It’s 1648, and Isabella has made a home for herself in Venice, safe from the clutches of the Inquisition. She, her friend Willem, and their mentor, the irascible Signora Contarini, work together as printers and publishers. Their publishing house is famous throughout Europe for one title: The Sum of All Knowledge, a revolutionary book of history and philosophy that has brought them - yet again - to the attention of the authorities.
Then Isabella’s nemesis, Fra Clement, is appointed Inquisitor in Venice, and vows to stamp out heretical printing. Isabella knows she will no longer be safe in the city, and, guided by their learned cartographer Al-Qasim, the three friends make their escape to the one place they feel sure Fra Clement will never follow: the fabled city of Constantinople, now ruled by the Ottoman Empire.
They are greeted as esteemed guests, in a city where beautiful books are still written and illustrated by hand, and mechanised printing is frowned upon.
Isabella and Signora Contarini are welcomed into the royal household, ruled by the all-powerful Queen Mother, K ösem, in the name of her grandson, the child-Sultan Mehmet IV, who lives in the Palace’s legendary Golden Cage.Isabella quickly becomes friends with the boy king and his elder sister, Ayºe, and acts as Mehmet’s eyes: she reads to him and teaches them both the languages of antiquity and of Europe. Engrossed in her duties, she doesn’t at first notice that Willem is besotted with a young slave girl called Suraiya - or that Signora Contarini and Al-Qasim are involved in an underground movement to bring the printing press to the Ottoman Empire. And none of them notice the mysterious foreigners who follow their every move. For the famous Sultanate of Women is far from serene. Court politics and an impending war with Europe place Isabella and her friends in danger - from forces within the Golden Cage, and beyond.
About the Author
Kelly Gardiner is the author of the Swashbuckler series.
For Ages: 14 - 16 years old
For Grades: 8 - 10
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 1st September 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 21.1 x 13.9 x 2.6
Weight (kg): 0.32