Cover Image: The King at the Edge of the World

The King at the Edge of the World

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Member Reviews

While this book was not trudging monotony, it certainly wasn't one of my favorites either. Much like The Egyptologist, the book delivered loads of promises on the flyleaf but then ultimately failed to deliver the same amount of interest and intrigue in the body of the text.
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The King at the Edge of the World by Arthur Phillips is masterful in plot, characters and writing. It's a complex book of historical fiction that surprises the reader at many turns.  My only criticism is the pace became slow in the middle but was well-worth getting to the ending.  
 
The main character is an intelligent and philosophical Muslim Turkish physician that is left behind in England after coming as part of a diplomatic trip. The story takes place at the beginning of the 17th century while England is caught up in a religious battle between the Catholics and Protestants.  It's the end of Queen Elizabeth's Protestant regime and important people need to know if James VI of Scotland, an heir to the crown is truly a Protestant or a Catholic like his mother. The doctor is enlisted to find the answer.  

Other themes concerning prejudice, the many different paths our life can take, and how one decision can influence many others are explored in this extremely clever novel. I've read several other books by this author and none have disappointed me.  I highly recommend this book to others.  

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available to me.
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If television was around during the Elizabethan age, this book would have been the basis for England’s Tudor House of Cards. Fearful of King James and Catholicism, the spymasters send an Turkish emissary who has lived in England for many years to find out if James plans to make England Catholic after Elizabeth I’s death. This is an exciting historical fiction book, that will keep you guessing through its entirety. This is a very original take on Elizabethan history.  Calling this book a thriller wouldn’t be exaggerating.
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Long a fan of historical fiction, the Tudors specifically, this book tells of a plot to determine if James VI of Scotland is a good heir to the throne after Elizabeth I passes. Detailed and historically accurate, I enjoyed this book and recommend it.
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Let’s start with a few “givens”. Queen Elizabeth I was a formidable Monarch. There has been much speculation about her even so far as to suggest that she may have been a he. Unmarried, childless with her health and mind failing, her throne and kingdom are up for grabs.  Her family’s enmity – (after all Elizabeth had her first cousin beheaded) has allowed her advisors and spymasters to determine who will ascend the throne.

King James VI is rotting and plotting up in the Scottish Highlands just waiting for the time and opportunity to claim Elizabeth’s kingdom and throne. Small problem, King Jamie is thought to be a Catholic. Possible, very possible. His mother was devout as is his wife. So as in all things relating to politics and religion things are going to get very tricky, very messy and perhaps equally bloody.  Confusion abound, who is to be believed?

Does anybody remember that old high school lesson involving the literary technique of “in medias res”? This book will bring it all back in a heartbeat. Poor Dr Mahmoud Ezzedine, former doctor to the Sultan of Constantinople and presently responsible for the health of the travelling ambassador, finds himself duped and dumped in a “far-off, sunless, primitive, sodden, heathen kingdom”, which we know as jolly old England. Dr. Ezzedine, later to become known as Matthew Thatcher, is the heart and soul of this story. He is the sanity amidst all the gameplaying and royal shenanigans even as he is stupefied and ensnared by events beyond his understanding.  It is he who will create the deciding factor.

This was a very intriguing game of chess. The language, the twists and turns, the play on words and events, were the ultimate brain teaser. A week after finishing this book I admit to liking it far better than when I was reading it.

Thank you NetGalley and Random House for a copy.
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This story didn't hold my interest. It took me a very long time to read through Part 1 of the book (which is not that long) because the story wasn't engaging. As I continued reading past Part 1, so many characters were introduced that it was dizzying and hard to keep track of. The plot was confusing as well. I was really excited to read it because of the setting. 

DNF at 27%

I will not be posting this to my blog since it is a dnf.
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I don't know how to characterize this interesting and quite educational historical novel featuring Mahmoud, a Muslim physician who has been charged with determining whether King James of Scotland is truly a Protestant.  The 17th century (this is set as Queen Elizabeth is dying in 1601) was a hotbed of religious argument, political plotting, and spying.  If you've ever tried to untangle what was going on- or if you know the period well-this is the novel for you.  By using Mahmoud, an outsider if ever there was one, he has shined light on an era that was so tangled by mistrust and enmity that some of it lingers today.  Mahmoud's a terrific character.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  This is a little slow to start and still might be a bit much for the casual reader of historical fiction but it's darn good.
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A wonderful book of historical fiction .A book I really enjoyed an outsider in the English Courbkept me interested turning the pages.#netgalley#randomhouse
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Reading a novel by Arthur Phillips is, for me, always an intellectual treat. Although his books purport to be about one thing, subject, or time, it turns out that while one may be set in Victorian England or among Egyptologists hunting for ancient tombs, the plot is merely the lens through which Phillips asks the more important questions: What is true? When does ambition become madness? Why did it happen this way, or did it? In other words, Phillips' novels are deeper than they first appear, and if you're reading them for straight historical fiction, you're missing a lot. 

