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A Reader of Fictions: The Mystic's Dream - Loreena McKennitt

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Mystic's Dream - Loreena McKennitt

The Oracle of Stamboul

Author: Michael David Lukas
Pages: 304
ARC Acquired From: HarperCollins via NetGalley

Brief Summary:
Eleonora was born on the worst of all nights, during the sacking of her village. Her birth corresponded with an ancient prophecy, and, true to expectation, she is no ordinary girl. Animals are drawn to her; she has a flock of birds that follows her wherever she goes. In addition, she is incredibly intelligent, a savant. Ellie can recall everything she reads; not only that, but she can also analyze information with a skill far beyond her eight years. All Ellie cares about is spending time with her father, so, when he has a business trip to Stamboul, she stows away in the cargo. Her trip will give her a chance to expand her knowledge and experience, and embroil her in the highest levels of the Ottoman world.

Review:
This is another book that receives the label of 'disappointing' from me. The time period is an exceedingly interesting one: the Ottoman Empire is on the verge of collapse in the days before WWI, trying to navigate the stormy waters of international politics. Eleonora, too, is a really interesting character (to me at least), what with her incredible intelligence and love of literature. Somehow though, this does not equal a thrilling tale.

The story, such as it is, plods along incredibly slowly. There is little action (and when there is a more exciting thing, like a sinking ship, the narration skips from the beginning to the aftermath. Plot was definitely lacking. I never identified any real purpose to the story, aside from the really lame and said-straight-out comments in the brief epilogue.

Despite being historical fiction, the story didn't do anything with the history at all. It was such a waste. Ellie's hinted powers were wasted as well. What of her connection with animals? What else can she do? The ending seemed not so much the intended conclusion as an escape from the author not knowing how to conclude the story he had begun. The book is not particularly long, so there was definitely room for more narration, but it just ends, unsatisfactorily.

I mentioned before that I found Eleonora to be an interesting character. However, the narration follows a number of different people, most of whom I had absolutely no interest in. For example, Reverend Muehler irritated me from the beginning and got perpetually worse (and is plot line was never tied up).

For me, this book showed a lot of promise in subject matter and is well-written, but fails to achieve much of anything. Of course, looking at other reviews, I find that many people loved it. It's all a matter of personal taste.

"A clouded dream on an earthly night
Hangs upon the crescent moon

A voiceless song in an ageless light

Sings at the coming dawn

Birds in flight are calling there

Where the heart moves the stones

It's there that my heart is calling"

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