The Drowning Guard: Book summary and reviews of The Drowning Guard by Linda Lafferty

The Drowning Guard

A Novel of the Ottoman Empire

By Linda Lafferty

The Drowning Guard
  • Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Sep 2013,
    301 pages.

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Book Summary

Each morning in the hour before dawn, a silent boat launches on the Bosphorous, moving swiftly into the deepest part of the waters halfway between Europe and Asia, where a man will die …

The Drowning Guard is the tale of the Ottoman princess, Esma Sultan - one of the most powerful women in Ottoman history and unlike any other woman in the Islamic world. In a gender reversal of Scheherazade in 1001 Arabian Nights, Esma seduces a different Christian lover each night, only to have him drowned in the morning. The Sultaness's true passion burns only for the Christian-born soldier charged with carrying out the brutal nightly death sentence: her drowning guard, Ivan Postivich.

The Drowning Guard explores the riddle of Esma - who is at once a murderer and a champion and liberator of women - and the man who loves her in spite of her horrifying crimes. This textured historical novel, set in the opulence and squalor of Istanbul in 1826, is woven with the complexity and consequences of love.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Part intoxicating Scherazade story and part dazzling historical drama, The Drowning Guard features a Sultan's sister who's a compassionate killer set against a richly textured era that's as startlingly alive as it is brutal. Literary alchemist Lafferty has crafted a page turner so witty, smart and original, that the spell lingers long after the final pages." - Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You and Is This Tomorrow

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Beth
WOW
I loved this book.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Alice W. (Sacramento, CA)
The Drowining Guard
Well, this was not a favorite of mine. I love reading about the Ottoman Empire, the Janniseries (sp), Turkey, but somehow it didn't pull together. I found the writing weak. Even though the main character is not fictional, the plot seemed highly unlikely

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Shirin M. (Beverly Hills, CA)
The Drowning Guard
An interesting book about a culture and period that may not be well known to many. A character driven story with some explicit and violent descriptions that make for a difficult read at times.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Stephanie W. (Strongsville, OH)
The Drowning Guard
It took me a little while to get into this book. I wasn't sure if I was interested, but then suddenly, I couldn't put it down. I was completely drawn in to the characters and the beautiful descriptions of life in the Palaces of the Ottomans. I was intrigued to read of a time and place that I knew little about and I enjoyed the plot twists and the people. So glad I didn't give up on this wonderful book!

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Phyllis R. (Rochester Hills, MI)
Ottoman Empire and more
I read historical fiction to learn something and in reading "The Drowning Guard", I learned much about the Ottoman Empire which encompassed the modern states of Romania, Hungary, "Egypt, parts of Greece including Macedonia, Anatolia, Syria, Libya, Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Persia.
Although the main character is fictional, all the Sultans, and hierarchy of imperial society are historical. The role of women and the Satanic Verses are depicted, as well as, all the sights, sounds and smells of Constantinople and its Spice Bazaar.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Shelley C. (Eastport, NY)
A Real Gem
I have just completed, "The Drowning Guard", and could not wait to write this review. I have always appreciated Historical Novels, but this is a real gem! It is beautifully written with language that truly evokes the emotions of the characters as well as the feeling of the settings. I felt as if I was living in the palaces of the sultan and the sultaness. I could smell the cinnamon and jasmine of the hallways and rooms. I was able to picture the beautiful silks worn by the characters. Linda Lafferty breathed life into people who lived nearly two hundred years ago and I thank her for the opportunity to have been able to spend even this brief time in the world of her characters. I loved, loved, loved this book! I would definitely recommend it to my book club.

...14 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Linda Lafferty Author Biography

The daughter of a naval commander, Linda Lafferty attended fourteen different schools growing up, ultimately graduating from the University of Colorado with a master's degree and a PhD in education. Her peripatetic childhood nourished a lifelong love of travel, and she studied abroad in England, France, Mexico, and Spain. Her uncle introduced her to the sport of polo when she was just ten years old, and she enjoys playing to this day. She also competed on the Lancaster University Riding Team in England in stadium jumping, cross country, and dressage. A veteran school educator, she is the author of The Bloodletter's Daughter and The Drowning Guard. She lives in Colorado.

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