bombing to see what he can see. Another robot attacks his and he's thrust into a mystery he's determined to solve.

Meanwhile, Ayse, an art dealer is offered a million Euro to find a legend, a Mellified Man.

Her husband has a deal of his own, a deal that could make him millions, or land him in jail.

Their stories and more intertwine to form a dazzling mosaic through 5 days in Istanbul. It's a sensory explosion, of names, places and actions. The plot becomes intricate fast, so pay attention when reading.

My only complaint was that so many names were similar enough between places and people, that when they were mentioned again I often couldn't remember who they were.

If you liked the lyricism of Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven, you'll love The Dervish House.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars 73 reviews
66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars McDonald at his very best! July 31 2010
By Patrick St-Denis, editor of Pat's Fantasy Hotlist - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
When I gave Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven its perfect score a few weeks back, I was persuaded that no other speculative fiction work could possibly even come close to it in terms of quality. And yet, I knew full well that the ARC for Ian McDonald's The Dervish House was sitting on my desk, practically begging me to read it. And still I believed that Kay's latest would reign supreme as the best SFF book of 2010 -- at least in this house. The more fool me, I know. . .

Considering how much I loved River of Gods, Brasyl, and Cyberabad Days, I'm aware that I should have waited a bit longer before granting Under Heaven its crown. After all, every McDonald title I've read since the creation of the Hotlist ended up in my top reads of that year. Call it Canadian patriotism or whatever you like, but I really wanted Guy Gavriel Kay to finish in pole position at the end of 2010. Unfortunately, Ian McDonald had another think coming for me.

The Dervish House is without a doubt his best and most accessible science fiction novel to date. And to put it simply, it just blew my mind. Believe me, I did try to find some shortcomings and facets that left a little to be desired. All to no avail, of course. The Dervish House is about as good as it gets, folks. McDonald's past novels had already set the bar rather high, no question. But this one, at least for me, is as close to perfection as a book can get.

Here's the blurb:

It begins with an explosion. Another day, another bus bomb. Everyone it seems is after a piece of Turkey. But the shock waves from this random act of twenty-first-century pandemic terrorism will ripple further and resonate louder than just Enginsoy Square.

Welcome to the world of The Dervish House--the great, ancient, paradoxical city of Istanbul, divided like a human brain, in the great, ancient, equally paradoxical nation of Turkey. The year is 2027 and Turkey is about to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its accession to the European Union, a Europe that now runs from the Arran Islands to Ararat. Population pushing one hundred million, Istanbul swollen to fifteen million, Turkey is the largest, most populous, and most diverse nation in the EU, but also one of the poorest and most socially divided. It's a boom economy, the sweatshop of Europe, the bazaar of central Asia, the key to the immense gas wealth of Russia and central Asia. The Dervish House is seven days, six characters, three interconnected story strands, one central common core--the eponymous dervish house, a character in itself--that pins all these players together in a weave of intrigue, conflict, drama, and a ticking clock of a thriller.

Previous novels by McDonald took some time to get into, as the author used the early part of each of his work to build the groundwork for what was to come. Uncharacteristically, in The Dervish House McDonald's tale grabs hold of you from the get-go and won't let go till you reach the very end. I wasn't expecting the novel to make such a powerful impression right from the very first pages. But as soon as that woman detonates herself inside Tram 157 near Necatibey Cadessi, any hope I had of ever being able to put down this book evaporated immediately.

Seemingly effortlessly (don't know how he manages to do it, but McDonald's always makes this look easy), the author captured the essence of 21st century Turkey on countless levels. His evocative prose brings Istanbul to life in vivid fashion. His undeniable eye for details creates an imagery and an atmosphere that will delight and impress readers in myriad ways. As is the author's wont, the worldbuilding is superb. His depiction of a futuristic Turkey now part of the EU is even more memorable than his thrilling depictions of India and Brazil were. Whether its the country's political and social psyche, or mundane details such as what people are having for breakfast, McDonald's narrative makes you feel as though you're part of the action.

The Dervish House is not split into usual chapters. Instead, the story takes place during seven days, beginning with that fateful terrorist bus bombing. The tale unfolds through the eyes of six disparate characters, with the dervish house connecting these various plotlines together. I felt at first that the contrasting personalities would perhaps create a somewhat discordant whole, but Ian McDonald makes them all come together in a surprising manner. As was the case with River of Gods, when the multilayered storylines converge, the author's genius and his gift for well-crafted characterization shine through.

