Lion House: The Coming of A KingChristopher de Bellaigue
Venice, 1522. Sensitive intelligence arrives from the east confirming the European powers' greatest fear- the vastly rich Ottoman Sultan has amassed all he needs to wage total war - and his sights are set on Rome. With Christendom divided, Suleyman the Magnificent has his hand on their entrails. From the palace cloisters of Istanbul to the blood-soaked fields of central Europe to the sun-scorched coast 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 deadly- Suleyman's rise to become the most powerful man of the sixteenth century. Narrated through the eyes and actions of Suleyman's intimates, it animates with stunning immediacy the fears and stratagems of those brought into orbit around him- the Greek slave who becomes his Grand Vizier, the Venetian jewel-dealer who acts as his go-between, the Russian consort who becomes his most beloved wife. Within a decade and half, Suleyman held dominion over 25 million souls, from Baghdad to the walls of Vienna, and with the help of his brilliant pirate commander Barbarossa placed more Christians than ever before or since under Muslim rule. And yet the real drama all takes place in close-up- in small rooms and whispered conversations, behind the curtain of power, where the Sultan sleeps head to toe with his best friend and eats off wooden spoons with his baby boy. The Lion House is not just the story of rival super-powers in an existential duel, nor of one of the most consequential lives in human history, but an examination of what it means to live in a world where a few men get to decide the fate of the world.