Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Janissary Tree (Yashim the Eunuch, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Janissary Tree (Yashim the Eunuch, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Janissary Tree (Yashim the Eunuch #1)

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  3,412 ratings  ·  579 reviews
An unusual, exotic historical mystery that reads like literature and moves like a thriller. George Pelecanos, author of Drama City
Library Binding
Published November 1st 2007 by Findaway World (first published 2006)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Tea Jovanović
Još jedna knjiga koja me je osvojila na prečac i koju sam progutala u jednom dahu... i to davne 2006. pre pojave (i popularnosti) turskih serija kod nas... :) Dobar krimić s primesama istorijskog i egzotike... :)
Amanda R
For some reason, I just could not get into this book! I thought I would - there were a few parts at the beginning that amused me and seemed interesting, but the more I read, the more uninterested I got. I don't know if it was the plot or the writing, but I just found it all rather forgettable. You know, when you read a chapter and then sit back and think, "Wait...what just happened?" It's never good when you have to keep rereading pages to get them in your brain. And it wasn't that it was diffic ...more
Apr 13, 2008 DROPPING OUT rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one.
Truth is, I did not finish it. I found the characters too much like from a comic-book (not even a graphic novel), and it, well, plodded.

It actually won an Edgar - which is why I checked it out the library in the first place.

But the real kicker is the author sincerely dislikes Constantinople/Istanbul, the scene of the crime. Why do I say this? Well, they say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. In my case, I studied Ottoman history in grad school and found it fascinating. The book says inside
Sometimes, the same thing that makes a writer a brilliant historian prevents him from becoming something much more humble, say, a writer of mysteries. Jason Goodwin, whose book The Lord of the Horizons was a wonderful short history of the Ottoman Empire, tripped up a bit when he wrote his The Janissary Tree. The hero of the book is an investigator who also happens to be a eunuch. In the approaching twilight years of the Empire, Yashim tries to understand a plot to bring down the Sultanate on the ...more
Jan 06, 2008 Amy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs, detective novel fans
Recommended to Amy by: Dave
Oh, the lure of the exotic. And what could be more exotic to a Californian on a rainy winter weekend than a mystery set in the crumbling Ottoman empire of the 1830s with a eunuch investigator, intrigues among harem concubines, Janissaries, and the ambassadors of France, Russia, Poland, and England, among many others?
I picked this book up on a whim after reading about it on my friend Dave's blog (, and, despite intending to read and work on many other things, found myself with m
Jun 11, 2013 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone

The Janissary Tree is the first time I’ve read anything by author Jason Goodwin. Set in Istanbul in the mid-19th century it reminded me of My Name is Black, but this is a less ambitious novel. Still it is a very good one, but shorter and probably much more accessible to the casual/average reader.

I liked the writing, the plotting and the descriptions of time and place. The author made me feel as if I was there and able to understand the life of the ordinary people that form the backdrop of this c
This historical murder mystery reminds me of Caleb Carr's writing except Goodwin doesn't have Carr's flair for suspense nor can he generate the excitement or horror that Carr achieves in books like "The Alienist". In short, Goodwin isn't a GREAT murder/mystery writer, but he is a GOOD mystery writer and what he does achieve here is an ability to transport the reader back to Istanbul in the 1830's. I had read Goodwin's history book of the Ottoman Empire, "Lord's of the Horizon" and what is remark ...more
Surprised this won the Edgar Award. Book was pretty dry and a little disjointed. I suppose that when the hero was in mortal danger, I was supposed to be nervous on his account, but I wasn't. The stakes if the eunuch failed his mission were pretty high--four terrible murders about to be committed, the sultan and his mother would be killed, city in flames, revolution and invasion, no more French novels--but I was blithely unconcerned.

Completely lacking in suspense. Also it was pretty obvious who t
The setting of the The Janissary Tree> is fascinating: the novel takes place in 1836 in Istanbul, with the Ottoman empire on the cusp between tradition and the modernity that will ultimately destroy it. And the main character, Yashim, who is a eunuch, certainly provides a twist on the traditional detective! However, I can’t say that I loved the novel as a novel, rather than as a thinly veiled history lesson about a rather forgotten period in history. In fact, every character was ready to spou ...more
Harry Connolly
The whole time I was reading this, I kept thinking This is why I give terrific books like MAPLECROFT four stars, because I need room for THIS.

Then I got to the end, and the whole thing fell flat.

