L'Abyssin: Relation des extraordinaires voyages de Jean-Baptiste Poncet, ambassadeur du Négus auprès de Sa Majesté Louis XIV
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L'Abyssin: Relation des extraordinaires voyages de Jean-Baptiste Poncet, ambassadeur du Négus auprès de Sa Majesté Louis XIV

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  422 ratings  ·  40 reviews
A l'origine de ce livre, un fait historique : Louis XIV, le Roi-Soleil, est entré en relation avec le plus ténébreux, le plus mythique des grands souverains de l'Orient, le Négus. L'Abyssin est le roman de cette fabuleuse ambassade. Jean-Baptiste Poncet, jeune médecin des pachas du Caire, sera, par une extraordinaire réunion de circonstances, le héros de cette épopée baroq...more
Hardcover, 581 pages
Published March 13th 1997 by Gallimard (first published 1997)
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The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre DumasLove and Louis XIV by Antonia FraserDark Angels by Karleen KoenThe Sun King  by Nancy MitfordBefore Versailles by Karleen Koen
Louis XIV
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(showing 1-30 of 751)
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Susan
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...more
Mom pehrson
This one has it all. Drama, comedy, mystery, adventure, romance! Just a rattling good read.
Ayde
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
Jane
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
Hesham
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
Meredith
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
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
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...more
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...
Pascal
On plonge dans un passé pas si lointain en Ethiopie, sur le destin des anciens colons, mais aussi de cet émissaire à la cour du Roi qui fera tout pour préserver son pays...
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
Camille
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.
Anja
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.
David Ratner


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.
Susan Gardner
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.
Dave
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.
oOSarahOo
Le roman de Jean-Christophe excellent et sa version audio est tout simplement magistrale, sans doute le meilleur livre audio qu'il m'ait été donné d'écouter!
Laurie
I really loved this book. The characters were engaging. The story telling was a long, beautiful thread with side branches that added to the main tale. His prose flows. I wish this author was more prolific. I read the followup book....not quite as good, but still worth the read and the time.
Cristián A. Gaymer
Buen libro. Rufin escribe bastante simple y directo. La historia a veces le falta un poco más de acción, o pasión, o drama, pero sólo en el sentido de que le falta un poco de intensidad a esas cosas.

En general es entretenido y bien descrito.
Maighdlyn
Excellent... great historical details. I learnt a lot about the expatriate community that existed in Egypt at the time... the only remark I would make is that I felt that the love story became a little "long" at times. But I would definitely recommend it.
Sylvie
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!
Julia
Un sympathique roman d'aventures, écrit sur la toile historique de l'évangélisation d'Abyssinie voulue par le roi Louis XIV. Mais un tel sujet aurait mérité une réflexion bien plus profonde sur la colonisation et l'évangélisation!
Shannon
This is a beautifully written epic novel about the things we will do for love, and whether or not we will stay true to ourselves in the process. Some may think the style of writing is a little slow, but I really enjoyed it.
RUSA CODES
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...
Gina
A bit of a potboiler, this starts of well but by midpoint, it becomes mired down in too much swashbuckling. What I did enjoy was the rich historical details about Cairo and Abyssinia.
Catherine
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.
hatpin
A fun but rather silly book that really suffers in translation. Read in French if possible. Author has an axe to grind with the diplomatic corps!
Eline Rootsaert
Abyssinie Myrifique! L'Abbyssin obtint de justesse le Prix Goncourt du premier roman. Le style fait penser à Kessel, mon auteur favori.
Chrisl
Interesting setting and enjoyable language, liked it enough to try a couple other books by Rufin, but neither held my interest.
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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
More about Jean-Christophe Rufin...
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