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The Dervish House Hardcover – July 27, 2010
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From Bookmarks Magazine
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Hardcover : 359 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1616142049
- ISBN-13 : 978-1616142049
- Dimensions : 6.23 x 1.2 x 9.25 inches
- Publisher : Pyr; First Edition (July 27, 2010)
- Language: : English
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I actually took notes on the different characters, and it helped me immensely. I felt the book could have benefitted from a list of characters, so here's a short list for you: Necdet Hasguler - Is a recent arrival in Istanbul, living at Dervish House with his brother Ismet Shayk (also called Dede). At the very beginning of the book, Necdet witnesses a woman blow herself up in an apparent terrorist attack on a bus. Can Durukan - 9-year-old boy with a heart condition that could be triggered by loud noises - therefore he lives a tightly controlled life to isolate him from sound. He spends much of his time sending robot toys he has programmed out into the city and tracking their movements on his computer. Ayse Erkoc - Owns an antique store in the Dervish House. Adnan Serioglu - A trader in gas futures, married to Ayse. Georgios Ferentinou - Greek, has lived in Istanbul his whole life. Retired economist/mathematician. Leyla Gultasli - Young woman who recently graduated from college with a marketing degree. She is living in Dervish House and looking for a job. Ultimately, I preferred Brasyl as I felt the plot was more interesting, but this was still a good read and our book club had a good discussion about it.
What I love about this particular work is that McDonald does not rely solely on the science fiction or technological aspects of the story for his plot to function. The SF is just something that exists in the background, it's a lived reality where the people in Istanbul accept that technology that allows the fibers of a person's clothing to shift colour and change design is a normal everyday activity. Similar to the way that we would notice or not notice someone walking down the street with a blue-tooth earpiece talking on their cell phone.
A slight criticism I have with this novel (but one that I think is just a byproduct of the way the story is framed around the city) is that it is a bit fragmented during the first 100 pages. It takes some while to start to relate to many of these characters because the narrative jumps around fairly quickly, never sticking in one place for any significant amount of time. I think this is largely a result of the fact that the real character of this entire story is the city of Istanbul. And this is told through a long-lens from far off. It's easy to reflect on this book as being told from the view of a bird that soars in and out of the city. If you're looking for something very cosmopolitan and yet strangely familliar, then this book is definitely worth finding. A solid book to an author I will return to very soon.
Top reviews from other countries
There are numerous characters who are faily well sketched - the ousted academic, the child detective with a heart complaint, the stock market swindler and his religious-artefact selling wife, the disturbed fanatic and the nano-tech entrepeneurs. McDonald weaves their stories very skillfully and vividly paints a picture of near-future Istanbul and the integration of new technology into an ancient city.
I really enjoyed "River of Gods" but couldn't finish "Brasyl" for some reason. But this is by some way the best book I have read this year. McDonald successfully merges good story-lines with believable future-technology and writes it well. Any author who can come up with a line such as "Smell is the djinni of memory, all times are one to it" has my admiration.
If you want intelligent, well-written near-future science-fiction, you can't go wrong with this book. Highly recommended.
I can see from one or two other reviewers that some Turkish readers feel that some of his attempts to employ Turkish language were perhaps a little too brave, and produced sufficient errors to annoy such readers. For that I knock a star off what otherwise would be a perfect score. My own shameful ignorance of the language shielded me from being distracted by such errors. What I was left with was, not only a great read, but something that stirred and built my interest in the place and its people, moving Turkey, and Istanbul in particular, far up the list of countries I really want to visit - preferably on or before 2025 really comes around. I really wasn't expecting my science fiction reading to also shape my future travel preferences...
Anyway, "The Dervish House", with or without its SF veneer, is a cracking read - rather like a slightly more literary Len Deighton. I knew a bit about Constantinople, but next to nothing about modern Istanbul, so I found the book admirably researched (even though the review by "ZdeMC" in August this year suggests that the author should have delved even deeper). I hadn't read any Ian McDonald before - I'm going to have to read his earlier books now!
This book does not have that fault. Unusually among sci-fi books, it is brilliantly, perfectly paced. The plot ticks along, speeding up towards the denouement, but the grace notes are not lost along the way. Istanbul, this wonderful crowded exhaust-fumed Istanbul which McDonald has created for us, breathes its golden dust-filled warmth over the book throughout, never abandoning the story. Getting that mix right is truly the work of a master.
The characters are touching and fascinating. The fragile overambition of a just-graduated 'marketing executive', the long-held grudges and fears of a withdrawn and lonely academic... these and many more are evoked beautifully. And McDonald's mix of technology, Islam, academia and superstition is a heady brew. Drink deeply.