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Summary

Calaf and Ishmael are two friends thrust into a world of clashing empires in third century CE Rome and Persia. Growing up in the court of the brutal Kushan emperor Timur, Calaf is Timur’s son and heir, and Ishmael is the son of Timur's scribe. They are inseparable, with ties of love and devotion that stretch back to births days apart and shrouded in mystery.

When Calaf nearly dies saving Ishmael, his father is furious that the prince would risk his life for a servant, and does all that he can to separate the friends. The fall of Timur’s empire flings the two young men across the ancient world, and they must struggle against deceit, betrayal, and cruelty to find each other again.

After enduring years of separation and adversity, they reunite and face one last trial in the court of the merciless Princess Turandot. Calaf must choose. Reclaim his father's throne or condemn Ishmael to certain death.

This historical tale, inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot, affirms that great loss can only be redeemed by love willing to sacrifice all. 

This story will interest listeners who love the intense historical drama of this period as it is portrayed in the Warrior of Rome novels of Harry Sidebottom, and the kind of inventive, boundary-pushing reimagining of classic tales found in Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles and Mary Renault's The Persian Boy.

With a deep cast of characters and carefully crafted plot set in a vivid and unforgiving world, Calaf and Ishmael is a tragic love story that will appeal to listeners who look to historical fiction to reflect times and places as vibrant and challenging as our own.

©2017 Deakin Wooten (P)2020 Deakin Wooten

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  • A.W
  • 17-05-20

Wonderful to read as well as to listen to.

When the book first was published, I read the California and Ismael and sank deeply into the historical world of those middle eastern cultures that we now only know from our current wars, yet that are so rich in history. The story moves along great and the research done by the author is astounding.
Then I heard that an audio version was available and I curiously started to listen. I’m very critical of voices in audio books, but I must say that Kirt Graves couldn’t have done a better job. His voice is easy to listen to and he changes his voice effortlessly in a believable way for the various characters.
The book is a great read and is an equally highly recommended audio book!

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  • Rick Callison
  • 28-04-20

Love in a turbulent world

I’ve followed closely Deak Wooten’s creation of Calaf and Ishmael, and having listened to the entire novel just now I am gratified that is has more than lived up to my earlier expectations.

From the start it’s apparent that the reader need not have an earlier experience with the opera Turandot, for the novel’s lessons are universal. While it begins abruptly in exciting fashion, the ongoing story rewarded me as there unfolds an entire array of interactive encounters and experiences.

It’s apparent that Deak has a deep understanding of human nature with all its motivations and cross-currents, has painstakingly researched the 3rd Century middle-eastern geography and customs towards an authentically-written fabric for the period, and knows how to pace both the active and passive moments in a way that is engrossing, thoughtful, and often emotional.

From intimacy to confrontation, and a wide range of characters from endearing to fearsome, the story always carried me forward into wanting to know what is next. So it’s not surprising that rather than simply a light read, this novel’s overarching benefits are more far flung and lasting as befits its broad scope – and rewards savoring fully and thoughtfully.

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  • William Clark
  • 07-11-20

wonderful !

Seems that love ceates and destroys! Makes you see that story in a profoundly different way!

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  • Bob Johnson
  • 05-04-20

Touching and Suspenseful

Having previously read and enjoyed the printed version I am greatly enjoying the audio version as well. The story takes in a great sweep of history in an era and period that most of us know little about. Mixing historical facts with fiction and further enhancing the plot with ties to Puccini's Opera Turandot, the story is a gripping saga with many twists and turns and a memorable cast of characters. The descriptions of the places, customs and details of life are also fascinating. It is not just suspenseful but also touching in the way it delves into the feelings and and desires of the characters. The empathy that thus develops for some of them is the characteristic of a very good novel. Moreover, the narrator does a superb job of telling the story in a very appealing and clear manner that makes it easy to catch every word. The variation in style of speaking given to different characters is also very well done. Homosexuality is one of the threads woven into the story but it is much more than a gay novel and I highly recommend Calaf and Ishmael to a wide audience.

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