Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Drowning Guard-Linda Lafferty

The Drowning Guard

Linda Lafferty

Amazon Publishing, Sep 3 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9781477805299

In 1826 in Constantinople, Ahmed Kadir serves as a Janissary guard to Esma, the favorite sister of Sultan Mahmud II. He hates not being with his cavalry unit but obeys the Sultan who removed him from the battlefield to insure Ahmad received no more accolades. A devout Muslim, the soldier knows Allah condemns what Ahmed loathingly performs every evening for Esma. Nightly the Sultaness takes a Christian lover; after she is finished, Ahmed strangles her latest discard before tossing their corpse into the Bosporus.

When Esma becomes ill, the royal physician cannot help her. She envisions all those she had murdered and smells their rotted corpses. Realizing his patient is filled with horrific remorse, the royal physician suggests she tell someone what emotionally disturbs her as confession is good for the soul. Sultaness Esma knows two people besides herself are aware of her deadly secret, the oarsman and the Janissary killer who does her lethal bidding; wanting no one else to learn of her depravity and following the physician’s advice, every night Esma tells Ahmed tales of her wicked life.

With a gender reversing nod to A Thousand and One Arabian Nights, The Drowning Guard is an engaging look at the Ottoman Empire through mostly the eyes of the affluent amoral Sultaness; a real eighteenth-nineteenth century person. The storyline is filled with historical insight into the year the Janissary slaughter occurred as the empire begins the crumbling that eventually culminated after WWI. Readers who ignore the improbability of Ahmed, with insider information from Esma, surviving the wrath of the Sultan who killed and caged family members, will appreciate this vivid historical.

Harriet Klausner

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