THE REIGN OF THE FAVORED WOMEN TRILOGY
This is the trilogy that found such favor in Turkey, sixteenth-century Ottoman historical fiction. Heart-felt thanks to all my Turkish fans and friends.
Praise for Sofia
Sofia won both Affaire de Coeur's
"Best Foreign Historical" and "Best Cover" Awards
"This is a brilliant novel. Ann Chamberlin is the master of crafting exciting realistic historical fiction. Sofia brings alive sixteenth century Italy and Turkey through the eyes of its fabulous lead protagonists. The clever portrayal of harem life adds a touch of historical Middle Eastern ethnicity, thereby allowing the reader to see the world through another culture. "
-- Affaire de Coeur (Five Stars)
"A fascinating tale." -- Library Journal
"Enthralling. . . . A vivid and lush brand of historical fiction." -- Booklist
More Praise for Sofia
"Blends absorbing historical detail with a lively, romantic plot about two Italian teenagers sold into slavery in the Ottoman Empire. . . But it's the fascinating descriptions of Islamic culture, including Giorgio's painful transformation into a slave, that makes this story compelling." -- Publishers Weekly
"A stunning story that sweeps you along. . . the reader soaks up details of a life of which neither character nor reader has ever dreamed. A brilliant evocation of a strange and fascinating world with dynamic and believable characters. This is a book that will live in your memory."
-- David Nevin, author of 1812
"This unblinking plunge into a sixteenth-century harem enthralls with its lyrical prose and mesmerizes with its depiction of the young man who pays the ultimate price for innocent passion. The era in Sofia comes brilliantly alive. Chamberlin is a master storyteller."
-- Kathleen Dougherty, author of Moth to the Flame and Double Vision
"Magnificent! Sofia is a breathtaking story of love, betrayal and heartache, with captivating characters, set in a fascinating and exotic time period only Ann Chamberlin could so skillfully bring to life."
-- Charlene Raddon, author of Forever Mine
"Sofia is a fascinating story, beautifully told. It captures the imagination and holds it firmly in hand from page one to the finish. Ann Chamberlin succeeds in blending passion and humor, joy and pathos, to produce a Turkish delight of a tale."
-- Kate Cameron, author of The Legend Makers
An Excerpt from Sofia:
Of all the days in my long life, I remember the day I met Governor Baffo's daughter more than any other.
I, Giorgo Veniero, had climbed a convent wall.
This was no youthful carnival prank, though it was both the year's season and mine. I'd been told I must do it. I must climb the convert wall to deliver a message. The message was unusual not because of what I must say--which was what the Doge of Venice would say to any young lady under the circumstances--but because of the lady herself. His Serenity's secretary had decided to humor this lady's own singular demands of secrecy.
My blossoming sense of romance and adventure had tingled to life from the first suggestion: I'd jumped at the chance.
I'd never seen a convent garden before, of course; I was no priest. I guess I'd envisioned it in the hull-spliting life of spring. But the naked branches of the plane trees--like hoary, shedding antlers--provided very little cover apart from their woolly winter tassels. Nor did the air--hard, cold and clear as a diamond.
It was the bare-bone structure of a garden, odorous of moist loam and worms working. The beds were damp but barren, turned over for the season, and against anything but the sky I must stand out like a sapphire on sack cloth. Afraid this would happen, I'd climbed high in the tree. But I was going to be very dependant on the lady's skills of subterfuge, a position of helplessness I didn't care for.
And my fingers were beginning to grow numb and clumsy with the chill.
Praise for The Sultan's Daughter
The Sultan's Daughter won both Affaire de Coeur's "Best Foreign Historical" and "Best Cover" Awards
"Historical fiction at its greatest level. The Sultan's Daughter is so colorful and real, readers can not only see sixteenth century Turkey, but smell the aromas (pleasant and ugly) of a different society. Ms. Chamberlin is one of the best writers today as she combines teaching her readers with an amazingly entertaining and interesting tale of intrigue. This reviewer strongly recommends this novel and its predecessor because both books are among the best historical fiction written in the ninties."
-- Harriet Klausner for Midwest Book Review
"The world of the harem, with all its power struggles, comes alive. . . rich historical detail."
