The Janissary Tree

  • by Jason Goodwin
  • Narrated by Stephen Hoye
  • 11 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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?

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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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Phillipa Somerville

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!
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- Andre

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-07-2007
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio