Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Sultan's Wife” as Want to Read:
The Sultan's Wife
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Sultan's Wife

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  555 ratings  ·  94 reviews
1677. In Europe, the Enlightenment is dawning after a century of wars. On the seas and in coastal villages, pirates and corsairs are the scourge of the waves. And in Morocco, Sultan Moulay Ismail is concentrating his power, building an elaborate palace complex with captive labor.

Alys Swann is also a captive, but hers is a different lot: convert to Islam, marry the sultan
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Doubleday Canada (first published January 1st 2012)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Sultan's Wife, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Sultan's Wife

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,437)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Mark Lawrence
It has to be said that this book contains rather more about eunuchs and the process of creating them than I ever wanted to know. legs were crossed!

That said, this is a great read. The setting (Morocco in the 1670s) is excellently realised and a trip to London in the book makes for interesting comparison. There may be a romance of sorts lurking at the bottom of this book and I am not a fan of romances, but this is not that kind of a tale. For every stolen touch there are at least two political in
Jonathan Gunson
This book is a MUST READ.

I was exhilarated by this glorious love story.

It opens in Morocco, then carries us right across Europe to the court of King Charles II, where the main character, Nus-Nus, collides with famous English luminaries of the time, including... well, no spoilers, I'll leave that to your imagination and discovery.

Apart from the beautiful writing craft and the page-turning narrative, it exhibits great depth of authenticity, demonstrating the power of drawing on personal experience
I enjoyed this novel a great deal and although I'm not usually drawn to fiction but when I do find myself reading, I get a little too carried away with my emotions. This book drew three major reactions from me; I LOLed, I gasped, I was sad to a point I didn't want to finish the book, but it all came to a pleasing end.

So again, I'm looking at this mysterious book cover only this time it was literally staring back (see that eye on the cover?) and I’m just wondering what it was that I was going to

Let me start by saying I could hardly put the book down. It is so beautifully written and in a way that makes it really easy and enjoyable. I'm not used to the setting in the book (Morocco) and that only made it better for me since it made me discovered an entirely different culture.

As for the story itself, it is packed with action. That is the only "negative" side to it, because I thought at times there was just too much going on, and the actions were somet
Farhana Faruq
Apr 29, 2012 Farhana Faruq rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical-fiction fans
I received this book through GoodReads First Reads.. a huge 'thank you' to Random House of Canada! :)

What an awesome read!! At a hundred and sixty something pages, you wouldn't think it would start of SO interesting!...but it does and continues at that pace. I couldn't get my nose out of it.

This is a historical-fiction taking place in Morocco. There is a lot I really enjoyed about this novel. The story line is very interesting, the characters are fascinating, the real names are used for most of
I was hoping this book would be better, after reading all the glowing reviews. I did get some enjoyment from it, but, for me, the writing was somewhat simplistic and lacking finesse, also there were grammatical errors and anachronisms of language - very modern words and phrases used by people who were supposed to be living in the 17th century. It read something like a fairytale with a "they all lived happily ever after" ending. Left me feeling like I need to read some really decent literature.
First off, what a fascinating life-story Jane Johnson has! As someone who splits her time between living in England and Africa, it's really no wonder that she can incorporate both culture and history so intelligently into her writing.

Imagine any of the Arabian Tales, full of contrary rulers and their dark jealousies, of protracted punishment and treachery, and that is essentially what you will find in The Sultan's Wife. The protagonist is Nus-Nus, who tells the story in the first person and who
Kristi Barr
I have been a big fan of Jane Johnson since I fell into her book "The Tenth Gift" aboard a BC Ferry. "The Salt Road" was also a great read. This book... I struggled through. While the subject matter should be fascinating (Morocco, history, point of view of a eunuch) it just didn't engage me the way her earlier books did. I found myself rushing through the middle, hoping to get to the exciting part... which just didn't materialize.

