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El Abisinio

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,100 ratings  ·  87 reviews
El hecho histórico que sirvió como fuente de inspiración a Jean-Christophe Rufin para escribir El abisinio fue la embajada de Abisinia organizada por el Rey Sol.

Esta epopeya barroca y poética tiene como protagonista a Jean-Baptiste Poncet, un joven medico perteneciente a la colonia francesa asentada en El Cairo, que ve truncada su tranquilidad al ser elegido como cabecilla
Hardcover, 494 pages
Published March 28th 1999 by Ediciones B (first published 1997)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  1,100 ratings  ·  87 reviews

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All the pleasures of an old-fashioned adventure novel that sees our intrepid hero bounding from the alleys of Ottoman Cairo to the highlands of Ethiopia, from the sombre court of the Sun King to the desert sands of Arabia. The presumed elegance of Rufin's prose is translated here by the wonderful Willard Wood into a highly polished, near-Victorian English. That was another of the sensory rewards of this book.

The tying up of various loose ends in the last 100 pages was a bit too pat, a bit too i
Apr 23, 2008 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
Jan 30, 2013 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
Feb 10, 2016 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
Mom pehrson
Sep 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one has it all. Drama, comedy, mystery, adventure, romance! Just a rattling good read.
Grace Tenkay
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was excellent. The way historical fiction should be. He takes you right into the place, time and culture with colorful language and descriptions. I will be reading more by Dr Rufin.
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
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good writing, very interesting characters and descriptive historical detail that transports the reader back in time. Really enjoyed it. I'll be reading more by the good doctor Rufin. ...more
Apr 20, 2008 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.
May 28, 2015 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.
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A highly entertaining novel of romance and adventure. Set in 1700, a young French informal doctor in Cairo falls in love with the consul's daughter, undertakes a dangerous journey to Abyssinia as an ambassador delivering a diplomatic message to the Ethiopian king from King Louis XIV of France, and then proceeds to Paris to give the Abyssinian's reply to King Louis XIV. There is much political intrigue, betrayal, and plans gone awry. The excellent translation give a sense of the verve and color o ...more
Edie Lew
Mar 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite written by Rufin, one of the founders of MSF and former president of Action Against Hunger. It's the story of a young Apothecarist in 18th century Cairo that is called upon to join an expedition to Ethiopia so the French can lay claim there. He falls in love of course and there's plenty of adventure. If you like the Count of Monte Christo, you'll like this. ...more
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Abyssinian is an amazing historical novel. I loved the characters and the adventurous plot. Even in translation, the prose is a delight to read. And I learned a lot about the religio-political relationships among France, Egypt, Abyssinia, and the Turkish Empire in the early 18th century.
Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical fiction, adventure story. Irritating case of love at first sight and a great distance. A pleasant read but unlikely to go back to it. He's better at male than female believable characters. ...more
Harry Heitman
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific book. Takes you back to that time and place in history in both detail, grandeur and squalor.
I'll definitely read more by Rufin.
Jazz Fan
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really liked this author's approach to historical fiction. Immersive and very nicely done. I'll read the sequel to this very soon. ...more
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Great historical fiction that takes you back to that period in history. Terrific writing.
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was really an unputdowntable story that mixes adventures and historical facts.

I really enjoyed it!
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More 4.5. We’ll written. Great story. New territory. Encourage all who love reading to try!!
Mar 01, 2017 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.
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
Feb 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, library
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
Jul 14, 2011 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
Dec 12, 2013 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
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
Sep 01, 2007 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. ...more
Aug 18, 2013 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.
Feb 01, 2010 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 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.
David Ratner
Sep 22, 2012 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.
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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 (Doctors without borders). 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 Par

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