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The Dervish House

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,416 Ratings  ·  407 Reviews
It is after the hour of prayer but not yet the hour of money. Istanbul, Queen of Cities, wakes with a shout.

The explosion goes almost unnoticed in the greater roar of the waking city. A flat crack. Then silence.

In the sleepy Istanbul district of Eskikay stands the former whirling dervish house of Adem Dede. Over the space of five days of an Istanbul heat wave, these lives
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Paperback, 480 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by Gollancz (first published February 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jacob
Jul 15, 2010 Jacob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
July 2010

Oh, my. That's a beautiful cover. I think I'll have to read this.

I know, I know, judging books by covers is a bad thing and I shouldn’t do it. This is why I haven’t read "...And Ladies of the Club", Helen Hooven Santmyer’s epic noviel about a reading group. Sure, it sounds like it might be interesting, but it also looks like a cheap romance novel, so no deal. I’ll wait a few years for the vampire/zombie/monster mash-up, hopefully titled "...And Ladies of the Stake." But Ian McDonald has
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Jason Pettus
Jul 23, 2010 Jason Pettus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

(This is being published today for the first time in honor of "Ian McDonald Week" at CCLaP. For an overview of all the content regarding McDonald being posted here this week, you can click here.)

So what exactly are we talking about, anyway, when we talk about "cyberpunk," the subgenre in science-fiction t
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Kathryn
Oct 08, 2011 Kathryn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I couldn’t even finish The Dervish House. I got about 40 pages in (a full ten percent) and dropped it. A ton of characters were introduced, but not a single one succeeded in getting my attention or sympathy. I liked the setting (Istanbul), but got very, very tired of the would-be poetic description. The author went on for pages – in flowery present tense – about everything. Fireworks took ten pages to go off, and internal monologues lasted for three or four pages in the middle of dialogue. All i ...more
Ben Babcock
I didn't want to give this book five stars, but Ian McDonald hacked my brain. I had heard enough about The Dervish House—my first novel by McDonald, incidentally—to be fairly confident I would like it. Yet it is not the sort of novel that inspires love at first sight; rather, it tantalizes, flirts, and seduces its way into your heart. It accomplishes this through McDonald's style, the way he describes the city of Instanbul, invites us into its streets and its politics and the eponymous apartment ...more
Stefan
Jul 08, 2010 Stefan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Necdet, a troubled young man, is witness to what looks like a botched suicide bombing on a crowded city tram; afterwards, he starts seeing djinn and other supernatural creatures. Can, a nine year old boy with an amazing robotic toy — and a heart condition that confines him to a silent world — accidentally becomes involved in the intrigue. Ayse, a gallery owner, is contracted to find a mysterious and elusive relic, while her boyfriend Adnan, a successful trader, works on his own scheme to become ...more
Erin Lale
I received an electronic copy of this book in my Hugo voter packet. So I was reading it with an eye to seeing if it deserved an award, and I was holding it to a high standard. That may be why I was so disappointed.

This book has some really good ideas: original, sf'nal, even hard. Unfortunately, the reader has to plow through 250 pages of lead-up to get to them. Up until that point, this could have been written as a mainstream novel, and the sf elements could have been eliminated in under a minu
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Michael
This wonderful book felt played like a symphony of multiple themes spun out by six key characters that slowly converge on a common narrative. The novel is so embedded in the cultures of Istanbul that Istanbul itself becomes a key character itself. Set in the year 2027, the scene is just around the corner, and the story often doesn’t appear to be science fiction. Yet McDonald projects some disturbing progressions for the science of nanotechnology, and the crises faced by most of the key character ...more
Ric
Feb 22, 2014 Ric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An n-dimensional, immersive SF novel about the dervishes in 2027 Istanbul. It's a totally engrossing book that demands reader attention, not a casual book to go through on a quick read. Not to say that this is some scholarly tome weighty with its own self importance but rather Ian McDonald attempts to fill this with very accessible characters striving for very real dreams --- the options trader hopped up on nanodrugs to get the edge in the financial world, the antiquities dealer following arcane ...more
Jeannette Nikolova
SO BORING!

There, I wrote that. Even if you don't read the rest of the review, you would at least know my opinion.
It was a very boring account of events nobody cares about. Seeing all of the five-star reviews on its page, I cannot help but think that this is one of those books that people claim to love because someone at some point said that it's genius and suddenly people like it so much.
I was frustrated throughout the whole thing. The author, for unknown reasons, decides to write half the boo
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Chloe
One of my favorite aspects of good science fiction is its ability to peer into its murky scrying bowl and divine absorbing pictures of possible futures based on current trends, cultural histories, and good old-fashioned chance happenings. Through such activities we are able to look at possible futures for ourselves and society and attempt to sway events accordingly. Unfortunately so much science fiction is written by white, comparatively affluent, straight men that this practice can lend itself ...more
Jim
Nov 05, 2011 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jim by: Cindy
For me, this incredible book is as near to perfection as I am ever likely to see. This could be my template for a five-star book – a definite masterpiece. Having just read another classic that also pushed onto my all-time favorites list – Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita – I was struck by just how completely the great writers can take possession of your mind and your life. All they require is some of those too-brief periods when you can sit and really concentrate on their wondrous stories and ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is the last of the Hugo-nominated novels for this year, and wow did I save the best for last.

