Friday, March 3, 2017

One Bear's Opinion -- Book Review

Roll: 7
Monopoly Property: Mediterranean Avenue
Book: The Janissary Tree
Author: Jason Goodwin

This book was purchased during my Adventure in the City for National Bookstore Day 2013. I know my housemate had been considering the book for sometime then, but still it took us several years to actually read the book. Some people can read any book any time, but my housemate needs to be in the right frame of mind to read some books, and The Janissary Tree was one she needed to be ready to read.

I agree. This is not the kind of book you can read whenever or wherever. It was definitely a book that needed my full attention as a reader.

I enjoyed the story, but not so much he author’s style. It seemed that the author was trying to tell the story from the point of view of many, but not all, of the people involved in real time. The narrative would follow one character’s point of view for a while through some events, then begin again with a different character’s point of view and catch up with that character’s part of the tale. Throughout the book, there was much jumping back and forth in time, with no real indication that a jump had been made. That kind of jumping made it difficult to follow the story well, and made me as a reader wonder if I had gotten the whole story, with all the clues, or was I missing certain parts necessary to my ability to figure out the mystery alongside the investigator.

Another problem I had with the book was the use of foreign titles and words with no explanation. I realize the author knows what seraskier, ferrenghi, and effendi mean, but with no explanation to readers unfamiliar with the customs and language of the Ottoman court, it was difficult to know who the characters were. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the look inside the Ottoman court, a period and place in history I know very little about, but it would have been better if there had been a cast of characters and/or a glossary of foreign words provided for readers.

I enjoyed the book, but with certainly stylistic changes, I could have enjoyed it so very much more. I have read other books written from the point of view of several characters, but in those, the author either told the tale of each character to a particular point and then began again with another character until all the parts met at the denouement, or the author clearly indicated which character and when in time the tales were. If the story jumps from one character’s part to another, it is important to let the reader know in a clear fashion.

Overall, it was an interesting read, and I am interested enough to read more in the series, but these are books that definitely need your full attention as a reader to understand and enjoy.

One Bear’s Opinion: Three cups of Turkish Coffee with some Turkish Delight

Happy Reading Everyone,

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