The Aviary Gate Author:Katie Hickman Elizabeth Stavely sits in the Bodleian Library, her hands tremblings as she holds a fragment of parchment, the key to a story untold for four hundred years ... — Constantinople, 1599: the English merchant Paul Pindar must deliver an extraordinary gift to the Sultan. Grieving for his lost love, drowned in a shipwreck, he hears rumours of a new gol... more »den-haired slave in the Sultan's harem. Could this be his Celia?« less
The Aviary Gate is a story set in both present day and 1599 Constantinople. Celia is the daughter of an English merchant who is taken captive by Ottomans to become a slave in the sultan's harem. In present day Oxford, Elizabeth is a graduate student who stumbled upon part of a narrative describing Celia's time in the harem. The search for the remainder of Celia's story takes Elizabeth all the way to Istanbul.
Jumping back and forth through time is something many writers attempt but in The Aviary Gate, Elizabeth's progress in her search for the rest of the narrative did nothing to drive the story. Many of Hickman's characters are complicated and interesting but Elizabeth is not. She spends most of the story moping over a guy who treats her badly. Elizabeth's interludes really only served to halt the pace of the book. Its my opinion that The Aviary Gate would have been just as good without Elizabeth.
The part of the story which took place in Constantinople was full of suspense and intrigue. I'd recommend skipping the present day interludes altogether, you won't miss anything important to the story. If you enjoy stories told in the past/present format I'd recommend People of the Book.