Elizabeth Stavely sits in the Bodleian library with trembling hands. Before her is a fragment of parchment which has about it a dusty fragrance of roses, of sadness and great age. Here is the clue she has been looking for, to a story that has been untold for four hundred years. It is as though a voice is whispering softly to her across the centuries. Constantinople, 1599: merchants from all over Europe are vying with each other to gain trading rights in the Ottoman empire. Paul Pindar, a wealthy merchant, has been entrusted with the mission to deliver an extraordinary musical clock to the Sultan. But a disaster has befallen it on its journey from England, and the organ-maker Thomas Dallam must attempt to repair the effects of the seawater on the precious artifact. Pindar is troubled too by a secret sadness: the woman he once loved is now lost to him, drowned in a shipwreck. But there have been rumours of a new young slave with golden hair and skin like milk, sighted behind the gates of the Sultan's harem. Could this be his Celia? Deep inside the most private quarters of the Sultan's palace, a different drama unfolds: Hassan Aga, the Chief Black Eunuch, lies spreadeagled and helpless, his life slowly ebbing away. Beside him is an intricate ship made of spun sugar, perhaps carrying the poison that is about to take his life. A veiled figure stands over him, and as she moves away the light catches the huge emerald on her finger, causing it to glow like a cat's eye. The Aviary Gate is a tale of ancient alliances and intrigues, of forbidden love and dangerous secrets. Lush, magical and utterly absorbing, it is a masterful novel from one of our most acclaimed authors.
'A hugely enjoyable novel, multi-layered, vividly depicted and a fascinating story, filled with the colours, sights and scents of Constantinople in the 16th century. This story is at the same time fast moving, complex and deeply satisfying.' -- Joanna Harris, author of Chocolat
'A magical, engrossing read that takes us inside a 16th-century harem...this absorbing novel of intrigue and forbidden love manages to be both cerebral and entertaining' -- Glamour, May 1st 2008
'Dear reader, lie back on your ottoman and relax. Katie Hickman will take you to a magical land, the Topkapi harem in Istanbul in 1599.' -- The Independent
'Forbidden love, sailors and secrets - fasten your seat belts for Hickman's period tome' -- In Style UK, May 1st 2008
'Hickman has given us a Turkish delight of a novel that should win her legions of fans'
-- Tatler, April 1st 2008
'Teasing, erotic, suspenseful and expertly done.'
-- The Daily Mail
'The Aviary Gate reminds us of the fact that Katie Hickman is first and foremost a vibrant story-teller who writes mainly because of the pure joy of weaving stories, be they historical or as in this case fictional accounts. And for that, I am very grateful to her.' -- Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran
'This cleverly written escapist novel looks set to turn Hickman into the next Philippa Gregory.' -- Eve
'This entrancing novel marries a plot so thrilling you'll miss your station stop...Insatiably gripping' -- Easy Living, May 1st 2008
`If your taste runs to quality historical romances, The Aviary Gate takes you into the Harem to follow the fortunes of an Englishwoman who becomes the Sultan's slave in 1599.'
-- Maureen Freely, Guardian
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