|Review||Review - DISAPPEARED, Anthony Quinn||
|Wednesday, November 26, 2014|
Lengthy, involved and meandering, this epic soap opera by veteran historical novelist Falconer (Feathered Serpent, etc.) is set in the court of the 16th-century Turkish sultan Suleyman and its harem of 300 beautiful women. Suleyman favors Gabehar, who has borne him a son, but Harrem, a ruthless red-haired Russian, schemes to be next in line, seducing the sultan with her wiles: thus begins an epic catfight. For nearly four decades (1522-1559), Harrem conspires mercilessly against her enemies, employing lies, blackmail and poison. One of her victims is Julia, a captive Venetian girl, whose own unlikely story (she once loved the man who is now the eunuch in charge of the harem) plays out in counterpoint to Harrem's. As Harrem becomes bolder, Suleyman falls under her malevolent spell, until his ability to rule is questioned. Although filled with meticulous detail about the customs and role of the harem, the book pays little attention to the greater historical events of the era. Loaded with court and harem intrigue, it is short on action and long on bedroom conspiracies, which lose their juicy appeal long before the drawn-out conclusion.