The King at the Edge of the World is the story of  Mahmud Ezzadine, a Turk, a physician, and a member of a diplomatic delegation sent to Queen Elizabeth's England I 1601. Elizabeth is aging and without an heir to the throne, the various contenders are lining up and jockeying for position. As the Catholic/Protestant wars still simmer under society, the world's spies are very, very busy. 

Although he wishes to be done with diplomacy and return home to his wife and young son , Ezzadine makes a mistake trading quips with Kit Marlowe and is blackmailed into staying in England, and is "gifted" to the Queen, caught in the whorls and shifting tides of diplomacy. For a decade, he goes where directed, converts to Protestant Christianity, and busies himself learning England's plants and their medicinal uses.  Eventually, he is recruited by Geoffrey Belloc to spy on the leading contender to the throne - James VI of Scotland - to determine whether James is, in his heart, truly a Protestant, or if he secretly still worships in his dastardly mother's Catholic ways. 

Those are the nuts and bolts, and if Phillips had left it there, the book would have been entertaining enough, with its spycraft and plant lore and allusions to the p.ays and players of the era, Shakespeare and Marlowe included. But no, Phillips pushes it further: We know the outcome, or think we do, but of all possible outcomes, which pivot points and plans got us there? Questions of identity and character arise as well: Who are we and how do we know?Are we the masks we put on or the parts we play, and at which point does one become the other? what is in one's Secret Heart, and does it matter?

Reading an Arthur Phillips novel is like working a puzzle - there are a demmed lot of pieces which fit together in myriad ways, and the picture that results is seldom the one you thought you were working on when you bought the thing. The view at the end is worth the work. 

(I received a free electronic ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review, in exchange for an honest review.)
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Thank you Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

1.5/5

These were my biggest issues with this book:

- Boring.
- Characters were dry.
- Each part changed perspectives to someone new.
- There was no plot.

Overall, it was just really dull and I couldn't care about it. Which is sad because it sounded super good.
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If you are looking for a historical fiction novel about Queen Elizabeth I that contains suspense, humor, mystery, and treachery - look no further. 

The King at the Edge of the World tells the story of Mahmoud Ezzedine, a Turkish doctor who spends time between the courts of Queen Elizabeth in England and King James VI in Scotland, on a mission to determine whether James is truly Protestant and fit to be Elizabeth's heir. 

 While that story itself  is enjoyment enough for any fan of historical fiction,  this book will also appeal to readers who enjoy mysteries, and books that have deeper stories hidden beneath the main storyline. This book also explores the questions of identity and faith. 

While some parts were a little slow and tougher to get through,  the majority of the book was absolutely riveting. 

This review will also be posted on Instagram @rosetree_bookreviewer.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm definitely having luck with my historical fiction choices these last few days. 

Thank you netgalley and publisher for the free review copy
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Not the plot-driven historical intrigue I was expecting, The King at the Edge of the World is as much (maybe more) of a meditation on identity, and how crucial self-identity is to one's happiness, as it is about a plot to ascertain whether James VI of Scotland is Catholic or Protestant. I'll admit that some of Mahmoud/Matthew's internal angst seemed to be belaboring the point and while beautifully written, had me skimming over the paragraphs. But the characters and settings were vivid, and the story rich with intriguing twists. This is a book that will stick with me.

Thank you, NetGalley and Random House, for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This may be jumping the gun a bit, but even as I preview The King at the Edge of the World in November of 2019, I feel certain that it will wind up on my "Best Books of 2020" list. The King at the Edge of the World works as historical fiction, but it also works as a novel exploring issues of identity and the myriad possible lives any individual might live.

