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The Abyssinian

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  688 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
At the heart of Jean-Christophe Rufin's marvelous first novel is a nugget of truth: in the year 1699, Louis XIV of France sent an embassy to the King of Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia). From this small fact Rufin has spun a mesmerizing tale of adventure, romance, and political intrigue that is one part Alexandre Dumas and two parts Rafael Sabatini, with just a dash of Bria ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published November 12th 1999 by Picador (first published 1997)
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(showing 1-30)
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M.
Sep 08, 2013 M. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Henüz bir lise öğrencisiyken okuduğum bu kitap; okumalarım arasında "Popüler Kitaplar" kategorisinde en çok beğendiklerimden bir diğeri diyebilirim. Aztekler - Görkemli Bir Uygarlık Trajik Bir Aşk ve Baudolino ile aynı dönemde okuduğum üç tarihi kitaptan ikincisiydi. Üçü de sevdiğim kitaplar oldular.

Şarki havalar içerisinde Mısırdan Habeşistana doğru bir yolculuk! Kanuni Sultan Süleyman'ın Fransa'ya tanıdığı kapitülasyonların sınırlarını zorlayarak Habeşlileri Hristiyan öğretisine çekmeye çalışa
...more
Susan
Apr 23, 2008 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genre-mainstream
I've been reading this novel on-and-off for years. My husband gave it to me for Christmas one year b/c I love anything about the rich past of Ethiopia. It's a historical novel translated from French. I really enjoyed it, but somehow it kept getting preempted by other stuff.

This book accomplishes something that I try for in my own writing and usually fail -- it manages to be genuinely funny in an unfamiliar world (French consul in Cairo in the 1700s). Being funny without slang and pop culture ref
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Mom pehrson
Sep 29, 2007 Mom pehrson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one has it all. Drama, comedy, mystery, adventure, romance! Just a rattling good read.
ladydusk
Borrowed from the Library.

The writing of this book is really quite lovely, particularly when considering that I read it in translation from the French. The word choice and syntax are delightful, and I was surprised by the number of words I had to look up.

I appreciate an author who can use seemingly meaningless earlier plot points and draw them back in showing them to be important in the character development or eventual working out of the story.

This book has a lot going for it: political, socia
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Ayde
Jan 30, 2013 Ayde rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading "The Siege of Isfahan" I wanted to read this author again, but I did not know "The Abyssinian" was his first published novel. As with that title, he introduced here an interesting cast of characters. The plot was well paced and keeps your interest to the end.

I liked Maître Juremi very much, particularly his loyalty to his friend Poncet, as well as his uncommon stubbornness in retaining his convictions.

