There were six of us: the master, the apprentices and the white elephant. We built everything together...
Sixteenth century Istanbul: a stowaway arrives in the city bearing an extraordinary gift for the Sultan. The boy is utterly alone in a foreign land, with no worldly possessions to his name except Chota, a rare and valuable white elephant destined for the palace menagerie.
So begins an epic adventure that will see young Jahan rise from lowly origins to the highest ranks of the Sultan's court. Along the way he will meet deceitful courtiers and false friends, gypsies, animal tamers, and the beautiful, mischievous Princess Mihrimah. He will journey on Chota's back to the furthest corners of the Sultan's kingdom and back again. And one day he will catch the eye of the royal architect, Sinan, a chance encounter destined to change Jahan's fortunes forever.
©2014 Elif Shafak (P)2014 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
"This is Shafak's most ambitious novel yet, and it is her best ..." (The Independent)
"This edifying, emotionally forceful novel shows how hate and envy destroy, and how love might build the world anew ..." (The Guardian)
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"Spoiled by the narrator"
The book is not about a boy's rise from rags to riches as the book description says. I can only think whoever wrote that did not read the book.
The book is in effect a series of interlinked short stories. They are well written & entertaining.
What spoiled the book for me was the narrator. He has a good clear voice but his frequent mis pronounciation of many words became extremely irritating. The narrator is telling the story in an English accent but tends to use the American pronounciation of many words. Many other words he just pronounces wrongly. It really spoilt tje book for me
"for fans of the Arabian Nights"
I would recommend this to lovers of flowery language and pious aphorisms, and lots of patience. Many would say it is beautifully written At first I was fascinated by the setting, 16th century Istanbul of which I know nothing and found Eli Shafak's account enlightening. Despite the hero, Jehan's many narrow escapes, each came to seem like the one before.The plot moved too slowly for me and I couldn't empathise with any of the characters.
I found the narrator's voice and tone monotonous.
Probably. It would be very PC and look gorgeous. Probably best made in Bollywood
"Middle Eastern Mysticism"
A instructed book for lovers of Istanbul and the Middle east. This is not edge of your seat stuff but based on real events in history with amazing characterisation and context. Lots of linked short anecdotes so easy to put up and down.
You really root for Jahan, but some appreciation for Turkish culture and history or those who have visited Istabul will help you fall for Elif Shafak's style.
"A lyrical listen"
I liked this book for its pace (as well as its unusual story line!!), reminiscent of Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori, a leisurely and respectful listen. And I liked to accent and tone of voice of the reader...at a guess, softly South African...lent itself well to the subject and our hero being foreigner in Istambul. Highly recommended.
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