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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

A Review of

The Kadin

by Bertice Small

 

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Summary

This historical romance novel's story line centers around what happens when the daughter of a Scottish nobleman finds herself sold into slavery in the East and winds up in a Turkish harem. The Kadin

 

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Fact Sheet

Title

The Kadin

Author

Bertrice Small

ISBN

0-380-01699-0

Publisher

Avon Books, Inc.

Category

Historical Romance Novel

Rating

StarStarStarStarStar

Number of Pages

448

Published In

1978

 

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Description

In this historical romance novel, the daughter of a Scottish nobleman finds herself sold into slavery in the East and winds up in a Turkish harem. It is the story of the friends she made and the harem politics that she triumphs over. The book opens in the year 1490, and it draws to a close in 1542. The bulk of it occurs in the royal palaces of the Sultan in Istanbul.

The author has clearly done extensive research on the historical era in which she has set her book. She seamlessly incorporates real-life historical figures such as the Ottoman Sultans and the king of Scotland into her story. The main character confronts issues such as the expectation that she'll abandon her Christian belief system and embrace Islam.

Like most romance novels, The Kadin definitely contains some sex scenes. In this book, these scenes don't occur very frequently — there are only a couple, really, and they don't go into much explicit detail.

 

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Is It Right for You?

 

You Will Probably Enjoy This Book If...

  • You're looking for light reading that develops close friendships among women as a key aspect of the plot.
  • You enjoy historical fiction.
  • You are fascinated by the Ottoman harem of the 16th century and would enjoy a story that unfolds there.
  • You appreciate authors who work hard to research the historical eras and locations in which they set their characters.

 

This Book Probably Isn't Right for You If...

  • You don't particularly like romance novels.
  • You aren't a fan of books whose plots are fairly predictable.
  • You're looking for a book that prominently features dancing. (It's not mentioned at all in this book.)

 

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

 

What I Liked:

  • Janet Leslie, the lead character, is strong, likeable, and intelligent. I always enjoy a book more when its primary character appeals to me, and Cyra Hafise (the Turkish name given to Janet) is one of my very favorite characters in all the romance novels I've read.
  • Bertrice Small (the author) clearly did extensive research when preparing this book. Although I certainly would not encourage anyone to think of a romance novel as being a legitimate source of historical or cultural information, I nonetheless was impressed at the overall use of historical detail in this book. Most of her portrayal of life in an Ottoman harem rang true with what I have read in other sources.
  • This was not a formula romance novel. Instead, I would characterize it more as being historical fiction. For me, it was a refreshing change of pace from the formula that romance novels usually follow.
  • Although it is fairly easy to predict which of the Sultan's wives would prevail in the politics of the harem and whose son would end up becoming Sultan, the story is still told very well, and the character development is compelling.
  • For this particular book, the author does not follow her custom of using frequent explicit sex scenes. Although I generally don't mind sex scenes in romance novels, they wouldn't have fit with the tone and the storytelling style of this particular book. The author used good judgment in refraining from using them much in this one.

 

What I Didn't Like:

  • Although the character development is generally one of the strong points of this book, there are a few places where it seems implausible. For example, I found it hard to accept that a group of women would band together to support someone else's son instead of their own as the heir to the throne. It's nice to imagine that such a close friendship could occur, but it just seemed too unlikely.
  • Late in the book, Cyra Hafise makes an error in judgment regarding one of the young women of the harem. Given that throughout nearly all the book, she is portrayed as being very astute when it comes to dealing with people, her lapse in this case jolted me out of the story. It was just too inconsistent with the character development that had gone before.

 

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Conclusion

If you're the kind of person who enjoys historical romance novels set around the time of the Renaissance, especially those with a significant part of the plot taking place in the Middle East, then this is one of the best books on the market. However, if you've never appreciated romance novels, this might not not the right book for you. There are a small number of sex scenes, which are not very explicit. Readers who like lots of juicy sex might be disappointed, but those who prefer books that gloss over the sex scenes will probably find that this book stays within their comfort zone.

I've read a lot of other books by Bertrice Small. Compared to her others, this one puts the heroine through fewer harsh ordeals, and focuses the story line on love and friendship rather than on parades of husbands and lovers. It is definitely quite different from the tone of the Small's popular Skye O'Malley series, and I actually liked The Kadin better than the Skye books.

I found this to be good "airplane reading" — in other words, it's a book that's entertaining enough to absorb my attention fully enough to make a long airplane ride pass more quickly without making my brain work too hard.

 

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Related Books

After finishing this book, if you'd like to read other books by Bertrice Small presenting other adventures in the Middle East and North Africa, there are many available to keep you reading for some time to come. Here is the order I would suggest reading them in, with links (when available) to reviews of them elsewhere on this web site:

  • The Kadin. This was Bertrice Small's first book, and everything else follows it. It is the first in the Leslie Famly series, sometimes called the Cyra Hafisa series.
  • Skye O'Malley. This is the first book in a series about a strong woman named Skye O'Malley and her extended family. Her adventures take her to Algeria at one point.
  • All The Sweet Tomorrows. This is the sequel to Skye O'Malley. Although I was a bit disappointed with this book, I would still recommend that if you liked Skye O'Malley enough to read more in the series, then you should read this before the others. Otherwise, you'll find some of the references to past events and characters in the later books confusing. Part of it takes place in Algeria and Morocco.
  • A Love For All Time. This one comes third in the Skye O'Malley family of books. Part of it takes place in Turkey, and it makes some references to characters who were originally introduced in The Kadin.
  • Love Wild And Fair. This is the sequel to The Kadin and part of the plot takes place in Turkey. It is the second in the Leslie Famly series, sometimes called the Cyra Hafisa series.
  • This Heart Of Mine. I don't plan to review this one for my site, because the heroine's adventures take her to India, which falls outside my geographical scope. But if you've enjoyed the other books about Skye's family so far, you'll want to read this one, which is number four in the series.
  • Lost Love Found. Bertrice Small takes you back to Turkey in this one, the fifth book in her story about Skye O'Malley and her family. Don't tackle this one unless you've read everything above. I made that mistake, and felt entirely confused at all the flashbacks explaining what had gone before.
  • Wild Jasmine. This is the natural sequel to This Heart Of Mine. I don't plan to review this one for my site, because the heroine's time outside of Europe takes place in India, which falls outside the geographic scope that I focus on for this web site. But if you're hooked on the Skye O'Malley series, you'll want to read this one, which is the sixth book in the series.

 

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Disclosures

There is nothing to disclose. I have never had any contact with anyone associated with this book.

 


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