The Janissary Tree

March 17, 2007 at 2:38 pm 1 comment

Hi folks!

Just a short post today.  I am reading the Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin and I am finding it to be very good.  I have set a short goal for myself.  Every year they have the Edgar Allen Poe awards for the best mystery novel.  This year, six novels have been nominated and I am slowly working my way through the list.  The others I have read were the Dead Hour by Denise Mina, Gentlemen and Player by Joanne Harris and the Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard.  I have two and a half to go!  I am looking forward to discovering who this year’s winner will be!

I would love to describe the Janissary Tree and I hope to be able to tell you a little bit about it without confusing you.  The novel is set in 1820 in Instanbul during the Ottoman empire.  Apparently there were a group of soldiers called Janissaries and they helped protect Turkey but eventually they came into too much power and the Sultan had to wipe them out. They had adopted a large tree in Istanbul to be their symbol, but during the siege many of the Janissaries were hung from the tree or left underneath it.

The book centers around an investigator name Yashim.  Yashim is a eunuch and it seems that during that time period there were many of them roaming around.  Eunuchs were the only men allowed in the palace to talk to the harem, men and women were not allowed to interact at all.  There were also these male eunuch dancers that dressed like women and catered to the men that they danced for. 

Yashim is called in to work for the sultan.  It seems a young wife of the sultan was strangled and some jewelry was taken. Because he is a eunuch, he is able to go into the palace to investigate.   Another problem has cropped up and four officers of the army have gone missing and have begun to turn up dead.  Throughout the investigation he begins to find a connection to the Janissaries and that is the tie in to the title of the book.

I am really enjoying the novel.  I know nothing about that period in history and I get a little bit confused when they begin to talk about the state of Poland and Russia at that time (which also might have something to do with the plot)  but the novel moves seamlessly and is engaging enough that I want to spend time with it to discover the who in the whodunnit! I really do like a novel to teach me something and I think this novel is able to do so. The author, Goodwin, has also written non fiction works on the subject so it seems he is really knowledgeable about the period.  So fascinating.

So if you are looking for something good to read that you can really get into and spend a little more time with, try the Janissary Tree.   And let me know what you think!


Entry filed under: books.

Hooked on a Feeling Alice Faye

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Dr. Sparky  |  March 18, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    YES! Please keep up the book reports. You have yet to steer me wrong on a good book.


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