-- Publishers Weekly
An Excerpt from The Sultan's Daughter:
In the selamlik, I hunted for the fine Chinese vase in its usual place in the wall niche, but it wasn't there. I was about to call for Ali to ask where it might be when I saw it already out--placed curiously on the top of a low wooden chest. There were flowers in it, too, and they seemed very fresh. They couldn't have been cut any earlier than that very morning. And it was a very curious bouquet altogether, not unattractive or slovenly, but very masculine. It consisted of only one flower--an ox-eye daisy--which was flanked on one side by a leaf of a plane tree, and on the other by a spring of cypress
"Now I see," I thought. "My mistress has taken pity on our guest's poor hand at arranging flowers, and thought it only polite to send him others."
But that thought hardly lived to take a breath before I knew it would not do, and condemned it, like some preIslamic father his unwanted girl-child, to the dust. In its place came, for no apparent reason, the lines of the Persian poet , so popular in the Turkish harems:
I cried so much that I heard
moaning and wailing from the cypresses.
They confided in me and said,
'O that your heart could find peace with us,
For your beloved was flourishing, and so are we.
She was tall, and we are a hundred times taller.'
Often since I'd first heard that poem recited, I had listened for "moaning and wailing from the cypresses" as a wind passed, and often thought, like the poet, of my love who was tall and fair, but now no more. And, like the poet, I had sadly whispered back to the trees:
But what use are you to me
When it comes to kisses?
So it was not strange that now, as I reached out to remove the cypress sprig from the vase, that the lines should come to me again. What was strange was that I should also remember that the cypress, because it never loses its leaves like other trees, was often used by poets as a symbol of eternity.
Plane leaves and ox-eyes also their set meanings in the intricate melodies of romantic verse: the first, because it resembles a hand, means touch or holding, and the flower is an emblem for the beloved's face.
Now I suddenly saw clearly that there was no coincidence here at all. The odd assortment of plants had been chosen and arranged with exquisite care and the message read: plane leaf, ox-eye, cypress, "I will hold the image of my beloved's face in my hand forever."
Praise for The Reign of the Favored Women
"Exotic. . . . in addition to capturing and effectively communicating the extraordinay opulence and the devious intrigue of the Turkish royal court, Chamberlin does a marvelous job of delineating a believable female character, working within the constraints of her time and place to achieve astounding goals and ambitions. Lush historical fiction." -- Booklist
"The reader is drawn into a world of Machiavellian intrigue where the struggle for power among the women of the seraglio influences the politics of both the East and the West." -- Library Journal
"A complex historical tale of two formidable women. . . . elaborate, lush historical fiction."
-- Publishers Weekly
An Excerpt from The Reign of the Favored Women:
Andrea considered his options. He would go and plead peace before the Divan with such power and logic that Sofia would throw all foolish Turkish convention aside and pull back the curtain of the Eye of the Sultan. For, of course, she would be there and, no less than the viziers, be won by his speech. She would leap from there into his waiting arms. . .
After that, what should happen was not so clear. Yes, there was the problem of the room and a courtyard outside filled with janissaries. But somehow that seemed a negligible factor, once he had her in his arms.
Then there was the scenario in which he stormed the palace walls almost single-handedly, killed the mad old Sultan and then penetrated the forbidden holy of holies. There she (he would almost write it She--divine) would be lying in sorrow and languor on a crimson couch, her golden hair like fire in luscious disarray. She would reach long, white arms out to him, her liberator, her deliverer, her true love. Again, he need not dream further than this point.
Andrea blew on his hands to keep them flexible. They must be able to curl firmly around the hilt of his dagger.
More elegant settings still stoked the fire of his brain, but practicality had whittled it down to this: an alley beside the little neighborhood mosque-converted-from-a-church a stone's throw from the palace of the Grand Vizier. If he shifted just right, Andrea could catch a glimpse of Sofia's sedan through the wrought-iron gates.
A sharp wind scudded straight off the Black Sea to attack his fingers and toes. It put out the moon as easily as one of his bravos had put out the light at the end of the alley just after the lamplighter had passed. Now the only illumination came through the heavy curtains drawn over the second-story lattices of the closest homes.
The call to evening prayers directly over his head brought a small congregation to the mosque. Andrea found the men who filed past his hiding place slightly unnerving, being predominantly janissaries from the exercise field. Each man carried his own rug under his arm like an open display of his soul. Andrea felt a strong urge to join them, if only for the better concealment of his own soul, one among many. But public devotion would soon make way for the privacy of tents and hearthstones.
Already the domestic miracle of fresh-baked bread served with cabbage and earthy chickpeas seeped its scent along with a warm, greasy light through the lattice stars and the curtains overhead.