However, the ending was worth wading through the book for. I'm gl
This book was well researched, and it told an interesting story, but it just wasn't my taste. I read it because of a recommendation. It deals with very harsh subject matter, such as torture, slavery, various sexual atrocities, and general disregard for life. I just didn't enjoy reading it... it was painful and so horrible to think of a time when such things were the way of life - and I hope that they aren't like this anymore. I'd like to think it's all an exaggeration, but I fear it is not. How ...more
A bewitching novel set in 17th c., THE SULTAN’S WIFE is an engulfing ride to exotic Morocco, into the palace of the horrific Sultan Moulay Ismail and his ‘witch’ wife, Zidana. From Morocco to England, the novel revolves around NusNus, the Sultan’s African eunuch scribe and Alys Swan a virgin Dutch beauty kidnapped for the Sultan.
Life is but a breath short of death around the cruel Ismail who decides the fate of all those around him depending on the degree of his wrath. Zidana, on her side offer
Ben Kane
Having read and enjoyed The Tenth Gift by the same author, I was looking forward to the publication of this novel. Set slightly later in the 17th Century, it's written partly in the first and partly in the third person, a tricky feat, but which Johnson carries off very well indeed.

The central character is Nus-Nus, a black eunuch in the Arabic court of the Sultan of Morocco. He's a deeply attractive and nuanced character who from the first page lives in constant fear of his life - not just from h
A good read, this historical novel takes place in 17th century Morocco&England. Alys Swann is abducted by Moorish pirates when sailing to England from Holland to get married. She ends up in the
harem of Moulay Ismail-a cruel capricious vindictive king-where she will give birth to a son Mohammed,which puts her at odds with the First Wife Zidana who rules the harem & uses all means to secure the succession for her brood. We meet NusNus an African slave of royal descent, whose 1st master is
What an excellent read! It takes place in Morocco in the year 1677 when the awful,tyrannical and powerful Sultan, Moulay Ismail ruled with his evil and monstrous wife Zidana.

This story is told by Nus Nus, the son of a Chieftan who was taken by slavers and now works for the Sultan as a lowly scribe. He has a book where he records all of the Sultan's sexual activities. The Sultan has a huge harem of which his horrible wife, Zidana is in charge of. History records that this Sultan fathered over 90
Sultánova žena se mi opravdu moc líbila, byl to příběh plný intrik, krutosti a závisti, ale také i lásky, přátelství a pomoci, kterou jste našli tam, kde byste ji rozhodně nečekali. Je to kniha, kde zasáhl osud spojením dvou ztracených duší. Najdou díky zásahu osudu svůj smysl života? Nebo budou dále tápat a kruté prostředí je zahubí, protože lidský život tady nemá skoro žádnou cenu?
The characters were one dimensional and the story line was highly implausible bordering on the ridiculous including its happy ending. The main character, a eunuch slave working for the sultan of Morocco who falls in love with one of the harem's English concubines, survives so many potential deaths you'd think he sold his soul to the devil. The novel is quite readable though and it really picks about 2/3s of the way through. You can tell that that author did a reasonable amount of research on the ...more
As I read the first few chapters of this book, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it or not. It starts off a bit slow. But I really enjoyed it in the end, and I'm glad I continued!
I enjoy historical fiction, but had never read anything set in Morocco before. The story follows two main characters - Nus Nus, a slave of the sultan, and Alys, a captured English woman who becomes part of the sultan's harem. At times the story is a bit peculiar - but there are some surprises along with the way that
Ivana Ciglar
I honestly expected a little bit more after The Salt Road which was amazing. I guess I got spoiled in the process. The best thing about this book is how vividly and realistic Jane describes the historical setting, scenery, life and death, rape, harem, plague... You are drawn and you feel as though you are living the story. This is her greatest asset. Few things bothered me but nothing as much to ruin the pleasure of reading it. She could have made more contact / more encounters between Alys and ...more
My first book by this author and I was really impressed, will definately read her other books and would recommend to others.

Has an exotic feel throughout and lets you enter a secretive world of the harem and the rule of a cruel Sultan. Although throughout there any many scenes of violence, tortune and general unpleasantness it was never too much and added to the style of the book.

I would would describe this as a historical romance loosely based on actual events and charactors however Ayls and N
Loved loved loved The Salt Road and The Tenth Gift, so was looking forward to immersing myself in "Jane's world" again. This was one of those all-too-rare books that I raced through because I loved reading it, and was sad to finish. It took me quite a few days to figure out what to read next, because I didn't want to break the spell with anything less entrancing.
If you enjoy learning about other lands, other cultures, other times, this is a great and cosy read. The plot is intriguing and the cha
Rosemary Morris
The sights and sounds of Morrocco and those of Charles' IInd's London are brought vividly to life by Jane Johnson; and so is the pitiable condition of slaves captured by barbary pirates.

