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The Architect's Apprentice

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3.98  ·  Rating details ·  12,606 ratings  ·  1,756 reviews
From the acclaimed author of The Bastard of Istanbul, a colorful, magical tale set during the height of the Ottoman Empire

In her latest novel, Elif Shafak spins an epic tale spanning nearly a century in the life of the Ottoman Empire. In 1540, twelve-year-old Jahan arrives in Istanbul. As an animal tamer in the sultan’s menagerie, he looks after the exceptionally smart
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Hardcover, 432 pages
Published March 31st 2015 by Viking (first published December 13th 2013)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Ibrahim
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scanned
The Architect's Apprentice is the latest historical novel by Turkish author Elif Shafak The author said that that a 1559 painting of Sultan Sulieman standing, an elephant in the background was the inspiration of the novel.



The story goes as the indian boy Jahan sneaks into a ship that traveled to istanbul to deliver an "elephant" a gift from the Maharaja to the Sultan. Then he became the tamer of the elephant at the Sultan's Palace.

The elephant then joins the chief Ottoman Architect Sinan, to
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Chrissie
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow, how to best describe his book?!

This book is special. It has:

-stunning writing that stretches how you see the world around you. It gets you thinking in new ways, comparing Eastern versus Western modes of reasoning.

-exciting events. I thought the book was going to end and then realized there were three hours left. There was much more to what had happened than I had realized! I came to understand I needed to know much more.

-the feel, it captures the atmosphere, of Istanbul in the 1500s. A
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Mike
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
First, let's bask in the beauty of the cover:

description

Quite a sight, isn't it?

Anyway, this book reminded me a lot of The Golem and the Jinni (tGatJ). They are both historical fictions that take place in cosmopolitan cities told through the eyes of immigrants. In this case an Indian elephant trainer, Jahan, arriving in Ottoman Istanbul with a gift for Suleiman the Magnificent from a foreign Shah. We see the fascinating world of 16th and early 17th century Istanbul through his eyes as Jahan is taken under
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Ana
I cannot even begin to express how absolutely beautiful this book is. Everything, from the writing to the historical background, is so sublimely put to paper, it touches the reader so many times, that this has become one of those works for which I find myself incapable of conjuring enough words of praise. I have cried two times during the story, which says a lot about how delicately it tugs at your heartstrings making beauty out of every ugly feeling that it touches. I wish I could retain every ...more
Roger Brunyate
Episodic. Informative, often fun, but still episodic

My wife, who has been reading this in tandem with me for a book club, made the most generous and perceptive remark. “Shafak is obviously channeling an earlier tradition of oral storytelling,” she said, “and her book should be judged accordingly.” She is right. This sprawling story of Jahan, an Indian boy who arrives in Istanbul at the height of the Ottoman Empire as the mahout for a white elephant and stays to become a favored apprentice of the
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Zanna
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This novel has poetry under its skin; without being direct about it, Shafak beguilingly invites you to experience life as a poem
When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy -Rumi
This subtle narrative sensibility transforms events into gestures behind my eyes like a dance. Poetry is a retreat for me, a consolation, and so I found this book, reassuringly long, consoling, passing-sweet like the cherry blossoms that opened and fell around London while I was reading it.
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Ace
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge
We live, toil and die under the same invisible dome. Rich and poor, Mohammedan and baptized, free and slave, man and woman, Sultan and mahout, master and apprentice … I have come to believe that if there is one shape that reaches out to all of us, it is the dome. That is where all the distinctions disappear and every single sound, whether of joy or sorrow, merges into one huge silence of all-encompassing love. When I think of this world in such a way, I feel dazed and disoriented, and cannot ...more
Victoria
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I’ve challenged myself to read more books by International authors, I think it makes my world more expansive, it requires a certain sensibility. And not just Irish mysteries or Swedish stories about quirky geriatrics, though they are highly entertaining, but more literature with a capital L. So when The Architect’s Apprentice started popping up on must read lists, I stepped right up. I like my history with a side of fiction and given architecture is at this novel’s heart, I was sold.

