The Lion House
“Christopher de Bellaigue has a magic talent for writing history. It is as if we are there as the era of Suleyman the Magnificent unfolds.” —Orhan Pamuk, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
Narrated through the eyes of the intimates of Suleyman the Magnificent, the sixteenth-century sultan of the Ottoman Empire, The Lion House animates with stunning immediacy the fears and stratagems of those brought into orbit around him: the Greek slave who becomes his Grand Vizier, the Venetian jewel dealer who acts as his go-between, the Russian consort who becomes his most beloved wife.
Within a decade and a half, Suleyman held dominion over twenty-five million souls, from Baghdad to the walls of Vienna, and with the help of his brilliant pirate commander, Barbarossa, placed more Christians than ever before or since under Muslim rule. And yet the real drama takes place in close-up: in small rooms and whispered conversations, behind the curtain of power, where the sultan sleeps head-to-toe with his best friend and eats from wooden spoons with his baby boy.
In The Lion House, Christopher de Bellaigue tells the story not just of rival superpowers in an existential duel, nor of one of the most consequential lives in human history, but of what it means to live in a time when a few men get to decide the fate of the world.