Poncet is charming also; his behavior shows a guy who cares about love and can do
...more
Ceki
Jan 31, 2015 Ceki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, adventure
Historical books tend to be boring and dark, but this one turned out to be funny, even hilarious. It is filled with vivid descriptions of African landscapes and the characters, at least in the beginning, were realistic, funny and interesting. I loved everything until the half of the book when everything went downhill. Firstly, I got a bit disappointed in the main characters and then the storyline became dragging and tedious. Even though the English copy has around 200 pages, my Serbian copy has ...more
Eline Rootsaert
Jul 15, 2013 Eline Rootsaert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Abyssinie Myrifique! L'Abbyssin obtint de justesse le Prix Goncourt du premier roman. Le style fait penser à Kessel, mon auteur favori.
Margaret
May 28, 2015 Margaret rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting clever book. I really liked the characters and the placement in history.
Good translation from the French as well.
Catherine
Apr 20, 2008 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
orientalism at its best. loved it! although i read it in french and my french is somewhere around the level of a fifth grader- so maybe its not as great in english.
Eileen
Mar 01, 2017 Eileen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. I would give it 3.5 stars. I like historical fiction and I thought this well done.
Czarny Pies
Oct 21, 2015 Czarny Pies rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Les fans des Médécins sans frontières
Shelves: french-lit
Ce roman qui m'a profondement agacé présente le plus grotesque portrait des Jésuits depuis la parution du Juif Errant d'Eugene Sue en 1844-45. Bien que ses autres péchés soient nombreux, je dois quand meme l'accorder une cotte honorable de trois étoiles car il y a auusi des choses bien réussies dans ce roman consternant.
À premiére vue, L'Abyssin est roman cap et épée bien mene qui se termine différament des grandes classiques du genre écrites au dix-neuvième siècle. Le protagoniste Jean-Baptiste
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Schmidleysscribblins.wordpress.com
The basis of the book is an event that occurred in 1699 when Louis XIV sent an embassy of ministers, Jesuits, and a physician to the Negus or King of Abyssinian. The Negus was sick and admitted the strangers only because they accompanied the physician whom he hoped would provide a cure for his malady. In the 17th Century, Abyssinia was a mysterious Coptic Christian country closed to outsiders for centuries. The nation-states of Europe and the Muslim countries of the near east struggled for contr ...more
Jane
Feb 19, 2014 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
2.5. I wavered on my rating, but this novel was not bad. It took me awhile to figure out that it's a gently humorous novel, a sort of comic operetta-like plot. Set in Cairo during the 17th century, the story concerns a doctor/apothecary, Jean-Baptiste; his good friend, fellow apothecary, Maître Juremi; the French consul and family, the French community; Abyssinian Negus [king] and others. The author did a good job in describing the Egyptians' customs of those days. Jean-Baptist accompanies a mis ...more
Meredith
Jul 14, 2011 Meredith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Abyssinian reminded me of when the movie The Mexican was being advertised in the New York City subway with posters of Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts that were soon graffitied: "Which one?"

Indeed, 98% of this book takes place outside of Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia), and we are introduced to only two distinct, named Abyssinians: the King of Kings and our heroes' likable guide. Most of the major characters are French, and much of the book is either about a power struggle between various faction
...more
Hesham
Dec 12, 2013 Hesham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicely written.the novel is about the french legation in Africa,particularly in Cairo and the desire of the king of France Louis Xiv to expand his power toward Abyssinia "Ethiopia" by converting the religion of the people there.

what I Like mostly in this novel is the interactions between multiple ethnic groups including the Muslim ,Catholic and the protestant.

the author of the novel jean Cristophe Rufin who is also a historic ,was captivating in the way he describes the events.sometimes I Feel t
...more
Liliflaj
Feb 10, 2016 Liliflaj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: laguna
As a lover of novels of various genres and different themes, this book was a treat. This is a true adventure books with a touch of historical facts. The book proves the rule that a story made up of people who experience and after talking about it. If you love stories of the past, especially if these are the stories related to the time of the great Louis XIV, then mystical story from the Middle East, the story of a newly discovered Abyssinia, this is the book for you. Abyssinian pulls you to read ...more
Nannie Pomme
Jun 14, 2016 Nannie Pomme rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Une merveille, une magnifique découverte. On voyage du Caire à Gondar en passant par Sanaar et Dongola jusqu'en Abyssinie. Des bords de la mer Rouge au Sinaï jusqu'à ispahan. L'orient comme on ne le connait pas, comme on ne l'a jamais vu au début du XVIIIè siècle. Une belle histoire d'amour sur fond historique. Des personnages haut en couleur. De l'aventure, des voyages, des senteurs, ce livre est vivant et vous fait vibrer à chaque page.
Un auteur que je ne connaissais pas mais qui marquera pou
...more
Camille
Apr 02, 2012 Camille rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un excellent roman qui rappelle Les Trois Mousquetaires & Vingt Ans Apres et entraîne le lecteur en Egypte, en Ethiopie, puis à Versailles - autant de lieux où s'épanouissent des enjeux de pouvoir et de religion dont le héros s'efforce de tirer parti afin de retrouver celle qu'il aime. L'écriture est fluide et agréable, et comme tout bon roman d'aventure, il nous est difficile de le refermer avant de l'avoir terminé.
Laura
This is story of Jean-Baptiste Poncet and his travels crossing the deserts of Egypt, arriving to Abyssinia - the Ethiopian Empire and then back to Versailles, in France.

