The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer
1442: The Ottoman Turks are advancing through the Balkans with Vienna in their sights and Constantinople, the Orthodox Greek capital, within their grasp. Dracul, ruler of Wallachia (present-day Romania), will pay almost any price to save his country, but he will not surrender to the blackmail of the cardinals of Rome; he will not betray the Greeks.
When Vlad, his middle son, begins to show signs of the ancestral sickness, Dracul vows to deliver him into safety. But time is running short. To some, Vlad Dracula is a strigoi, the worst of all evils; to others, he is the son of a righteous man. Confrontational, charismatic and manipulative, he tests family and enemy alike. Surely he is destined for power, but of what kind?
As the Ottomans plot to take Constantinople, the future of Vlad Dracula becomes a weapon for those who would preserve the Golden City of the Eastern Church. The Catholics are afraid of him; the Greeks hold the scrolls that tell of his past. And when the Sultan calls for the services of a soothsayer, even the shrewd teller of fortunes is unprepared for what he learns.
"With a multifaceted narrative, diverse characters, and stunning historical detail, this book is completely absorbing. The author stirs together history, myth, political intrigue, and religious conflict to create a gripping, expertly researched story." -The Historical Novel Society
"I thoroughly enjoyed this book and stayed up night after night to read it"
- Mary Hoffman
"Dracula may be a figure often consigned to horror stories and melodrama; here by contrast, he is enigmatic and masterful, an historical figure effortlessly characterised by Turner even as she cloaks him in mystery."
- L. Silverlock
Winner of Bronze Award for Best Europe Fiction
Independent Publisher Book Awards 2017
The Inspiration Behind the Book – A Harem and a Myth
The initial idea for The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer came after I visited Istanbul in 2012. One of the sultanate’s most famous hostages was Vlad Dracula, whose family played a major role in defending Christendom from the Turks, although I didn’t know that at the time. What fascinated me about the remains of the Topkapı Palace at Istanbul was the harem, which was a real labyrinth of courtyards and rooms. It struck me as a prison, which is effectively what it was, even though many historians stress the power that women had at one point in the seraglio of the Ottoman court. And then there was the Romanian side of the story: Dracula’s family history.
I discovered a rare book on Romanian folklore in a French library one day while I was doing some research for an article on European travel. The book is out of print now; if that book was not the last copy in circulation, it was certainly one of the last. It was a documented exploration of the myth of the Romanian vampire, complete with bibliography. Reading it did give me the shivers at times, but the combination of Vlad Dracula and the Ottoman court was too enticing to pass up, and the rest of the story simply slotted in place.
"Very well researched and gripping…a far more ambitious novel than Gioconda, covering a vast sweep of time and place…I thoroughly enjoyed this book and stayed up night after night to read it. Much as I enjoyed Gioconda, this is a huge leap forward in scope and accomplishment. " - Mary Hoffman, Author of the Stravaganza series and The Ravenmaster's Boy
"Glorious descriptions of settings and interiors go hand-in-hand with well-developed characters…a fascinating read. Recommended for all those with an interest in the Ottoman Empire – or with a somewhat “exotic” setting in general" -Discovering Diamonds Reviews
"I absolutely could not put this book down. The politics of this region and time are fascinating. The diverse, powerful cultures, each desiring control, are intent on growing their influence. Each wishes to consume the other. The vampire aspects of the story are more about the history of vampirism and the effects of this disease on Vlad Dracul and his son. This is a historical fiction book with mild aspects of mysticism and supernatural"
- J. Keeten, Blogger
"This is not only a good story, but a very thought-provoking novel, artfully structured. Lucille Turner spins a compelling tale pivoting on the myth of the vampyr, or strigoi, a being who ‘can admit neither of confession, nor of prayer, nor of sacrament, since all three of these are an abomination to his kind'"
- L. Silverlock, Writer
"The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer by Lucille Turner was every bit as amazing as I hoped it would be. I've been reading more and more historical fiction this year and I have yet found another favourite book in the genre" Stephanie - Bookfever, Blogger