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Extended Audio Sample The Janissary Tree: A Novel Audiobook, by Jason Goodwin Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,963 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jason Goodwin Narrator: Stephen Hoye Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2007 ISBN: 9781400175048
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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? Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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
  • “Goodwin, the author of a well-received history of the Ottoman Empire, Lords of the Horizons, makes a welcome shift to fiction with this impressive first of a new mystery series set in the empire’s declining decades.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “As Yashim wends his way in and out of the opulent palace and through the sordid back alleys of nineteenth-century Istanbul, the reader is treated to an appropriately exotic tour of a time and a place where intrigue, deceit, and corruption fueled perilous personal and political passions.”

    Booklist

  • “An unusual, exotic historical mystery that reads like literature and moves like a thriller.”

    George Pelecanos, author of Drama City

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vivienne | 2/19/2014

    " Really enjoyed this unusual mystery set in Istanbul in the 1830s. Looking forward to further in this series as the characters were so engaging. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian Maicke | 2/11/2014

    " A nice historical fiction/mystery about the Ottoman Empire in the 1830's. The pacing was relatively fast without skipping richness of description. The overall story worked very well, especially for a first novel. I look forward to seeing how the main character, a eunuch named Yashim, develops over the course of the series. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 2/11/2014

    " Great setting (Ottoman Empire) and memorable characters (A eunuch, an ambassador without a country, a cross-dressing dancer to name a few)...This is a quick and enjoyable read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Herschel | 1/16/2014

    " This novel is a decent mystery, but the best part about it is the way that the author describes the likely culture and inner workings of the Ottomon court in the late 19th Century. Ottoman society was a complex and rich mixture quite unlike anything we have had in the U.S., and I appreciate the author's effort to give it some real texture. As a result, I have decided to read a history of the Crimean War, and important precursor to the collapse of the Empire. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris | 1/13/2014

    " Entertaining mystery set in 19th century Istanbul "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 H.N. | 1/11/2014

    " A terrific and intriguing setting, but the mystery was rather disappointing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sam Soule | 12/30/2013

    " This won a Gold Dagger? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Allen D. | 12/13/2013

    " I am a sucker for historical mysteries, so I really enjoyed this look at 19th century Istanbul. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gayle | 11/28/2013

    " Not my usual time period for what I tend to read, but a good book. Very interesting characters! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jared | 11/26/2013

    " The Janissary Tree purports to be a mystery but in this novel the mystery does not appear to ever get solved. It is an interesting commentary on a segment of the Ottoman Empire, so if one knew nothing about it, after reading this book one would know a few new things. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Deborah | 11/18/2013

    " Really fun subject matter: eunuch detective in 1830s Istanbul! But NOT very well written. More interesting for the details of the sultan's court and Istanbul life than as an aesthetic experience... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chiranjeev Dash | 8/14/2013

    " Well-written historical mystery. More history, less mystery though. lovedthe characters. and the descriptions of food. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Anurasika | 4/30/2013

    " I should have known a book that joz_pierce kept nattering about would be this stupid. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sally | 4/2/2013

    " Ottoman. Rec. by Mary M. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angela | 1/4/2013

    " A mystery led by an eunuch thru the Ottoman Empire in the 1830's. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lauren | 12/25/2012

    " Liked the setting, couldn't get into the story or characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nick | 9/7/2012

    " An entertaining literary drama with enough historical accuracy to satisfy the purist. Extraordinarily well written. Great characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Adri Nurellari | 7/23/2012

    " The plot was quite interesting but I am not particularly impressed with the historical bits. For instance the Janissaries were Bektashis, there is no such thing as Karagoz sect. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marc A. | 7/2/2012

    " Recommended by my mother-in-law (great knowledge and judgement regarding literature in general and mysteries in particular). Terrific late-Ottoman Empire Istambul setting including the revolt of the Jannisaries- a great fun read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 1/25/2012

    " Well-deserving of its Edgar nomination - clever use of vernacular dialogue and a drum-tight plot makes this a historical winner. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Peggy | 12/17/2011

    " Istanbul in the 1850's. Just enough exotic details, history, and food to keep my interest. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Arian | 10/2/2011

    " really really good. Kind of like a Poirot mystery in the Ottoman Empire. Except the main investigator has no testicles (he's a eunich). Well-written and a good entertaining dip into turkish history and culture. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Helen | 5/13/2011

    " I thought I would love this but found it oh so hard to get into. maybe you need more Ottoman history before starting? Interesting nevertheless . "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate | 5/9/2011

    " A very evocative portrait of Istanbul in the 1830's. The author's writing is very lush and vivid, especially of place and food. An easy dollop of history goes down as well. The mystery...well, let's say it's secondary. I would not call this a great "mystery" series. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathleen | 5/3/2011

    " Finally got to read the first in this series dealing with the problem solving eunuch, Yashim, in the Ottoman Empire in the 1820s. Enjoyed it just as much, if not more than the others I've read in the series and convinced me to try the author's history of the Ottomans. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sally | 4/28/2011

    " I finished this one this morning, and, it was quite satisfying...I loved the descriptions of Istanbul, and the detective character, Yahsim, is a unique one. He also has unique friends (and enemies).I am looking forward to the next ones in the series. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris | 4/27/2011

    " Entertaining mystery set in 19th century Istanbul "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sandra | 4/22/2011

    " This one beat me. I'll confess right now, when I can't get into a book I'll give up quickly. There is just too much out there for me to fight through a book I cannot sympathize with. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bridget | 3/24/2011

    " The setting,not the "mystery" make this story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tara | 3/11/2011

    " I found this one difficult to read, mostly because I'm unfamiliar with the history and geography of the setting. However, the mystery plot was very entertaining. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hannah | 3/7/2011

    " We read this for The Dean's Book Club at Russell Sage College. Interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nina | 3/7/2011

    " Wonderful mystery set in nineteenth century Istanbul. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anselm | 2/28/2011

    " liked it a lot - really transports the reader to constantinople of the past. "

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About the Author
Author Jason Goodwin

Jason Goodwin is the author of Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire, A Time for Tea: Through China and India in Search of Tea, and On Foot to the Golden Horn, among others. He lives in Sussex, England, with his wife and four children.

About the Narrator

Stephen Hoye has worked as a professional actor in London and Los Angeles for more than thirty years. Trained at Boston University and the Guildhall in London, he has acted in television series and six feature films and has appeared in London’s West End.