The Architect's Apprentice Summary and Reviews

The Architect's Apprentice

by Elif Shafak

The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak X
The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2015
    432 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

From the acclaimed author of The Bastard of Istanbul, a colorful, magical tale set during the height of the Ottoman Empire

In her latest novel, Turkey's preeminent female writer spins an epic tale spanning nearly a century in the life of the Ottoman Empire. In 1540, twelve-year-old Jahan arrives in Istanbul. As an animal tamer in the sultan's menagerie, he looks after the exceptionally smart elephant Chota and befriends (and falls for) the sultan's beautiful daughter, Princess Mihrimah. A palace education leads Jahan to Mimar Sinan, the empire's chief architect, who takes Jahan under his wing as they construct (with Chota's help) some of the most magnificent buildings in history. Yet even as they build Sinan's triumphant masterpieces - the incredible Suleymaniye and Selimiye mosques - dangerous undercurrents begin to emerge, with jealousy erupting among Sinan's four apprentices.

A memorable story of artistic freedom, creativity, and the clash between science and fundamentalism, Shafak's intricate novel brims with vibrant characters, intriguing adventure, and the lavish backdrop of the Ottoman court, where love and loyalty are no match for raw power.

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Media Reviews

"With manufactured intrigues and lukewarm romance, plot is not Shafak's strong point. What she offers is panoramic historical fiction rich with facts, atmosphere and occasional whimsy. " - Kirkus

"Shafak's ambitious and colorful novel loses momentum at times, but he skillfully uses the fictional elephant trainer to paint a vivid portrait of the great architect, Sinan, and the lives of both royals and commoners." - Publishers Weekly

"This edifying, emotionally forceful novel shows how hate and envy destroy, and how love might build the world anew." - The Observer (UK)

"Shafak's novel is a vigorous evocation of the Ottoman empire at the height of its power. . .a fascinating work in which building a fulfilling life can be as difficult as creating one of Sinan's masterpieces." - The Sunday Times (UK)

"At once epic and comic, fantastical and realistic ... a carefully crafted work of imagination that both reveals and conceals its skill. It will confirm Shafak's reputation as a writer of impressive range, who quietly resists categorization and is not afraid to ask the big questions." - Financial Times

"This is Shafak's most ambitious novel yet, and it is her best – told with a generous humanity that will surely realign attitudes both to the imaginative possibilities of fiction and to the constructed reality of the world around us." - The Independent (UK)

This information about The Architect's Apprentice shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Elif Shafak Author Biography

Photo: Ebru Bilun

Elif Shafak is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read female writer in Turkey. She is also a political commentator and an inspirational public speaker.

She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 15 books, 10 of which are novels, including the bestselling The Bastard of Istanbul and The Forty Rules of Love. Her books have been translated into 47 languages. She is published by Penguin in the UK and represented by Curtis Brown globally.

Shafak is a TED Global speaker, a member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy in Davos and a founding member of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations). She has been awarded the title of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2010 by the French government.

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