I am sad to know that this is the last book in this series. I have thoroughly enjoyed joining Yashim on his adventures and while I think every one of these stories was over the top, at the same time it rather fit with the decaying and dying Ottoman Empire setting.
I had high expectations for this novel given the acclaim for the earlier novels (which I have not read) in this series as well as the locale and time period.
Unfortunately, this book appears to have been written using only the author's left brain (if I may indulge in that mythical separation).
As a left brain activity, the author is very descriptive of the times and the events with an almost Umberto Eco like penchant for detailing pedantic knowledge. So much so that the events of the book don't even start until halfway into it. The author also has a writing style that emphasizes motion all the time. Nothing is ever still in the novel even if it is the movement of a lizard or birds. This creates a mental image of a very real and live stage for the novel. Other than that the novel is deeply flawed and disappointing.
The author assembles a set of international characters in late 19th century - Polish, Turk, Italian, Danish, Russian, Irish, ... - who fail to rise above the cliches of their respective countries while being able to somehow converse with each other perfectly with no language issues.
The missing right brain results in almost no sense of emotional or empathetic connection between characters. Even the burgeoning love between the protagonist and a female character feels like a cartoonish caricature with their amorous activities reduced to a description of motion as may have been found in an early 20th century amateur smut novel (while one is left scratching the head trying to reconcile the protagonist's physical deformity with the description of the act). The entire novel feels emotionally dead despite the words and narrative which is meant to suggest otherwise. No right brain involved in writing the book. The plot itself culminates in scenes and dialog that resemble a badly made Hollywood movie.
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