Though every character has his or her part to play in the overall story arc, Necdet, who was staring at the woman on the tram when she blew herself up, could be what one might consider the central character. Yet that's not entirely true, as the rest of the cast, even if they do so sometimes indirectly, plays as important a role in the greater scheme of things. The boy Can Durukan is particularly well-realized, and his relationship with Georgios Ferentinou showed that the author possesses a deft human touch. Still, Ayse Erkoç was, for me, probably the most interesting of the bunch. Another great aspect of The Dervish House is that every single character has a backstory, making them all three-dimensional protagonists. Hence, although the novel is a thought-provoking work of science fiction, it is nevertheless a character-driven read.

The pace, even though it is never a factor, is not always crisp. The narrative slows down considerably in the POV portions of both Adnan Sarioglu and Leyla Gültasli. And yet, when McDonald's reveals the true importance of each plotline and how it's connected to the overall story arc, that's when things get really interesting!

Perhaps because fundamentalist islamic terrorists and the emergence of Turkey and its possible accession to the European Union have made the news quite often these last few years, many of the themes found within the pages of The Dervish House feel more actual and better known and understood than those of McDonald's previous novels. Which is why I feel that The Dervish House, while showcasing Ian McDonald at his very best in terms of thought-provoking storytelling skills, just might be his most accessible work to date.

The Dervish House deserves the highest possible recommendation. If you only have money to buy a single scifi novel this year, this has to be it.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Adventure in Istanbul July 12 2010
By Patrick Carroll - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this one book there's a hunt for a mummy, a dodgy gas deal, terrorists hoping to employ nano-technology, soccer, and a child detective. And a real-estate deal. And... There's a lot going on, all of it draped over the luscious stage that is Istanbul.

I really don't want to give it all away, so I'll say little more. Suffice it that all these threads get woven together to tell a really great story.

If you've been to Istanbul, that's a bonus, as you'll be able to picture the streets and neighborhoods. Also, you'll fully grok how it's perfectly possible for Istanbul to have an underground world that's barely known, and in which historical artifacts just get lost. You may even find yourself wanting to buy an antique Istanbul house, just so you can clear it to its original beautiful architecture.

Dear Lord, the more I think of it, what a great book. He's got the history of a place like Istanbul down pat, and can project forward to a new generation of "Young Turks". This is just brilliantly well done. The more I reflect on it, the more I love this book. I'll be re-reading it for years. So, thanks, Ian McDonald. Actually, more like "Go raibh maith agat".

=====

The weather is an actor in this book, just as in Kurosawa's "Stray Dog".

=====

This is the second book I've read by the author ("Brasyl", previously). The man knows his "Gaeilge" (Irish), and he's obviously been to Rio de Janeiro and Istanbul - two of my favorite cities. I feel like we're living parallel lives, but while I'm only taking pictures, he's writing great books.

=====

Something else that occurs: I think the EU's rejection of Turkey, along with growing Islamist sentiment in Turkey itself, is likely to keep this book mostly a work of fiction, Apart from ongoing ethnic cleansing (see <[...]), the rise of neighborhood shaykhs and more neighborhood shariat law, I suppose. Pity that.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Plastic Turks: Get a tourist guide, a city map, a dictionary and you're ready for writing about a foreign country! April 1 2013
By Ali Caglar Akgungor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a Turkish SF reader, it was a very interesting experience for me to read this book. As for the content, I'll be brief: There are nice details as the "mellified man" but the story is a bit mediocre. I can't understand how some people talk about the "intertwined, super deep plots" etc. in their review. I think they probably have never read Dan Simmons, Frank Herbert or even Isaac Asimov... But these are of course, question of taste. You may like or dislike a story for different reasons.

What I would like to emphasize here is something else. The book, almost everything in it, places, names, characters and dialogues look and sound extremely unnatural. Reading this book for me was like watching a TV drama about some event in Turkey, BUT: The scenario is written by Americans who never been to Turkey in their life, all Turkish characters are played by American actors. Imagine Angelina Jolie and Brat Pitt playing a Turkish couple, speaking in English while adding a couple of words in Turkish in their sentences from time to time. Basically, the "Turks" in this book look like articificial models. That's the general impression the book gives.