Mahmoud Ezzedine is a physician on a diplomatic mission from the Ottoman Empire to the England of Elizabeth I. Though technically a free man, he finds himself being passed from one new master to the next as first the Ottoman delegation and later figures in Elizabeth's England gift him to one master after another. He makes his way gradually northward, until he arrives at the court of James VI of Scotland (soon to become James I of England). Here, he is technically the gift of a nobleman to the Scottish king, but the spy masters of Elizabeth's England have charged him with determining whether James is truly Protestant and, therefore, fit to be the heir of Elizabeth I.

This tale in itself is engaging, but the entree Phillips gives us into Ezzedine's inner life takes the book to a level of richness that is relatively rare in historical fiction.

This is a title that will speak to a variety of readers: those who enjoy historical fiction, those who enjoy mysteries, those who appreciate a book that wrestles with questions of faith and identity, and those who prefer titles that have a vision beyond a single narrative line. Keep an eye out for The King at the Edge of the World, and give yourself the gift of reading it as soon as you have the chance.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for providing me with an advanced copy of this book for review. 
"The King at the Edge of the World" is a novel about a Turkish doctor who is caught up in intrigue between the courts of Queen Elizabeth in England and King James VI in Scotland. It is such a unique story, which is rare in historical fiction. If I had to compare it to something I would call it a cross between "Wolf Hall" and "The Luminaries." My only quibble is one section of the book departed from Dr. Ezzadine's perspective; I did not enjoy that section nearly as much, and found it random since it only happened once. But otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed the book, was very impressed with the writing, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys more literary historical fiction.
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I have read a lot of books set in/around Elizabeth I reign and I enjoyed this one as it was an outsiders look at the English  court.  There were parts a tad on the slow side but I didn't notice them so much in the later half of the book.
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Arthur Phillips historical novel is as much a stimulant to thought, as it is a story of an Elizabethan spy-master and his unlikely recruit.  For fans of traditional historical fiction, it may work well as a romp through the "vetting" of a potential successor to the aging Elizabeth I, but for me the book was most note-worthy as a rumination on illusion vs. reality; religious intolerance; and dedication to personal integrity. 

I like a book that doesn't feed me all the answers, and THE KING at the EDGE OF THE WORLD definitely does not . . . . . I found myself wool-gathering as I read it and my thoughts centered on the current political situation and our intolerance for those who have other views . . . . for that, I think the novel is note-worthy.  I enjoyed the thoughts it provoked more than the story that stimulated the thought, but perhaps that is the point of good fiction. Make the reader think. . . . and Mr. Phillips has done that.
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The story started out really slow and I was beginning to think that it would be a book I did not finish and it suddenly starts galloping! The story is about a Turkish doctor who spies on James VI to find out if he leans Protestant or Catholic.Funny and witty with a few twists I am so glad I ploughed through the slow start.
Thankyou Netgalley for this ARC
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The King at the Edge of the World by Arthur Phillips is an ingenious, witty, historical fiction that starts out on the slower side, but becomes rich with layers and complexities that make the novel a pure joy to read. This book is witty, complex, fascinating, and leaves the reader wanting more. 

The main character, a Turkish physician that is left behind after being a part of the Turkish ambassador’s entourage in a diplomatic trip to England at the beginning of the 17th century, is thrust into the middle of the political/religious upheaval  that is still consuming life in England toward the end of Queen Elizabeth’s Protestant reign. 

Dr. Ezzedine ensnared into this hot mess, is to spy on James VI in  Scotland, and to find if he is truly a practicing Catholic or a Protestant. 

 I will leave the summary here for the reader, as they can find out further premise themselves without giving away the entire plot/finish here in my review. 

The great thing about this piece is that it does intertwine with “actual history”, and I feel it makes for an even better read. The author is able to weave this fictional tale amongst real historical events, leaving the reader feel as if this could have actually happened. 
It was a great read, and I highly recommend this fascinating HF. 

5/5 stars

Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing for this great ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

This is posted to my GR account immediately and will post to my Amazon, Bookbub, and B&N accounts upon publication.
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This book sneaks up on you. It starts out with the Turkish ambassador and his retinue visiting England and Queen Elizabeth on a state visit. Among the retinue is a the ambassador’s doctor. I did not know which way the book would go, but without giving too much away, the doctor allegedly converts to Christianity and is sent as a spy to Scotland to help the English determine if James I is catholic or protestant. If this sounds rather dry and unexciting, you would be wrong. Phillips imbues this unlikely tale with humor, suspense and surprises. The book is extraordinarily well written and the history is excellent. Really good historical fiction is hard to find. Look no further. Highly recommended.
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