Rose N. (Saginaw, MI)
The Drowning Guard
"The Drowning Guard" reads like a fairy tale for adults. However, as amazing as it seems, Linda Lafferty has written a somewhat historical depiction of the Ottoman Empire of the mid-nineteenth century with all its cruelty and opulence. Sultan Mahmud and his half-sister, Esma Sultan, are strong Ottoman rulers, living in the Topkapi Palace in Constantinople, replete with their slaves, harems and eunuchs. In plain and simple writing, "The Drowning Guard" gives the reader an almost unbelieveable, but very human, picture of the Ottoman civilization in a defined time and place.
Freya H. (Phoenix, AZ)
The Drowning Guard
I enjoyed this book although it was a stretch for me to even request it. The Ottoman Empire is not of particular interest to me, although this book may have ignited a spark. I felt there was just the right amount of actual history to draw the reader in, the characters were strong, and the plot was interesting. If the reader has an aversion to some particularly cruel acts, however, it may not be the book for you.
Colleen T. (Lakewood, CO)
[Editor's Note - review contains potential plot spoiler]
I just finished reading "The Drowning Guard" by Linda Lafferty and was captivated and awed by the story line and the characters. I loved that the story line somewhat followed the idea of Scheherazade telling nightly tales as from "The Arabian Nights: Tales from a 1,001 Nights" without going overboard with the idea, for me it was just right. I also found the writing and the character development superb, Lafferty has a wonderful way of getting to the "meat" of a character in a brief amount of time. Despite all of this, I gave the book four stars as I found that the ending, for me, was a bit too sweet and cutesy, considering the more striking brutality that takes place earlier in the novel's story. It just didn't seem to "fit".
Martha L. (Warner, NH)
complexity of passion and hatred
The Drowning Guard by Linda Lafferty is a fascinating book. I love how the characters are so complex and completely human. I love the story with all its ups and downs. It sucked you into the world of Constantinople.
I asked for the book, because of my curiosity over the title and the blurb. (Every night a guard drowned the lover of the Sultaness – the Sultan's sister.) I knew the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire were absolute tyrants with power over everyone, but I didn't expect it to be so overwhelming. The cruelty of life for many among the opulence of few is highlighted so clearly in the story.
However, that is not the whole story. A large part of the story is the power struggle between the Sultan (brother) and Sultaness (sister). The Sultaness is the beneficiary of her brother's (the Sultan) largess and his cruelty. The Sultan feels that his sister obstructs and defies him. The Sultaness is a strong woman who fights for the rights of woman and hides them in her harem from her brother.
However, that is not really the story. The story is much more complex. The story is about passion that of treachery, falseness, love, and hatred. The story is ripe with uncontrolled emotions of many of the characters, while balancing on the edge of treason. Ivan Postivich is the drowning guard. Esma is the Sultaness. Together they fall in love, both knowing that it is a death knell for Ivan.
This is a fascinating book. Lovers of history and/or romance will enjoy the story. Lovers of strong characters and intricate plots will enjoy the story. I look forward to reading more by Linda Lafferty.
Cynthia A. (Grand Rapids, MI)
Not worth the read
I did not enjoy this book. While reading the first part of the book, I kept waiting for something to happen. The book would go backwards to past history. I did not like the way the characters called each other, swine, dog, fool, infidel, scoundrel, dung beetle, etc. There was too much description in the book.
Then when I got to the end of the book and it said that there really is no proof of drowning guards, I thought, "Why did I even read this?"
I did like the quality of the paper the book was printed on and wish more books were on this type of paper.