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The Aviary Gate

by Katie Hickman

Series: The Aviary Gate (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4405046,760 (3.3)66
In turn-of-the-seventeenth-century Constantinople, merchant Paul Pindar, secretary to the English ambassador, brings a precious gift to the sultan and learns that a woman he once loved may be hidden among the ranks of the sultan's concubines.
  1. 00
    Tears of Pearl by Tasha Alexander (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Both stories focus on the intrigues and struggles for power in the harem of the Topkapi Palace. The Aviary Gate is a more literary historical novel set during England's Elizabethan era. Tears of Pearl is a historical mystery featuring a Victorian era couple as sleuths.… (more)
  2. 00
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (elbakerone)
  3. 00
    Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott (elbakerone)
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» See also 66 mentions

English (49)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (52)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Un bellissimo libro, che si divide tra due realtà diversissime tra di loro.. Mi ha commosso e il finale mi ha incuriosito, quindi mi sembra inutile dire che spero di leggere presto il libro successivo :) ( )
  XSassyPants | Jun 11, 2022 |
Started this a while ago, but I am slogging along so far, not even half way through. Don't know why this story is not grabbling me even though it is an intriguing setting--which was the basic reason I picked it up from the book fair. Never fond of flashbacks, all that jumping back and forth. If you have a story just tell it straight off. Perhaps that along with the plot development which is way too slow is the reason I find it boring. Anyway will pursue it a bit more before I decide keep or toss (figuratively). Pursued a bit more and then just skipped to the end. ( )
  amaraki | Dec 11, 2021 |
I have to admit that I wasn't able to finish this book. I'll not add a book to my shelf in the future unless I'm far enough along to know I'm really going to finish it. I often pick up a variety of books at the library that sounds like my cup of tea and then start on several to see which ones grab my interest. This one ended up losing the competition with a couple of others. Doesn't mean others by this author won't grab me in the future. Just didn't get through this one.
  jjpseattle | Aug 2, 2020 |
Good writing and interesting characters. I liked the peek into a setting I am unfamiliar with, but I thought the finish was a little too open-ended for me. ( )
  SMBrick | Feb 25, 2018 |
For this challenge, I chose The Aviary Gate, by Katie Hickman, from my pile of TBRs. From the cover copy I assumed it was historical romance, which is a genre new to me, and so I expected to read a steamy bodice-ripper of some sort. I’m perfectly aware, mind you, that romance has progressed beyond the bodice-ripper, but all the same, I was expecting a 6-packed, studly hero, a feisty but pure heroine, and the hijinks that keep the couple apart, and the sexual tension that comes from that.

Well, yes and no. I found it was more of a historical intrigue, the tale of an English girl sold into the Sultan’s harem in 16th century Istanbul contrasted with the story of a modern-day Oxford Ph.D. getting over a bad romance with a teacher. The modern gal is researching the slave girl’s story, which acts as a framing device. The author is English and the writing was a lot different from the American style I’m used to. To begin with, it’s in third person omniscient, which is not used much, at least for romances, on this side of the Atlantic, though I’m used to it in the fantasy genre from writers like Neil Gaimon and Tanith Lee. I found it more scholarly yet less disciplined, and emotionally colder… which was oddly more visceral because it was less in your face than the American style. A few frothy elements of romance were there, mainly to do with longing, and I enjoyed them even though I’m not a fan of the genre. There was perhaps too much forced exposition through the characters’ dialogue, but that may be par for the course for this kind of book. I couldn’t help feel it needed a better edit, though.

The author did have a way with words, and her quirky use of language kept me well entertained. Certain parts of the story were pleasingly squicky, like the slave girl being prepared for the sultan’s bed, which entails a painful depilitation, perfume inserted in private places, and even sitting naked on a block of ice. These were finely balanced between erotica and horror. The descriptions of the black eunuchs were horrifying too. It was hard to discern what the author meant by all this. Perhaps it was historically true, yet overall the sex seemed too squicky and clinical for a romance, even the modern girl’s experience. The author has a background in travel writing and historical writing, so perhaps the clinical feel came from that.

The plot itself was slight in both eras. The slave girl realizes her betrothed is in Istanbul to deliver a gift to the Sultan and tries to contact him, but palace intrigue overwhelms her, and she loses her chance to escape; the modern girl leaves Oxford to England to research the slave’s story, and gets over her former lover, and finds a new one. It read less like an adventure and more of a panoramic travelogue through both eras. Like a story about a story, than a story itself. The characters felt twee at times, especially through their dialogue, and some were stereotyped, like the awesome, supportive Best Friend of the modern heroine, and the ne’er do well, cheeky sidekick of the 16th century hero and love interest. But overall, it was a pleasant read that worked in its way.

(For Turkish harem novels, however, Barbara Chase-Riboud‘s Valide was a lot better.) ( )
  Cobalt-Jade | Sep 25, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Footfalls echo in the memory, Down the passage we did not take, Towards the door we never opened, Into the rose garden. My words echo Thus, in your mind. -T.S. Eliot-The Four Queens
Dedication
This book is for my son, Luke Nur 'Aynayya Light of My Eyes who was there at the very beginning.

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The parchment, when Elizabeth found it, was the amber colour of old tea, frail as leaf mould.
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In turn-of-the-seventeenth-century Constantinople, merchant Paul Pindar, secretary to the English ambassador, brings a precious gift to the sultan and learns that a woman he once loved may be hidden among the ranks of the sultan's concubines.

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Book description
Elizabeth Steveley sits in the Bodleian library, holding in her trembling hands a fragment of ancient paper. It is the key to a story that has been locked away for four centuries-the story of a British sea captain's daughter held captive in the sultan's harem. Constantinople, 1959. There are rumors and strange stirrings in the sultan's palace. The chief black eunuch has been poisoned by a taste of a beautiful ship made of spun sugar. The sultan's mother faces threats to her power from her son's favorite concubine. And a secret rebellion is rising within the palace's most private quarters. Meanwhile, the merchant Paul Pindar, secretary to the English ambassador, brings a precious gift to the sultan. As he nears the palace, word comes to Pindar that the woman he once loved, Celia, may be alive, and hidden among the ranks of sloaves in the sultan's harem. Can this really be the same Celia who disappeared in a shipwreck? And if it is, can the two be reunited?
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