Thursday, March 8, 2012
Book 22: The Oracle of Stamboul
The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas was a good attempt at a debut book but also definitely came up lacking.
My friend loaned me this book. I was slightly remised in reading this book in a timely fashion. So I bumped this book to the head of my reading list so I could give it back to her. She did warn me that it was only an alright book so I tried to keep that in mind.
The Oracle of Stamboul is about a girl, Eleonora. She’s incredibly smart. She snuck aboard a boat to follow her father to Stamboul. There she is met with tragedy but adopted by her father’s friend. Her education is allowed to continue.
The book has some nice descriptions and is very lyrical. But the plot is so stagnant especially in comparison to the all the books that I have been reading recently. All I wanted was something to drive the story and get to the point. It was over two thirds in before she was even presented something that was even close to be oracle. Even then, I would hardly call her an oracle in the classical sense which is ironic since she was well read in the classics. She didn’t foretell events; she just merely made logical suggestions.
I was often pulled back from the book by some historical inconsistencies or something that didn’t make full sense to me. One of the first things was the idea how the Sultan’s mother would want to have canned beluga caviar during a war for a French ambassador. It was something that canned goods barely in production in 1880s and while considered a huge fad to the elite classes of Europe, there is still the ability to get such a product during the time of war. It just didn’t flow. Plus I highly doubt that Moncef Bey would have been allowed to keep Eleonora in the men’s side of the house without besmirching her honor for so long. But the biggest thing that would kill me was the use of Reverend Muehler as an American spy. The US didn’t look outward during that time frame, the OSS was the first major department intelligence service for the US, wasn’t formed until World War II and any intelligence collection was done on an ad-hoc basis prior to the OSS. There would be no handlers, barely any spying, or anything of the sort. Reading that the Rev. would report to the Department of War in Stamboul about the Germans and the Russians would just make me cringe and was a major point that showed how the author didn’t have a lot of in-depth research.
Overall I would give The Oracle of Stamboul as a two star book. Not great. Several flaws (mainly the slow moving plot and the historical believability) but it was also easy read and very lyrical.