The Harem: a deadly game of thrones

You love. You rule. Or you die.

She never wanted to be the most powerful woman in the empire.

She has grown up as a nomad on the wild steppes north of the Caucasus. The only walls she has ever known are the animal hides of her family’s tent.

All that is about to change.

One day, some Turkish soldiers appear and order her to go with them. She will never see her family or her clan again.

She is terrified that she is going to be raped and murdered. But her captors treat her well, fearsome as they look. They take her to a vast city called Stamboul, a place so huge and so crowded it is beyond her imagination. There she is imprisoned in a gloomy, wooden palace.

She aches to go home. She yearns for the wide-open spaces and people who speak her language. Instead, she is put into a tiny room and forced to sew clothes. She is taught Arabic and the words of the Koran. She realises she is a slave. Any small infraction of the palace rules is met with brutal punishment.

Such is the life of any girl unlucky enough to be chosen for the sultan’s harem.

Suleiman the MagnificentContrary to common belief, a harem was not a paradise of baths and murmuring fountains. Quite the opposite. It was a snake pit of jealousy and intrigue.

The only way out was to attract the sultan’s eye, not an easy thing to do in a palace of three hundred concubines. But it was essential to find some way into his bed. Those girls who didn’t were neglected and forgotten.

Whoever the sultan chose had a chance.

Her preparation for this night of nights was elaborate. First, she was bathed by the Keeper of the Baths in water scented with jasmine and orange. Slaves shampooed her hair with henna and coated her body with a mixture of warm rice flour and oil. She was dressed in clothes of incredible richness. Then the chief black eunuch escorted her to the sultan’s bedchamber.

If she pleased him, he might invite her to his bed again. If the invitations became frequent, she become a favourite. She was given her own apartments, slaves, even an allowance.

Should she give birth to a male child, then she became a kadin, one of the sultan’s four wives. A kadin was a breath away from power. She was also in extreme danger because only one wife could become the mother of the next sultan, the sultan valide.

The sultan valide

To become valide was the pinnacle of achievement for a harem girl. Achieve that, and her power inside the palace and within the empire became absolute. She would rule the harem, while her son would reign supreme over the people who had made her a slave.

The other three wives? Often, they would end up at the bottom of the Bosporus, drowned in a sack.

It was a deadly game of thrones. A slave concubine had to be at all times clever, charming, beautiful, and utterly ruthless if she was to succeed.

These were the choices. This was the game.

This is the story of Harem.

My bestselling historical thriller, Harem, is available on Amazon in Kindle, paperback and in Kindle Unlimited.

Harem has been translated into 15 languages and on release sold 150,000 copies in Germany.

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About Colin

Colin Falconer
Colin Falconer is a best-selling author known for historical thrillers such as Silk Road, Harem, Fury, and Feathered Serpent. He has published over 30 books, which have been translated into 25 languages, distinguishing him as a prominent figure in historical fiction.

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