What I found
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Shaimaa Ali
"May the world flow like water," Sinan used to say. I can only hope that this story, too, will flow like water in the hearts of its readers. -- Elif Shafak about "The Architect's Apprentice"

That was the last phrase in the author's note, and for that & for many other reasons I gave it that rating!
The novel is huge (452 pages), to keep reading such a lengthy work you need it to be flawless ..this novel definitely lacks that style!
While the characters are well-illustrated, it lacks the thrill
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Reem Ghabbany
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THIS BOOK WAS SO FREAKING GOOD!! I DIDN'T HESITATE NOT EVEN FOR A MOMENT WHEN I DECIDED TO GIVE IT 5 STARS
THIS IS MY FAVORITE READ OF THE YEAR.
THIS WAS A JUST A MAGICAL READ THAT CONTAINED EVERYTHING I WISH FOR IN A BOOK
THERE IS ZERO FLAW IN THIS BOOK!!!!! ZERO PEOPLE

so now that I've calmed.
the story follows the life of an Indian boy named Jahan who escapes, with an elephant, his abusive stepfather to Istanbul. Jahan was many things but mostly he was a Mahout first and Architect second.
in a
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Aman
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is one of the few books I've read and was immediately sucked into the story ,it delivers in rich details what Istanbul was like in the 1500s under the reign of the most powerful Ottoman sultan
We follow jahan a young boy who escaped from home and his elephant chota.though the story stretches on a long period of time which is the life of jahan until he is very old I found it very enjoyable and it didn't get boring in any part.
the book isn't mainly about architecture though it is present
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Rincey
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Calzean
Good historical fiction allows the author to realistically recreate another time and another place revolving around known or little known people. This book revolves around Mimar Sinar the Royal Architect for Suleiman the Magnificent, Selim II, and Murad III and his four fictional apprentices.
I was not aware of the scope of Sinar's achievements and for this the book provides a good overview of his life.
However, the story of Jahan the mahout who becomes one of the apprentices, breaks a number of
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Ann (Inky)
“They should all be sound asleep at so late an hour -- the humans, the animals, the djinn. In the city of seven hills, other than the watchmen on the streets making their rounds, only two kinds of people would be awake now: those who were praying and those who were sinning.”


A magnificently epic story about a man’s life from beginning to end: living in ancient Istanbul, a witness of the Ottoman rising to its glorious and bloody height as well as the beginning of its downfall. We follow Jahan
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Jalilah
The Architect's Apprentice is based on the real life person Mimar Sinan, the most famous architect of the Ottoman era. The story is told through the point of view of his apprentice, the fictitious character Jahan. Sinan's work has been compared to the genius work of Italian architect and engineer Michelangelo.
In 1540 12 year old Jahan arrives in Istanbul from India with a gift for the Sultan Suleiman,(aka Suleiman the Magnificent), a white elephant named Chota.
Like several of her other
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Tova
HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS WAS A THING! THIS IS LITERALLY ALL I COULD ASK FOR! ELIF SHAFAK WRITING A BOOK THAT INCLUDES MY FAVORITE SULTAN (SULEIMAN), MY LEAST FAVORITE SULTAN (SELIM), MY SUN AND MOON (MIHIRIMAH) + MAYBE A BUNCH OF MY OTHER BABES (BAYEZID, CIHANGIR, MUSTAFA, MEHMET, HURREM, MAHIDEVRAN ETC.) IT'S SET IN 1500 OTTOMAN EMPIRE! God, I needed this book in my life yesterday. This is all I could ever want. Thank you elif from the bottom of my heart.
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That was lovely. A bit slow, and Elif
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Mehvish
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So glad that I started the new year with this book, even more so because this is the book that I had received as a gift from a very good friend of mine.

I loved the cover, it is gorgeous, the turquoise and gold is very inviting.

Quite tempted to give it 5 stars, but I am deducting one because it gets kind of boring in the middle.

All in all, the book is beautiful. Elif Shafak is a brilliant storyteller. Give it a read!
Fatima
May 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What can I say about Elif Shafak other than a beautiful writer who sucks the reader into her stories regardless of the setting.... Having read a third book by Shafak, her versatility as an author has been proven. A must-read.
Moby
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If this a memoir then it would be a perfect journey of Jahan Khan Rumi. Taking my sweet time with the reading, delving in with every words-- before Jahan became the apprentice to an apprentice, love and sorrow, desire and jealousy, the life of the king from the start to the end. Every chapter and paragraph was written so beautiful, it feels like Chota was mine as well.