The setting is Istanbul in the 1830's, and an army officer has been murdered, his body displayed in a gruesome way. Imperial operative Yashim is brought in to solve the killing, and to find the other three officers who disappeared at the same time. Yashim is a man of some breeding who can move unobtrusi
Mar 25, 2008 Lynne rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lynne by: Amazon
Shelves: 2007-2008
I read this because I was interested in the details of 19th century Istanbul, as it was faced with European influences and change. I'm a fan of detective novels only if I get a good dose of charactr and culture (as in James Lee Burke and Tony Hillerman), but this one felt wooden and contrived to if the author was more interested in the political and cultural history than the characters.
I have to admit that I totally don’t get what the fuss is all about. The Janissary Tree bears all the earmarks of a first novel, including a healthy crop of irritating literary tics that I sincerely hope Goodwin will outgrow (to name one: the habit of ending many, many chapters with ridiculously purple Perils of Pauline-esque “cliff-hangers” [of this variety: “Little did he know how soon he would be seeing his friend again—and under what shocking circumstances!”]). Okay, I made that one up, but ...more
Susan Hirtz
I'm glad I disregarded the unfavorable reviews of those who preceded me as readers. Mr. Goodwin is thorough as a researcher and obviously felt it important to his story to include the details of this period in Turkish history. I, for one, having read Suleiman the Magnificent and other books about the Ottoman Empire, think it vital for Westerners to understand the history of the Middle East.

The Janissaries were the Sultan's right arm in the expansion of the Ottoman Empire and helped him retain hi
The Ottoman Empire is modernizing in 1836. The corrupt Janissary Corp was forcibly disbanded 10 years ago and the Sultan is on the verge of making sweeping changes. A series of disturbing murders are committed in Istanbul and Yashim must find the culprit before wide spread panic ensues.

The cast includes a Polish ambassador without a country, a Russian ambassador with a bored wife, the leader of the new Ottoman Army, the Sultan’s mother and a transsexual dancer, to name a few. The amount of char
The first offering in this detective series set in Istambul in the 1830's. Yashim is on the trail of a conspirary of former soldiers "The Janissaries" while trying to solve the murder of a woman in the Sultan's harem and the theft of the Sultan's mother precious jewels given to her by Napoleon's wife Josephine. The setting is exotic, the plot is intriguing. Yashim is endearing. Those are the pluses.

But... this book suffers from what I've nicknamed the "Dan Brown syndrome" 132 chapters for 300 p
This book was a solid four-star book for me.

My favorite parts were the the setting of the book (Constantinople in the mid-1800s) and the book's main character, Yashim, a charming eunuch. I can tell that Goodwin loves the time and place he's writing about and he did an excellent job of convincing me to feel the same.

The part of the book that I found challenging (and probably kept it from being a five-star book for me) was the author's writing style. Even though I liked the style overall (it was
Perhaps it's because I'm heading to Istanbul soon, but I liked this very much. Goodwin's descriptions meant I could picture the characters, feel the cashmere, get stuck behind donkey carts and taste the food. The Janissary Tree interweaves mystery with spiced coffee, dastardly fiends and history lessons of a sort. What fun.
Great mysteries in an exotic setting with an intriguing protagonist. Delicious.
“The Janissary Tree” is an Ottoman detective thriller reminiscent of Orhan Pamuk’s wonderful “My Name Is Red,” though Pamuk’s novel is far more complex.

This novel is set in early 19th century Istanbul, ruled by Sultan Mahmut II. It is 1836 in Istanbul and Investigator Yashim Togalu, a eunuch in the employ of the seraskier (commander of Istanbul’s New Guard army) is presented with a problem: in ten days the seraskier’s New Guard is to be inspected by the Sultan, a young virgin in the Sultan’s ha
In THE JANISSARY TREE, Jason Goodwin introduces us to a fascinating character: Detective Yasmin, a man whose keen observations of the world around him bring to life the tumultuous era of 19th century Istanbul. Yasmin is a eunuch, but not without his own appetites; favored by the palace, he is called upon by the Sultan, who is on the cusp of introducing sweeping changes even as he dwells in an archaic system of officials, harem girls, indolence and stifling etiquette. But when the bodies of four ...more
I really enjoyed the first book in the series and the introduction to Yashim, the impromptu detective for the sultan and yes, a eunuch. The book was set in the Ottoman Empire in 1836 and you can tell the author knows his stuff. He really goes into great detail about the past history of the empire and how the Turks were trying to change with the influences of the European powers and modernize not only their culture, but also their military. Yashim is called to the palace by the commander of the N ...more
Set in the 1830s, Istanbul seems peaceful with exotic spices perfuming the air. But 4 cadets of the New Guard are missing and their general, the seraskier, seeks the assistance of Yashim lala, the stealthy guardian of security, a trusted eunuch approved by the Sultan and who has access to the harem. When one by one, 3 of the cadets are found dead and in very disturbing circumstances, Yashim realizes that their disappearance and also the methods by which they are killed and where they are found h ...more
In 1836 Istanbul, a court advisor and eunuch, Yashim, is asked to investigate two seemingly unrelated mysteries: the murder of one of the sultan’s odalisques and the theft of the jewels of the Valide Sultan (queen mother); and the abduction and grisly murders of five New Guards. Working with the seraskier, or commander in chief, Yashim begins to believe that the deposed and feared Janissaries are plotting a comeback.

