The Janissary Tree: A Novel Audiobook | Jason Goodwin | Audible.com
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The Janissary Tree: A Novel | [Jason Goodwin]

The Janissary Tree: A Novel

It is 1836. Europe is modernizing, and the Ottoman Empire must follow suit. But just before the sultan announces sweeping changes, a wave of murders threatens the balance of power in his court. Who is behind them? Only one intelligence agent can be trusted to find out: Yashim Togalu, a man both brilliant and near-invisible in this world. You see, Yashim is a eunuch.
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Publisher's Summary

The Janissary Tree, the first book in a new series, is set in a most extraordinary world and features a most extraordinary sleuth.

It is 1836. Europe is modernizing, and the Ottoman Empire must follow suit. But just before the sultan announces sweeping changes, a wave of murders threatens the fragile balance of power in his court. Who is behind them? Only one intelligence agent can be trusted to find out: Yashim Togalu, a man both brilliant and near-invisible in this world.

You see, Yashim is a eunuch.

He leads us into the palace's luxurious seraglios and Istanbul's teeming streets, and leans on the wisdom of a dyspeptic Polish ambassador, a transsexual dancer, and a Creole-born queen mother. He finds sweet salvation in the arms of another man's wife. (This is not your everyday eunuch.) And he introduces us to the Janissaries. For, 400 years earlier, the sultan had them crushed. Are the Janissaries staging a brutal comeback?

©2007 Jason Goodwin; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Edgar Award, Best Novel, 2007

"A work of dazzling beauty....The rare coming together of historical scholarship and curiosity about distant places with luminous writing." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (159 )
5 star
 (42)
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4.0 (64 )
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Story
3.9 (64 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Judith A. Weller LaVale, MD United States 03-26-09
    Judith A. Weller LaVale, MD United States 03-26-09 Member Since 2008

    jw1917

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Real Page Turner"

    This was one of the most riveting historical mysteries I have listened to in a long time. The wealth of detail about the Ottoman Empire and life in Istambul really makes this book come alive. I love historical mysteries that really make you live in the period and this is one of them. The detail is marvelous and adds to the depth of the book. While at first I didn't much care for the narrator, the more I listened the more I felt he was just right for the book and his ability to vocally differentiate the various characters in the book is really marvellous. Highly recommended.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andre Ithaca, NY, United States 03-18-08
    Andre Ithaca, NY, United States 03-18-08 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Turkish History"

    This is a fascinating book in several respects. The plot of the mystery (with Yashim the Eunuch as detective) is convoluted and clever. The descriptions of Istanbul in the early 1800's, with the Ottoman Empire contracting, are really enthralling. But for me, the really special component was a vivid recounting of the history of Constantinople being over-run by the Turks, led by their Janissaries; and the way in which the Sultan's entourage was run. It is a highly worthwhile novel!

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    09-23-07
    09-23-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    5
    1
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    "Great great new series"

    I found the stuff of the story to be one of those lovely mixes of history, great characters and mystery. Rather than getting in the way, I found the narrator's treatment of the story to add to the dark, misty, exotic elements within the story. I'm waiting for the next story in the series .....

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phillipa Somerville Los Angeles, CA USA 09-18-07
    Phillipa Somerville Los Angeles, CA USA 09-18-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting premise, annoying narrator"

    As a lifeling voracious reader, I am fairly new to audiobooks. The narration is a new element for me, and adds a whole new dimension to the experience. A great fit, such as the novels by Chris Knopf combined with the downright perfect narration by Stefan Rudnicki, makes for an unforgettable experience. But, when the narration is annoying, it can render the book unlistenable.
    Stephen Hoye reads almost every line in the Janissary Tree with the same cadence. Every line ends with downward note. DA-DA, DA-DA, DA-DAaaaa. DA-DA, DA-DA, DA-DAaaaa. I find myself distracted, trying to imagine at least five different ways the line could be said, other than Hoye's falling tone. It's my fault--I should have listened to the sample. (Note: I just listened to the sample, which does not give an indication of how limited this narrator is. I would have still selected the book, based on the sample. Sigh.) As the book seems fascinating, I will read it the old-fashioned way--in print.

    19 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Kaneohe, HI, USA 02-22-08
    Patricia Kaneohe, HI, USA 02-22-08 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too subtle for audio"

    This book has been highly praised and would likely be a good read, but it is way too subtle for casual listening. I repeated sections throughout, probably the entire book, trying to follow the plot line and story. This is one of those books that is better read than heard - an anomaly in my experience.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    IMNSHO Upstate NY United States 08-06-12
    IMNSHO Upstate NY United States 08-06-12 Member Since 2010

    Diane

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Good Read"
    If you could sum up The Janissary Tree in three words, what would they be?

    Plot, characterization and setting expertly written. Solid historical fiction.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Plot line was compelling. I was bothered by the descriptions of the macabre homicides, which is why I give it a "4", not a "5".


    What about Stephen Hoye???s performance did you like?

    Easy to listen to.


    Any additional comments?

    Stephen Hoye's Polish accent sounded too much like a Yiddush accent!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Laurel, United States Minor Outlying Islands 12-23-09
    Susan Laurel, United States Minor Outlying Islands 12-23-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Complicated"

    One must listen hard to this story to keep the characters and storyline straight. In the end, only the historical aspects seem worth the trouble.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 03-27-14
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 03-27-14 Member Since 2010

    Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Performance
    Story
    "Muddled But Engaging"

    First off, the 19th century setting of a detective mystery in the harem of the Sultan of the fading Ottoman Empire is wonderfully intriguing. Goodwin carries it off making this a memorable read. But… but… there's something about this whole thing that like hearing a symphony on a 78 RPM recording… It's Lo-Fi. Nope, don't mean the actual Audible recording, I mean the writing. It's as if you can get the melody, but hardly any of the nuance. Can't explain it exactly, and it's not the fault of Stephen Hoye who reads the thing OK. The characters are only interesting as oddities, not as people.

    But while I'd recommend The Janisary Tree as a diversion, a trip to an exotic place (or maybe a carney freak show) and time seen through the eyes of a particularly exotic detective… Well its the setting of the story that make for the interest, not the mystery. It's muddled but well, engaging.

    As they say, when the critics begin reviewing the set… the play's in trouble. Here it's the set that stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julia Flemington, NJ, United States 04-02-13
    Julia Flemington, NJ, United States 04-02-13 Member Since 2012

    I love audioboks!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mysterious story!"
    If you could sum up The Janissary Tree in three words, what would they be?

    mysterious, exotic, adventurous


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Yes at moments it did. I did not suspect the character that ended up being the nemesis.


    Which character – as performed by Stephen Hoye – was your favorite?

    The Eunuch


    Any additional comments?

    Good mystery story, I love the historical aspect the most. Istanbul was brought to life for me. I especially appreciate the food descriptions. The story was good, a little unrealistic/fanciful but surprising and not too scary. Very suspenseful at moments!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victoria NEW ORLEANS, LA, United States 09-25-12
    Victoria NEW ORLEANS, LA, United States 09-25-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Narrator Ruined Story"

    Had read a book by the author and liked it very much but could not finish listening to this because of the narration. Will be careful to not buy anything else by this narrator. The voice is melodramatic and at times insipid; all in all, very annoying, ruining a good historical fiction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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