BOOK REVIEW: The Aviary Gate

Posted on September 5, 2009. Filed under: 1 |

the aviary gateThe Aviary Gate by Katie Hickman is a work of historical fiction to be savored, with certain passages being re-read to ensure complete understanding and total enjoyment. It is not an overwhelming ponderous tome, yet at the same time the character list, glossary, and map of the harem will be quite helpful to anyone not familiar with Constantinople in the year 1599.

The story begins with Paul Pindar, a secretary to the English ambassador. He believes that he has lost his true love, Celia in a shipwreck. Two years later he is informed that Celia has been spotted among the slaves in the Sultan’s harem. He needs to find a way to be sure. It is also a big question of this story of whether they can be re-united again. All this takes place concurrently with a rebellion in the Sultan’s palace.

I liked the fact that you had to play your cards very carefully as there were spies everywhere. The penalty for going against the Sultan’s rules is that you are sewn in a burlap sack and thrown in the Bosphorous River and shots are fired alerting the palace that a traitor has been dealt with. It felt as if I was skulking around the Sultan’s palace with Celia just waiting for a big greasy eunuch to clamp his hands on my shoulders. The descriptions of the palace, clothes and jewels also kept my attention.

What is the Aviary Gate? You’ll find out when you read the book, but it is key. The literary search taking place in Oxford and modern day Constantinople wraps the threads of this story in a cocoon of knowledge. So it is like a candy, knowledge on the outside and a delicious mix of love and intrigue on the inside. This is a book with a little bit of zest, and it stands up for itself as it defies your expectations. It almost dares you for a re-read. I would recommend this book for anyone who takes theirs with a bit of panache.


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