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!
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.
Mary D. (Claremont, CA)
The Drowning Guard
This book grabbed my attention right from the start, and held on to it! I was sorry when I was finished. There was plenty of history, Istanbul in 1826, a time period when Jews and Muslims actually got along and "had each other's backs" when defending against the Christians!! The characters were drawn exceptionally well, scenes and places were vivid and there were enough interesting twists and turns to keep me completely engaged. I read almost 2/3 of the book in the first sitting and only stopped because I had to go to bed! Truly a wonderful trip in a literary time-machine to a place of great beauty yet much violence and deception. I would actually give this a rating of 7-8 if possible!
Tracy B. (New Castle, DE)
The Drowning Guard
The Ottoman Empire is not a time that I have much knowledge of. Reading this brought me back to a trip to Istanbul 15 years ago. Topkapi Palace was one of the tourist stops brimming with opulence.
The description of how the Sultans were raised as children gives clues of what they become as adults. In this place where one must become a Muslim the majority of the slaves, soldiers, eunuchs and others who serve the Sultan's family were raised as Christians. Can a person truly rid themselves of their past?
What could Esma, a very early feminist and sister to the Sultan, and Ahmed the Drowning Guard have in common? By killing her Christian lovers is she as evil as the Sultan?
I was delighted by the authors weaving together of pride, history, love, religion, pain and respect that emerged into a story that will be with me for a long time.
L. Michaels (Boise, ID)
The Drowning Guard is a nice period piece about the Ottoman Empire after Islam became the governing religion. The writing created a world filled with the sights, sounds, smells one would expect to find in a region that is the crossroads of trade. I could definitely see what was coming, but enjoyed the journey. The women in the book were smart, strong, wily and beautiful. The men were backward womanizers and that made me both mad and sad. The premise of this story - a man forced to murder night after night for a Sultane begins to fight back in his own way and wins her. On the way, however, he wages another battle with her brother, the Sultan. The court intrigue and the usual bad eunuch/good eunuch combination was predictable. I enjoyed the short interludes back in time - they were necessary to round out the characters. This is a light read, but enjoyable. The grammar and spelling errors were distracting; however, the story carried the day.
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.
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.