Vera Mutafchieva:Случаят Джем (The Case of Cem)

The latest addition to my website is Vera Mutafchieva‘s Случаят Джем (The Case of Cem). After the sudden death of Mehmed II, known as Mehmed the Conqueror, his two sons vie for the throne. The elder son, Bayezid wins and his younger half-brother Cem Sultan is driven into exile. The story, narrated by a series of minor players, in particular Cem’s assistant and possiby lover, the poet Saadi, is the main one but not the only one, concerns Cem’s years in exile and how the various players – the papacy, kings of France, Knights Hospitaller, led by Pierre d’Aubusson, Venice, the Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary and others – outwit, deceive, cheat, conquer and outsmart everyone else for political and/or financial gain. Cem is a trophy to be protected but also sold and bargained for as each player tries to gain the upper hand, made more complicated by the death of key players such as the popes and kings of France. As the story is told by the minor characters, sometimes speaking from well in the future, the story is not always historically accurate but is very colourful. It is a wonderful novel as we follow the complex political permutations but also the colourful accounts of the minor characters and see Cem, a trophy , a bargaining tool, realising that he is never going back home and will never be sultan.

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