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The Sultan's Wife

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  752 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
Page-turning mystery, grandly seductive romance and full historical immersion into Moroccan court history, this exquisitely depicted and intensely absorbing novel follows in the bestselling tradition of The Tenth Gift and The Salt Road.

1677, Morocco. Behind the magnificent walls and towering arches of the Palace of Meknes, captive chieftain's son and now a lowly scribe, Nu
ebook, 464 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Doubleday Canada (first published January 1st 2012)
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Kate Would be X rated/ an 18 at the cinema. Brutal killings and rape. Higly recommend to an adult though. Really good read.
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Mark Lawrence
Mar 12, 2016 Mark Lawrence rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 27, 2014 Jonathan Gunson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Simona Stoica
Mar 18, 2016 Simona Stoica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb roman. O să mă bântuie o perioadă.
Dec 23, 2012 Malda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
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
Jun 22, 2012 Sabrina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Jan 25, 2013 Jemimah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
If you think this is a story from 1001 Nights then you are wrong
This is the 1001 nightmare of a girl who is kidnapped and forced to be a slave and slave Nus-Nus
who becomes her friend who is the only bright spot in such a cruel world in which she is found herself
Every day is a challenge to stay alive for NusNus who works for these two evil masters. He must also find a way to make life endurable for Alys whom he secretly loves- she in turn trusts only him. The story becomes that much more entici
Jul 20, 2012 Jae rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Farhana Faruq
Apr 29, 2012 Farhana Faruq rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 22, 2014 Yelena rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jacqueline Wagenstein
Джейн Джонсън пише книги, за които ви се иска веднага да разкажете на някого. „Фаворитката на султана” те хваща за ръката още на първата страница и после помита всичките ти представи за страст, история и романс. Представи си Северна Африка с гледките, миризмите и суеверията. Представи си най-мрачната арабска приказка, съчетана с „Реставрация” на Роуз Тримейн. Освен всичко друго, Джонсън възкресява любопитни исторически фигури, обвързвайки ги в един хипнотичен разказ за интриги, коварство, лоялно ...more
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
Dec 11, 2012 Lucy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 22, 2012 Ben Kane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 14, 2012 Julia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 24, 2015 Mitriel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I devoured The Sultan's Wife in four days, which given what a slow reader I am and how every book normally takes me about three-four weeks, must be some kind of personal record. In fact I could hardly put it down. It's absolutely brilliant, Jane Johnson is an amazing storyteller and if you like the sound of a dark, gripping Arabian tale set in the 17th century, I very highly recommend that you give it a go!
Jul 02, 2014 Maragad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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?
mary lange
Mar 18, 2016 mary lange rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully told story

Survival, love and life in 17th century Morocco as told by a eunuch of the sultan's harem. Excellent, unforgettable historical fiction!
Aug 01, 2012 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 19, 2013 Ivana Ciglar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 22, 2012 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 19, 2012 Rosemary Morris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 07, 2012 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 15, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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
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