Brought to you by Penguin.
Venice, 1522. Intelligence arrives from the east confirming Europe's greatest fear: the vastly rich Ottoman Sultan has all he needs to wage total war - and his sights are set on Rome. With Christendom divided, Suleyman the Magnificent has his hand on its entrails.
From the palaces of Istanbul to the blood-soaked fields of central Europe and the scorched coasts of north Africa, The Lion House pioneers a bold new style of eye-witness history to tell a true story of power at its most glittering, personal and perilous: Suleyman's rise to become the most feared and powerful man of the sixteenth century.
It is a journey built on brutal choices and intimate relationships - with the Greek slave who becomes his closest friend, the Venetian plutocrat who sells him gems and wins him allies, the Russian consort who steals his heart. Within a decade, Suleyman has mastery over millions of souls, from Baghdad to the walls of Vienna, while his pirate admiral Barbarossa dominates the Mediterranean. And yet the real drama takes place in small rooms and whispered conversations: as the Sultan exchanges love letters with his own vizier or awakes in terror after dreaming of his own assassination.
The Lion House is not just the story of two civilisations in an existential duel and one of the most consequential lives in world history. It is a tale of the timeless pull of power, dangerous to live with, deadly to live without.
© Christopher de Bellaigue 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022
Christopher de Bellaigue has a magic talent for writing history. It is as if we are there as the era of Suleyman the Magnificent unfolds
Christopher de Bellaigue has written a brilliant history of big power politics and courtly intrigue. The story of the battle for supremacy between Ottoman and Holy Roman empires reads like a majestic, sweeping historical novel. This is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand political ambition and the role of narcissistic leaders and scheming courtiers - in any age
Poised effortlessly between two worlds and two ages, as at home in Istanbul as in the chambers of Venice, alert to every nuance of costume and gesture which is the key to imperial power, de Bellaigue brings you into councils and banquets, through sieges and bedrooms in a book as pungent and mysterious as the age it depicts
An eye-opening, well-written and very timely book
'Luminous ... burst[s] with colour and detail ... A dazzling feat of erudition and storytelling'