I love the part when Jahan was taken to the dungeons of the Fortress of Seven Towers where he accidentally met Balaban again--
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Diane
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
I saw this novel reviewed pretty glowingly, in the New York Times. I love historical fiction and I haven't read much on 16th Century Istanbul, so I was excited to give it a try. I started to read and was immediately captivated by the introduction, where Jahan (our Architect's Apprentice) has witnessed the disposal of a number of bodies at the palace where he lives and works.

There were hints at a great love that went unfulfilled...yay! There was the idea that this man had risen from being an
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Zahra
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A character-driven novel, The Architect’s Apprentice is led chiefly by Jahan- an Indian who sets sail for the Ottoman land with an elephant in tow. It is a white elephant nonetheless, perhaps a metaphor for unspoken truths that line the plot at various points in the book.

Escaping a cruel step-father and the sorrow of a dead mother, Jahan sets foot in Istanbul as a mahout and makes the city his home for the next fifty years- ending up as an apprentice to the historical Master Sinan, Chief Royal
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Kelley
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
ARC received courtesy of Goodreads.com giveaway

I loved this book! It was an historical novel with a love story and a mystery. I had never read much about the Ottoman empire so the novel was a new part of history for me. At this beginning of this time, the 1500's, the Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived together in peace. The architect, Sinan, kept opining that all people are of equal value--regardless of religion, ethnicity or economic worth. The elephant, Chota, belonged to the main character,
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Stephen
enjoyable read based in 16th century ottoman empire in whats now instanbul where chota the elephant arrives with his keeper as a gift to the sultan from the shah and we follow the story of both of them through court politics with different sultans. felt however the story did get bogged down in the middle and could of been slightly shorter.
Liviu
historical fiction spanning a long period of time and done very well, but still having the inherent weaknesses of books that skip years fast (usually people change a lot in time while in such books, they do not change that much, so the passing of time is very little felt)
Teynidhi Ramsewak
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
“It's odd how faces, solid and visible as they are, evaporate, while words, made of breath, stay.”
It's pretty amazing how soothing and melancholic Elif shafak's books are...they all remind me of a forlorn lullaby hummed by a mother to her sick child on a cold wintry day.
Khyati Gulati Tewari
I start reading the book, the first chapter - a flurry of activities - to reveal a secret, a secret of deaths. I knew, this book was going to be an amazing read. And then I read further. Frame changed to the past - I knew, the background buildup was necessary for the story to properly unfold. So I kept my patience and I kept reading.

But then, it just dragged on and on. Somethings were discussed in grave detail, I mean the work in progress. Being an architect, that was fine with me - for I enjoy
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Dzenana Brkic
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Yes, why would anyone be ashamed of love?"

If every book was beautiful like this one, I would never stop reading, and I'd make sure everyone reads them. Elif Shafak made me speechless again. This book is too wonderful. There are so many emotions in the book. It was so interesting to read about Sinan and all other characters. After I finished reading the book, I started to read it again. And, here I am, having read it twice in a few days, finding no words to describe how good it was.

The book is
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Jane
Unusual novel with an unusual setting and protagonist. 16th century Istanbul: Jahan has arrived from India, as the caretaker of a white elephant, Chota [Little]. The elephant is a gift from the Shah to the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Jahan becomes also the apprentice to the famous Ottoman architect, Sinan. With other apprentices, workmen, and Chota hauling material, they aid Sinan in building his impressive mosques, aqueducts and other structures. Jahan suffers unquited love of the sultan's ...more
Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk)
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was simply mesmerized by this beautiful novel that reminded me of Sheherazade's stories. It is a story of a boy that will become a great architect one day, however it is not him that is most important. It the city, its people and architecture that counts. It is rich, full of warm and amazing detail. A pure pearl for everyone who adores Middle Eastern magic and great storytelling.
Natasa
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating story of Istanbul in the time of Suleiman the Magnificent.Wonderful characters, well developed and interesting. The only reason I’m only giving four stars instead of five is that there were parts of the story I felt were left undone.
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Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels. Her work has been translated into fifty languages. Shafak holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK, including St Anne's ...more
“Some cities you go to because you want to; some cities you go to because they want you to.” 167 likes
“Sometimes, for the soul to thrive, the heart needs to be broken, son.” 63 likes
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