At every twist and turn of the novel I hoped Nus Nus a ennuch of African origing and Alys Swann captured by corsairs, faced with death if she did not renounce her faith in order to become a member of the tyrannical Sultan Moulay Ismail, would triumph over their many tribulations.

The final resolution took me compl
Mrs Soup
While exotic and intriguing on the one hand, this book is so full of danger and suffering that it felt a bit gratuitous at times, and I tended to read it in small chunks. At the end, there was a historical note, and I was happily surprised to find that many of the charaters were actual historical figures portrayed closely to what is known of them. I felt less of a sensation-seeker and more of a historian, realizing I'd discovered a place and time I hadn't known anything about.
It was my good fortune to have been loaned this marvelous book! The author took me on a fascinating ride back in history. The excursion included companionship of well rounded characters, authentic place & time!
My experience with the exploration was enhanced because I'd visited the prime location (Meknes), and am familiar with other sites mentioned as well as customs and various references, such as a fruit (argan) that grows only in Morocco!
Thoroughly enjoyed!
Well, this was a pretty good yarn, and sometimes (in the midst of more challenging, more literary novels) that’s just what the doctor ordered. Also, I was coming back from a week in the Middle East (Oman) and saw this at the airport in Qatar and felt I could do with a story that involved a sultan, a harem, souks, slaves, incense, intrigue and other ingredients straight out of Arabian Nights but in a modern version.

Jane Johnson clearly knows her stuff when it comes to Islam, Morocco, The Quran, m
The Sultan's Wife is beautifully written. You feel compassion for the slavery parts. You will be able to drink in all the atmosphere. You will be able to smell the amber, pine & musk scent's. You can feel upon your feet the jewelled slippers they wear. All the characters are skilfully mapped out. A very nice rich read. You can buy this book on penguin book site.
I have never read a historical fiction book before. I loved the detailed descriptions and was able to imagine things along the way. It kept my attention. Some parts of the book had fast action which made me want to keep up with the pace so I would read faster. I was also able to learn about 1600s Morocco which I found interesting - very barbaric times.
EXCELLENT! Truly an enjoyable read. Could not put it down. Thankfully I was on vacation so had loads of time to devote to this exquisitely written novel.
The Salt Road was about the earlier days of south Morocco. This is based on the time of Muslim rule, piracy rife on all sides. It is a great read.

Morocco in the 17C- a time and place about which I know little. This book was most enjoyable
Alys Swann is taken captive on her way to meet her future fiancé in England, and finds herself a slave to the sultan of Morocco. Nus-Nus, the sultan’s scribe, must convince Miss Swann to convert to Islam and become one of the sultan’s many wives, else he will be put to death along with her.

It was a decent read. It lagged at times and was prone to some jumbly boring bits, but overall I guess it was okay. Wasn’t a big fan of the female characters who seemed to exist solely for stabbing one another
Loved this book. It carried the scent of the dessert. Great cover too.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 47 48 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Devil on Her Tongue
  • The Vizard Mask
  • The Virgin's Tale
  • Mistress of the Sea
  • Harem
  • The Harem Midwife
  • Cinderella and the Sheikh
  • A Singular Hostage
  • The Assyrian
  • The Queen's Promise
  • Scroll of Saqqara
  • The Borgia Mistress (The Poisoner Mysteries, #3)
  • Shadow of the Sheikh (Immortal Sheikhs #2)
  • Sweet Dates in Basra: A Novel
  • Muse
  • Innocent in the Sheikh's Harem (Armstrong Sisters #1)
  • The Sheikh's Claim (Desert Nights #2)
  • Sins of the Mother
aka Jude Fisher, Gabriel King (with M. John Harrison)

Jane Johnson is from Cornwall and has worked in the book industry for 20 years, as a bookseller, publisher and writer.

She was responsible for publishing the works of J R R Tolkien during the 1980s and 1990s and worked on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, spending many months in New Zealand with cast and crew. Under the pseudonym o
More about Jane Johnson...
The Tenth Gift The Salt Road The Secret Country The Shadow World (The Eidolon Chronicles) Legends of the Shadow World (Eidolon, #1-3)

Share This Book