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By Matthew Reilly

“A whole success…action fanatics and PBS varieties can percentage their enthusiasm” (Booklist, starred overview) whilst a tender Queen Elizabeth I is thrust right into a gripping video game of deception and lust on the top of the Ottoman Empire during this edge-of-your-seat old mystery from the New York instances bestselling writer of The nice Zoo of China and Temple.

The 12 months is 1546, and Suleiman the fantastic, the scary Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, matters a call for participation to each king in Europe: You are invited to ship your most interesting participant to compete in a chess event to figure out the champion of the recognized world.

Thousands converge on Constantinople, together with the English court’s champion and his advisor, the esteemed pupil Roger Ascham. Seeing an opportunity to enlighten the brain of a scholar, Ascham brings alongside Elizabeth Tudor, a super younger lady now not but fed on through royal tasks in Henry VIII’s court.

Yet at the commencing evening of the event, a robust visitor of the Sultan is murdered. quickly, barbaric deaths, diplomatic corruption, and incredible depravity—sexual and otherwise—unfold earlier than Elizabeth’s and Ascham’s eyes. The pair quickly realizes that the genuine chess online game is being performed in the court docket itself…and its such a lot treacherous aspect is stranger in a wierd land is simply as secure as her host is gracious.

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A few of the avid gamers and their entourages additionally left the corridor, their presence now not required. the gang, notwithstanding, stayed precisely the place they have been: positions contained in the Hagia Sophia have been hugely prized and wouldn't accept up evenly. ‘What say you, Giles? ’ Mr Ascham acknowledged. ‘Would you're keen on to monitor the 1st fit or could you desire to retire to our rooms? ’ ‘I imagine I should still prefer to get used to the temper of this hall,’ Mr Giles stated. ‘It is a big area and the group is energetic. i'm additionally to work out Zaman play. ’ ‘Splendid. i personally will be so much happy to take a seat nonetheless for it slow and watch a few reliable chess. ’ He smiled at me and glanced at Elsie (who used to be studiously analyzing her fingernails). Then he stood and strolled over to the bench through the scoreboard, the only on which the Sultan had positioned the drawn stones. I him. Mr Ascham picked up many of the smoothed stones and rolled them round in his hand, marvelling at their artistry. I got here up beside him. ‘The Sultan definitely understands how one can wear a spectacle. ’ ‘He does indeed,’ Mr Ascham acknowledged as he inspected one stone heavily earlier than placing it down. ‘He additionally is aware easy methods to rig a draw. ’ ‘What? ’ ‘Don’t make any outward response, Bess, simply suppose this stone. it's the one marked with Zaman’s identify. ’ Mr Ascham passed me the rock. It used to be hot. ‘Don’t react,’ he whispered sharply. ‘The stone for Maximilian of Vienna can be hot whereas the stones for Ibrahim of Constantinople and the Prussian are either chilly, as though they've been stored in snow. the remainder are all of ordinary temperature. ’ i used to be stunned. ‘Are you announcing draw that simply happened in entrance of 5 thousand humans used to be fastened? That the Sultan knew which stones to pick? ’ ‘It isn't demanding to warmth up stones in a hearth or cool others in snow. They nonetheless seem like rocks to the gang. i think His Majesty sought after his royal cousin, Zaman, to play within the first fit of the match and to have a simple opponent. I additionally suspect that he didn't wish Zaman to be at the similar facet of the draw because the people’s champion, Ibrahim. He doesn't wish his neighborhood heroes to conflict, that's most likely why Ibrahim additionally drew a really difficult opponent within the Prussian, Wilhelm. The Sultan takes care of his royal relative. ’ My instructor moved clear of the bench. I shook my head as I him. ‘You be aware of, sir, occasionally I worry that you're too curious on your personal strong. ’ ‘Sometimes I do, too,’ he spoke back as we again to our seats to watch for the 1st fit of the event. the 1st fit AN EERIE HUSH GRIPPED the corridor of the Hagia Sophia. It used to be unnerving to work out so gargantuan an area packed with such a lot of spectators but be so completely nonetheless and silent. within the centre of the big corridor, surrounded by way of the large crowd, sat the Sultan’s champion, Zaman, and Maximilian of Vienna, a stiff-backed Austrian with a small pointed moustache trimmed within the sort renowned in Austria in these days. excessive above them sat the Sultan, who had lower back to his throne wanting to discover the 1st fit of his historical event.

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