Customer Reviews for

The Sultan's Harem

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
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  • Posted January 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended

    I cannot put this book down. I do not want it to end for it will be hard to find another book which stirs my emotions like this one, yet, I need to know if these characters who suffer so much will be justified. If that is even possible after the unbelievable cruelty and suffering they have endured. Colin Falconer has outdone himself with this one. I recommend you read all of his books but this is by far the most intriguing and chilling.

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  • Posted November 28, 2010

    Slow Sweet Revenge

    Sultan's Harem / 978-0-307-23845-0 The Sultan's Harem is a spectacular tale of hatred and revenge, as Falconer weaves the tale of a single woman - a slave of the most powerful man in the world - who tears down a powerful empire by careful manipulation of the man who loves her. This one woman, Hurrem, manages to take down an entire empire, all while only ever being seen by a handful of men - the sultan and his personal eunuchs. While all this may seem completely cold-blooding, out heroine staunchly disagrees with the idea that she is a slave now, so why not make the best of it and be a good harem girl? She despises her sultan, the man who tore her from her home as just another bauble to add to his endless harem, the man whom she must keep amused lest she be tossed aside for another faceless girl waiting, claws ready, in the harem to overthrow her. Carefully, coldly, she designs to bear the sultan a child (not necessarily HIS child, if the situation requires), remove his previous favorite, entice him to fall in love, and then maneuver her freedom and unprecedented marriage to the emperor. No longer slave, but wife, she is still a slave in all but name, and she uses her mental hold on her husband to send him spiraling into madness while the kingdom collapses slowly around him. Falconer carefully treads the personal and the political here, as with all his novels, and we see sympathetic glimpses into both the main players (sultan and sultana) and into the lives of the hapless girls living silently in his lavish harem. Each girl has her own history, her own loss, and her own sadness, and - faced with the realities of the harem, and of the monogamous sultan - finds her own pastimes and petty jealousies. Are these women better off than the ones on the outside? They have little freedom, but they are safe and pampered. Since the sultan is not particularly voracious in his appetites, they are not even really 'sex' slaves. Yet the silence and loneliness gnaws at their souls and the passage of time weighs heavily on all involved. Is Hurrem, our dark heroine, really so unusual in her hate, cruelty, and madness? Perhaps all the other women in the harem feel as she does, but does not have the fortune to act out. Gripping and suspenseful, the Sultan's Harem is a compelling read - I could not put it down. I agree with another reviewer in that the story would make a wonderful movie, should anyone ever acquire the rights. Like other Falconer novels, the writing is frank and does not shy away from the 'facts' of life, but the writing is not overly lurid or vulgar, and he does not give into the temptation to throw in gratuitous sex scenes to try to increase readership. ~ Ana Mardoll

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2005

    Hurricane Hurrem And The Downfall Of An Empire

    A tale of a revered ruler and the woman who would ultimately destroy him, his sons, his allies and his dynasty. Author Colin Falconer effortlessly breathes colour and life into a tale of obsession built around a ruthless and fascinating woman ¿ Hurrem. Brought to the Sultan¿s Harem from her country of Ukraine, the Tartar red haired vixen was determined that she would not live the life of a slave in an empire she despises. When a terrified Jewish harem girl confides in Hurrem that she is pregnant, Hurrem seizes the opportunity to use this information against the Kapi Aga, who, fearing for his life, yields to Hurrem¿s threats and ensures that Hurrem shares the Sultan¿s bed. One night was all she needed for thereafter no one else existed before the Sultan. With the Sultan¿s firm and unbending fixation on her, Hurrem¿s power over him and the empire becomes catastrophic, as she succeeds in influencing him to destroy his loyal followers and those who sincerely loved their Sultan. Falconer leads us through the turbulent times behind the giant doors of the Sublime Porte during the Ottoman empire, and brings us face to face with names we have encountered in history, bringing to life honourable men such as Suleyman¿s Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pasha, Suleyman¿s honourable firstborn son, Mustafa and their tragic endings. The fictional side story of Venetian beauty Julia Gonzaga and Abbas adds a more mesmerising tune to this haunting depiction of 16th Century Turkey. Falconer¿s dark, caustic storytelling flair and elaboration of every morbid and particular detail cleverly recompenses for the wooden dialogue and repetitive, tiring descriptions of the exotic surroundings. Those interested in tales of vile, malicious and venomous women would shiver at Hurrem¿s touch. A revisionist historical fiction at its finest that will slip under your skin, invade your bloodstream and seize your heart.

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    Posted July 20, 2010

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