The author, a historian and writer of Asian travel books, brings 19th century I
Goodwin, Jason. THE JANISSARY TREE. (2006). *****. This is an excellent debut novel from this British novelist who has previously written several books on the Ottoman Empire, in general, and on Istanbul, in particular. This is obviously the first novel in an intended series featuring his unusual protagonist, Inspector Yasim. Yasim is unusual in that he is a eunuch, and works for the Sultan. He is apparently not your usual eunuch, since he manages to have a sexual affair with the wife of the Russ ...more
An amazing first novel by an author who is very knowledgable about the history of this time. Don't expect a potboiler of a cloak-and dagger (turban and dagger?) detective story. Yes, there is a basic mystery that serves as the thread that holds the whole thing together, and the intrigue that it comes wrapped in would make a good story in almost any time or place.

However one of the pleasures of this series is the countless little insights into life (both for ordinary citizens and in the palace)
Beth Cato
Istanbul, the navel of the world, on the cusp of Europe and Asia. In 1836, the world is quickly modernizing, but the oldest of sins remains the same: murder. Specifically, four of the sultan's soldiers have vanished, and one found dead and trussed in a large kettle. At the same time, one of the harem girls is also found murdered. The sultan calls on the services of Inspector Yashim, a brilliant man - or somewhat of a man, as he's also a eunuch. Yashim's status brings him scorn, but also full acc ...more
Yashim, an investigator who can travel anywhere within the Ottoman Empire to solve murders, is the unlikely hero of this novel. Four officers of the new military disappear, bright intelligent young men all. When they turn up murdered in horrible ways Yashim finds the trail appears to lead to the Janissaries, a ruthless group of mercenaries who served as the empire's guards for four hundred years. Because he is a eunuch, he can even move within the sultan's harem if needed.

Yashim must discover wh
A reader can divide historical fiction into two kinds: the kind where you know the general outline of what happens historically, and the kind where you don't. The Janissary Tree was the second kind for me. I know almost nothing about the Ottoman Empire -- a few names, a smattering about the Crimean War and the empire's part in WWI, and the phrase "The Sick Man of Europe." That's about it. In addition, 1836, when the book is set, is a time even in European history about which I knew little. Well, ...more
Brett Bydairk
Istanbul in 1836. A mix of Turkish, French, Russian, and other nationalities. The arrogant Janissaries, the elite Turkish troops who had taken over the city they were sworn to protect, had been almost annihilated ten years previously. Almost. Many had run and hidden from the massacre, and had slowly found there way back, taking menial jobs to avoid notice.
Four members of the New Guard, which took the place of the Janissaries, have disappeared, and a body has turned up, the bones cooked clean. Ar
Nov 26, 2007 Linda rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history lovers who enjoy exotic locales.
Really a history lesson more than a compelling mystery. Yashim, the eunuch, employed by the sultan, lives in Istanbul of the 1830's. It is 10 years after the sultan destroyed the Janissaries. The Janissaries were an elite fighting corps within the Ottoman army made up of young captured Europeans. Initially very valiant and successful in Turkish battles, the group became corrupt as the empire stopped its expansion. So, the sultan burned all of them one night while they were in their barracks. (So ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Sultan's Seal (Kamil Pasha, #1)
  • Arabesk (Cetin Ikmen, #3)
  • Death of a Nationalist (Tejada, #1)
  • Interrupted Aria (Tito Amato, #1)
  • Firedrake's Eye (David Becket and Simon Ames, #1)
  • The Pericles Commission (The Athenian Mysteries, #1)
  • Constantinople: City of the World's Desire, 1453-1924
  • A Spectacle of Corruption (Benjamin Weaver, #2)
  • Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire
  • SPQR I: The King's Gambit
  • The White Rose Murders (Sir Roger Shallot, #1)
  • The Thief-Taker: Memoirs of a Bow Street Runner
  • Critique of Criminal Reason (Hanno Stiffeniis, #1)
  • The Tomb of Zeus (Laetitia Talbot, #1)
  • My Lady Judge (Burren Mysteries, #1)
  • To Shield the Queen (Ursula Blanchard, #1)
  • The Winter Queen (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #1)
  • The Fifth Servant
Jason Goodwin studied Byzantine history at Cambridge University - and returned to an old obsession to write The Gunpowder Gardens or, A Time For Tea: Travels in China and India in Search of Tea, which was shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Award. When the Berlin Wall fell, he walked from Poland to Istanbul to encounter the new European neighbours. His account of the journey, On Foot to the Golden Hor ...more
More about Jason Goodwin...

Other Books in the Series

Yashim the Eunuch (5 books)
  • The Snake Stone (Yashim the Eunuch, #2)
  • The Bellini Card (Yashim the Eunuch, #3)
  • An Evil Eye (Yashim the Eunuch, #4)
  • The Baklava Club

Share This Book

“Lufta nuk ka shumë rëndësi për një njeri. Një shqiptar se ka fare problem. Pyesni grekët.” 0 likes
More quotes…