According to Wikipedia, "the Ethiopian Empire covered a geographical area that the present-day northern half of Ethiopia and Eritrea covers, and included in its peripheries Zeila, Djibouti, Yemen and Western Saudi Arabia. It existed from approximately 1137 (beginning of Zagwe Dynasty) until 1974 when the monarchy was overthrown i
...more
Anja
Aug 18, 2013 Anja rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i loved re-reading this after visiting the ethiopian sites and settings. i think those bits are extraordinary - bringing back to life the ethiopian court and mind set - all isolated perched on top of their high plateau. many modern day things in ethiopia now made sense - reviewed in the historical context.

the bits (majority) set in egypt / cairo, seemed really too long and drawn out - given that they were peripheral to the actual story.
Kathleen
Sep 01, 2007 Kathleen is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
so far so good, but i've put it down several times... It's sent in egypt and is just now moving to ethiopia (where i believe the majority of the action takes place), in the... erk! i forget - 16th century. I was watching something on egypt the other day that made me want to pick it up again (though i was out of town so didn't have it with me)... so hopefully this review will be updated, er..., soon.
Dave
Feb 01, 2010 Dave rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was OK. It wasn't the most engrossing books that I've read recently. In fact, my wife kept asking me why it was taking so long to read. Yet, it was pretty interesting. It was set in 16th century Egypt. There was humor and a little drama.

It was written in French and translated into English. I liked it enough to continue to read it and not just set it aside.
Susan Gardner
Oct 08, 2011 Susan Gardner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gorgeous writing, exotic settings, outrageous characters...altogether an engaging read for a fall weekend. The protagonist is an 18th century French physician literally galloping around Egypt and Abyssinia with a side trip to the court of Louis XIV. Lively explorations into the landscapes and customs of pre-colonial Africa. The author is the founder of Doctors Without Borders.
Stéphane Vande Ginste
Nog een rasechte avonturenroman!
Het doet me met nostalgie denken aan toen ik de boeken van Karl May las: die ongelofelijk spannende avonturen... Dit boek leest als een trein - hoewel het heel dik is... Het is met veel humor en spirit geschreven en sleept je mee tot het einde. Een leuk, tof boek. Je kan je het hoofdpersonage niet meer wegdenken...
David Ratner
Sep 22, 2012 David Ratner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


It was an enjoyable read, especially the parts of discovering a hidden civilization and the political intrigues and maneuvering. Unfortunately the characters were a bit shallow and stereotypical and were basically projections of the writers' ideology, rather than full, round characters.
A more realistic approach would improve it considerably, but it was enjoyable as is.
Jodi
Apr 17, 2016 Jodi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barbara
Feb 10, 2016 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-french
This was a wonderful read. Adventure, history, love, beautiful writing....it had it all. It presented the tale of an expedition to Abyssinia in the time of Louis XIV, with a lot about the Jesuits, the anti-protestant persecutions, and herbalism too. There were some pretty interesting characters in it. The story of the gift of an elephant's ears was a highlight for me.
Duane Bowker
Aug 22, 2015 Duane Bowker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in north Africa in the late 1600s/early 1700s, it tells the story of a young French doctor sent on a mission to open relations with the isolated kingdom of Abyssinia (present-day northern Ethiopia). It's an enjoyable and well-told epic of adventure, romance, friendship and political intrigue.
Sylvie
Dec 11, 2012 Sylvie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Un pur plaisir de lecture! C'est un bonheur que d'apprendre des choses relatives à l'histoire écrites par un auteur qui a une si belle plume et une merveilleuse façon de raconter. Ce livre a remporté le Prix Goncourt, et on comprend aisément pourquoi!
RUSA CODES
Feb 22, 2011 RUSA CODES rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a Read-Alike title for The Religion, the Reading List winner in the Historical Fiction category for 2008. For the complete list, go to http://ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/rusa/aw...
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Jean-Christophe Rufin is a French doctor and novelist. He is the president of Action Against Hunger and one of the founders of Médecins Sans Frontières. He was Ambassador of France in Senegal from 2007 to June 2010.

Rufin was born in Bourges, Cher in 1952. An only child, he was raised by his grandparents, because his father had left the family and his mother worked in Paris. His grandfather, a doct
...more
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