The Dervish House is everything I always hope for when I open a William Gibson novel, and was so pleased to find here. Cyberpunk, sure, but in this incredibly vibrant setting (Turkey right after it has joined the EU) with a lot of sub-plots (Mellified Man, Nano Terrorism, ancient artifacts, insider trading, kind of, a clever boy and his bots).

One thing I love is McDonald's writing. Here's an exampl
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Dawn Marie
Jul 13, 2012 Dawn Marie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
Although a geek girl at heart, I’ve never really read a great deal of Science Fiction. Some Bradbury, a dash of Heinlein, a little Gibson, fair bit of LeGuin, but not enough. Of what I read of Bradbury, I loved Dandelion Wine the best – a glass of nostalgic strawberry lemonade – sweet as childhood memory, with a metallic tang of old-school horror. Heinlein seemed to really, really like porn (and his mom, apparently?), and I can respect that, but I can’t say I enjoyed his work. Gibson caught my e ...more
Richard
Aug 20, 2011 Richard rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
A twisting dance as six stories entwine in the heart of near future Istanbul. The old world and the ultra new, the ancient and the nascent future whirl together around the old Dervish House in Adem Dede Square.
Heat struck Istanbul, at once archaic and enigmatic then industrial and grimy, but also thrusting and modern, the palpitating heart of new European future Turkey, the crossroads of East and West, makes a fascinating and atmospheric setting as the stories spiral ever faster around each oth
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Genia Lukin
Jun 05, 2012 Genia Lukin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I am going to go out of my way and say that this is not a bad book at all. It's actually quite well-written, and the atmosphere the author creates is engaging and vivacious. The science-fiction elements are quite well-done, the cyberpunk feel is very much in place, the city of Istanbul is interesting...

Sadly, there were a couple places where the novel really fell flat for me; and these flat places completely ruined my experience, to the point where I found myself skimming more than I was reading
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Alexandra
May 28, 2011 Alexandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
I have long been enamoured of Turkey. Actually, strictly speaking I have long been enamoured of the idea of Turkey: the decadence, the luxury, the it’s very different there. Over the last number of years I have come to the realisation that this idea, or dream, of the country is a very European one, and a very colonial one in many regards – it’s a view of “the East” that has existed in “the West” at least since the Romans had their snooty ideas about Egypt and Persia. Despite being well aware of ...more
James
I nearly didn't read this book. The sample failed to interest me. In fact it seemed so over-written and dense that I wasn't sure what the book was about after the better part of the first chapter. However, in-part because the book was Hugo nominated and in-part because it was the io9.com book club read for the month I persevered and bought the book.

Rereading the first chapter made a lot more sense the second time around, and almost the very next page after the sample had ended the book came aliv
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Maree
Aug 22, 2011 Maree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book took me a long time to read, was mildly interesting throughout, and much better now that I'm not reading but reflecting back on it. It was a great story and I loved how everything was woven together through the stories and the character, but it seems to me, especially with the end, that this is a story about Istanbul, not about any of the characters.

It was a very complex novel, which makes it difficult for me to break down in any meaningful way all that was happening all at the same ti
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Ecehan
Feb 20, 2015 Ecehan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Dervish House is beyond my expectations , I really enjoyed it . As a matter of fact , it carried me away so much because of the location .Istanbul is my hometown and the author realistically describes Istanbul ; even though he does not live there or speak Turkish ...
While it is labeled "science fiction", there are several interesting subjects in this book such as Islamic mysticism , nanotechnology, terrorism and economics; it made me curious which is a very good sign for me as a reader…
By the wa
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Barry King
Jun 29, 2014 Barry King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of a growing trend of very finely written, well researched novels, that, if it had dealt with any other topic than genre, stands shoulders above most mainstream fiction. It centres its narrative around the title location, an old tekke in Istanbul where all the main characters reside or hold shop. It is a love story on several levels: old love regained, old love reborn, love of the world rising through adversity, and love of God realized in the atoms of the universe. But most of all, ...more
Jenine
May 07, 2012 Jenine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Ian McDonald's writing, he never makes it easy. The shape of the story evolves slowly through the book. It can be a little frustrating, you find yourself halfway through a book and still not sure what the story is ABOUT. (Mars Express, River of Gods) But when everything comes together, it comes together beautifully. The trick with Dervish house (this may require SPOILER ALERT, but I think knowing this might help someone new to IMD enjoy his books) is to understand that the two main charac ...more
Kim

It's taken me quite a while to finish reading this novel. I came close to abandoning it a few times because I didn't see where it was going and - more particularly - I was having difficulty caring about the characters. However, it eventually started coming together. It even became a bit of a page turner and, surprisingly, I ended up caring about the characters more than I ever thought I could.

