The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer
1442: The Draculesti family rules Wallachia (modern-day Romania), the buffer between the Holy Roman Empire to the north and the Ottoman Empire to the south. The family patriarch, Dracul, finds his loyalties being torn apart. While his heart is with the Greeks, he is friends with the Catholic Hungarians, and he must honor an oath to the Ottoman Sultan. In the midst of these opposing forces, Dracul is concerned about a family malady which affects his middle son, Vlad, a sickness he once suffered from himself. In a search for answers, Dracul travels with his two youngest sons to Constantinople to review ancient texts that may have a clue about their family’s illness. On the way, however, Dracul’s caravan is intercepted by Ottoman soldiers and brought before the Sultan. Sultan Murad desires control over Constantinople, the Orthodox Greek capital. His hopes are on his son, Mehmet. To ensure Dracul’s fealty, Murad captures Dracul’s sons and keeps them as hostages. The two boys are quickly sent away to train to become servants of the Ottoman Empire.
Mehmet and Vlad were both born middle sons. Both feel they’re meant for more than their birth order has in store, and both sons have a dangerous secret. When Murad asks a soothsayer for advice, the fortunes revealed bring to light startling truths from the past as well as the future.
With a multifaceted narrative, diverse characters, and stunning historical detail, this book is completely absorbing. The author stirs together history, myth, political intrigue, and religious conflict to create a gripping, expertly researched story. Was it a curse, a medical condition, or the simple fears of local farmers that led to the legend of Count Dracula? See what you think after reading. Highly recommended.