And I sincerely don't believe that the author has conducted an admirable "ground work", as some readers claim. You have to be from here, of course, to understand that. I think that the author came in Istanbul, passed a couple of weeks here (maximum), went to Kaş also, got back to his country with a dozen of tourist guides, city maps, an English-Turkish dictionary (maybe he uses an online one, I'm not sure), perhaps a "Short History of Turkey" style book... And he wrote this novel.

You may think I'm pitiless, but I have all the reasons to believe that the author has no respect at all for my country and takes Turkey as a simple commercial good. Otherwise, we wouldn't have so much errors in the book. All he had to do was to ask a native Turkish speaker to make a proof reading but obviously he was sure of himself. Take the funniest example:

- "Sokak" means "street" in Turkish. On city maps, we abbreviate it as "Sok." But no one says "sok" while speaking in the real life. NO ONE. There is a nice reason for that. "Sok" means "insert" (from the verb, "sokmak") It also means "penetrate" (you may very well guess in which sense it can be used for). But during the whole story, characters keep saying "sok...sok... sok...". Other similar problems exist, and they are persistent.

There are a considerable number of historical, factual, grammar and orthography errors in the book. If you speak Turkish, if you ever lived in Turkey for a relatively long period of time, they would disturb you. This book proves that it's not easy to see the essence of a country, a society, a culture. As St.Exupery puts it, "What is essential is invisible to eyes...". Writing about Turkey (or any country) requires more work and effort than this book's author thinks. This is valid even if you write about your own.

If you're not Turkish, read it then, it is ideal for reading during holiday trips: forgetting the book on the bus will be no big loss for your library.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Confusing March 17 2012
By Nibiru - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've now started this book 3 times and not got past chapter 3 each time. But I'm not going to give up on it just yet. Why? Not sure, but I thought I should give it a review to let people know that there could be issues here. I'll come back to it again later if ever I finish it.

I can't quite put my finger on why it is that I can't get past chapter 3. The writing is fine; no problem there. The story moves along; no problem. Dialogue - fine.

It chops around a bit. It has too many points of view too early. Too many characters, perhaps. I'm not really sure of the setting, the sense of place and time. Maybe there are too many new words - I can't stand high fantasy because of those stupid new names everybody has, as if everybody was born into a New Age hippy commune.

Maybe it's just me. I reserve judgement on this one until I've read the whole book, but for now all I can say is that I can't get into it - although, I can't get out of it either.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Istanbul of the future that makes one yearn for the Istanbul of the past Jan. 6 2011
By Irate Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Dervish House" is a book about many things. It is a book about technology and the way that it can change a society. It is about religious belief. But more than anything, it is a book about Istanbul, and the deep connection that its inhabitants share with it.

The book follows several different characters along several different plotlines. In the beginning, the only thing they have in common is the setting: an old building, the titular Dervish House, where most of the characters work or live. The connection between these different plotlines is almost nonexistent until 3/4 of the way through the book, but it never feels as if the novel is unfocused. The characters are sufficiently engaging that their stories are a pleasure to read, even if the reader spends a long time wondering the reason these characters are important.

The science fiction elements of the story are well written and thought provoking. The future Istanbul that the author has concocted for this novel is fleshed-out, and the science fictional elements are presented realistically. New forms of technology are presented, yes, but the real-life implications of their implementation are just as important as their scientific justification, something many author fail to see, and in this sense the author does not disappoint. The Istanbul of "The Dervish House" feels feasible and real because the way the future affects Istanbul is specific to that city.

However, inspired though the science fiction may be, the most important part of this novel is the way it recalls the Istanbul of the past. Istanbul is an old city, and it pulses with ancient wisdom and culture. The author has dutifully (and marvelously) captured the essence of this city in his novel. The citizens of Istanbul don't just live there; they are deeply connected to its every nook and cranny. One of the characters states that she would evaporate outside of Istanbul, and this can be taken as the mantra of most of the characters in the book. They need Istanbul almost as much as Istanbul needs them. The city is alive, and the characters are alive for being there. They ache for Istanbul, and by the end of the book, the reader does to.

In fact, this feeling of yearning is so pervasive that at some points, the science fiction elements disappear altogether, or at least fade into the background. The author could remove them and still have a great, robust story to tell. This isn't to say that the sci-fi elements are bad (they're not), but this serves as a testament to the fact that the novel's setting, a character in and of itself, is well put together.

This book is highly recommended, even to people who normally don't read Science Fiction. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to start looking up flights to Turkey,,,

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