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
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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About this book

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

The information about The Drowning Guard shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. 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 of this book 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.

Reader Reviews

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Beth

WOW
I loved this book.

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)

Period Piece
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.

...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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