The second installment in the Ottoman Quartet novels--the saga of Turkish history by Ahmet Altan--follows the vast and vivid cast of characters introduced in the first volume of the series, Like A Sword Wound. Altan evokes the traumas and upheavals of Ottoman history, showing how--over a hundred years later--the events and wounds of that time still resonate in the tensions and contradictions of today's Turkey.
Ahmet Altan is something of a master of the evocative opening line ... Although Love in the Days of Rebellion, the second installment in Ahmet Altan’s 'Ottoman Quartet', is a sequel to Like a Sword Wound, it can also be read alone ... Despite the political turmoil, the novel proceeds at a languid pace—at 500 pages, it is half again as long as the first volume. There is, as before, a cast of characters of Tolstoyan proportions ... In Altan’s world, love comes with loss, happiness is the cause of unhappiness, divorce can yield friendship, honor and conviction are conjoined with infidelity, error and uncertainty; there are always choices to be made ... Love in the Days of Rebellion is atmospheric, hypnotic, inevitable and sad, or perhaps triste, as Hikmet Bey would undoubtedly have put it. While it can be read on its own, the reader is likely to be drawn to the first volume, so one might as well start there.
Reading the newly released second volume of Altan’s Ottoman Quartet suggests that the death of his country’s old empire may shed light on the new ones that followed ... Altan’s lush swirl of intrigue and speculation is filtered through the consciousness of a reclusive modern-day citizen of Istanbul, holed up in his grandfather’s decaying mansion, channeling the stories of his ancestors and those who surrounded them. The action unfolds in the barracks of army officers and their troops, in the shadows of a monastery of Sufi dervishes, in the mansions of the often deeply corrupt upper classes and in the chambers of the sultan’s palace, where he indulges his fear of the dark and his hunger for gossip and rumor.
The second installment in a Godfather-level crime saga set in the Ottoman Empire ... a complex story ... The book is comparable to Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games (2006), not only in terms of its scope, but also in the depths of its characterization and the visceral tensions between characters. Osman’s connection with the dead brings in that little touch of magical realism that makes things cool. The political war games that constantly surround the crown give everything an extra bit of palpable menace. This book is just as piercing as the first in the series, Like a Sword Wound (2018), and readers would be well served by reading that one first. An ambitious and intelligent thriller about love and war.