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The Janissary Tree, by Jason Goodwin


The Janissary Tree, by Jason Goodwin.It is 1836. Europe is modernizing and the Ottoman Empire must follow suit. But just before the sultan announces sweeping changes, a wave of murders threatens the fragile balance of power in his court. Who is behind them? Only one intelligence agent can be trusted to find out: Yashim, a man both brilliant and near-invisible in this world, an investigator who can walk with ease in the great halls of the empire, in its streets, and even within its harems--because, of course, Yashim is a eunuch. His investigation points to the Janissaries, who, for four hundred years were the empire's elite soldiers. Crushed by the sultan, could they now be staging a brutal comeback? And can they be stopped without throwing Istanbul into political chaos?

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  • Maria T.

    I really couldn't get into the book.

    January 14, 2013

  • Anne S.

    I had a mixed reaction to the book. I don’t know that having so much detail that I must consult outside references is necessarily a good thing in a mystery. I had to consult Wikipedia as my knowledge of the Ottoman Empire is pretty shaky, required to let me understand the story. That being said; the descriptions of the city and the people were fascinating. I thought that the author conveyed the sounds and atmosphere brilliantly and was reminded vividly of other old cities that I have visited. The minor characters were also interesting as parts of the city. Unfortunately, the main character development seemed vague, and the actual mysteries uninteresting, leaving me with minimal interest in the resolution of the story. Yashim, the detective seemed to lack motivation and arrive at solutions more by luck than careful observation. The dividing of the book into many small chapters also made the story harder to follow. In short, it was a lovely travel guide to a now vanished empire.

    January 11, 2013

  • Lorraine F

    Slow starting but really got into it towards the end

    January 11, 2013

  • Barbara M.

    found out too late! not able to go.

    January 9, 2013

  • John

    The finest chapter describes an activity that is now mundane and prosaic: a bath. Yet Yashim derived ssuch great pleasure from a visit to the hammam (public bath). Would one have had to live in Istanbul 200 years ago for such pleasure? No!! New York has a long history of public baths. Follow this link for that history:

    December 23, 2012

    • Anne S.

      That is amazing. I really thought that these were in the distant past (except for the ones that were the subject of scandal)

      January 6, 2013

  • toni l.

    What is the next book?

    January 2, 2013

    • Anne S.

      It will be the Lincoln Lawyer. Will post later when I have real computer

      January 3, 2013

  • Judith M.

    I'm about half-way through the Janissary Tree. It's great fun, with a tremendous sense of place and time.

    December 13, 2012

8 went

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