Set in Istanbul in the near future, The Dervish House centres on a number of people who live or work in
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Clay Kallam
Jan 28, 2011 Clay Kallam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Maybe it just seems that way, but I have to think there were more books like Ian McDonald’s excellent “The Dervish House” (Pyr, $26, 358 pages) back in the day.

“The Dervish House,” set in Istanbul in the near future, combines science (and comprehensible science, no less), fiction (fleshed-out, flawed but sympathetic characters) and a complex, satisfying plot that keeps the pages turning. We’ve got terrorists, high-level business deals, an intriguing future, romance, a Boy Detective, all handled
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Carson Kicklighter
Oct 11, 2014 Carson Kicklighter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
Hugo-nominee The Dervish House is captivating because of its authentic, copious, engaging details. It’s satisfying and thought-provoking because it interweaves themes and motifs into a steadily moving plot.

I’ve never read a near-future sci-fi book set in Instanbul, so I was fascinated by the cultural mix of Greeks, Turks, and Eastern Europeans. Home, food, politics, lifestyle: Ian McDonald paints them all with vivid, specific details. Unfortunately, these details often slow down the book and mak
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Jacqie
Jun 20, 2012 Jacqie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still not sure what to say about this book, but I guess I'm going to say it anyway.

This was not an easy book to read. I found myself reading at about half my normal reading pace. I don't think the plot was so difficult to follow, I think that I was trying to pronounce things in Turkish in my head the whole book, which slowed me down. The book felt quite fragmented at the beginning, since we've got half a dozen POV characters and we're not sure what the information we're getting from one pers
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Alan
Dec 20, 2010 Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of complexity
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work; res ipsa loquitur
The Dervish House gives the impression that it could easily be as messy, sprawling and complex as Istanbul itself. It can't, of course; no single work of fiction could approach the complexity of even the most modern and mundane of cities, much less the ancient metropolis that stands at the crossroads between Asia and Europe. But after a leisurely start, The Dervish House ended up being amazing anyway.

Complex and multithreaded, this novel defies easy synopsis. Its plot is a mix of ancient and mod
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Patrick
Dec 31, 2011 Patrick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Set in a futuristic Turkey where nanobots are in demand, clean gas is the king, and where people gamble on terror attacks The Dervish House is a good example of a good idea ruined.

This was my first novel by Ian McDonald and I don't think I'll read another. I found a very dry and uninteresting narrative with only one character (out of six) that I cared about. That one was the Boy Detective who couldn't hear loud noises. The rest were fairly unbelievable in their reactions, flat, and their motives
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Mark
Jul 15, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britishsci-fi
When I finish a book and feel the pain of regret and loss, it's usually because the characters were so wonderful, so rich, and so memorable that they had become part of my life. In The Dervish House, the characters are wonderful, but it's the Queen City of Istanbul and the way that Ian McDonald has drawn it that I'll remember forever.

One of the things I liked about this is that it's so un-American and un-Western. The west does not hold a monopoly on science fiction, yet it often seems that way.
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smboro
Dec 18, 2011 smboro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book very much, it reads the way great and unforgettable movies play. The chapters start like transitioning scenes and with enough details to keep the movie playing even if you haven't read the book for a couple of days. Also, the book wants you to commit before it starts (I think that's the Muslim way) with introducing the Turkish alphabet and then having people's names, food, places, and geography not-translated. The whole story is a fascinating near feature scenario. I hope thi ...more
Sarah
Jun 28, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McDonald seamlessly weaves together the unique politics of the time, as well as religious influences, cultural issues and technological advances, creating an incredible hodge-podge of future Istanbul, Turkey. The Dervish House is an aggressive, thought provoking work filled with the humanizing tales of six different, yet entwined individuals. The plot does take some effort to get into and some of the individual stories aren’t as appealing as others, but on the whole The Dervish House is a worthy ...more
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Ian Neil McDonald was born in 1960 in Manchester, England, to an Irish mother and a Scottish father. He moved with his family to Northern Ireland in 1965. He used to live in a house built in the back garden of C. S. Lewis’s childhood home but has since moved to central Belfast, where he now lives, exploring interests like cats, contemplative religion, bonsai, bicycles, and comic-book collecting. H ...more
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“He's never fought with religion; what is the point of railing against such beauty, such intimate theatre, such chime of eternity? He can treasure it without believing in it.” 7 likes
“You collect art: you must know that the miniature artists, at the end of careers spent painting the tiniest, most exacting details that no one would ever look at, would often put their eyes out with needles. Too much beauty, yes, but also too much seeing. They were tired of seeing. The dark was safe and warm and comfortable. Blindness was a gift. I still have seeing to do.” 5 likes
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