Odelisque - Fiona McIntosh This book has many main characters (hence the hefty 480 pages) and a good number of subplots as well.

After his father dies, 15 year old Boaz take the throne. Right in the middle of a huge power struggle between his manipulative, coldblooded and power hungry mother, Herezah, the manipulative, power hungry and cold-blooded Vizier Tariq and the Grand Master Eunuch, Salmeo who is...you guessed it, manipulative, cold-blooded and power hungry. It's a trifecta of pure evil.

Boaz' allies include Spur Lazar who is the protector of the realm; a seemingly insane dwarf who plays the role of court jester and Ana, the newest addition to the royal harem. Of course, the three great idiots (Herezah, Tariq and Salmeo) despise all three of these people and do their best to remove Boaz' allies so he doesn't have anyone to lean on except them.

This leads to an unbelievably bloody and violent rein of terror: executions, torture and castration. In this Ottoman-like setting, these actions are horrific but also a normal part of society which is the only reason this book didn't get 5 stars. I absolutely hate this subject matter and had I known this was where this book was headed, I think I would have skipped it entirely. That is not to say that I didn't enjoy the story. I did, though a great deal was gringe-worthy and truly horrifying. I really liked Boaz, Ana, Pez and Lazar. The bad guys were extremely bad and really needed a swift kick in the pants (and then some).

Oh and lets not forget the main conflict. The whole religious thing. Every thousand years or so, the Goddess Lyana is resurrected and her opposition, Zarab (a male god) fights tooth and nail to be the One God. Lyana's messenger, Iridor plays a big part in the conflict that is hinted at in this installment and I imagine, given full rein in book 2.

I felt grief-stricken reading parts of this book and honestly had to put the book down and do something else to remove these gruesome images from my mind. I honestly don't know how people in the Ottoman Empire survived this type of dictatorship and cruelty for cruelties sake. What a truly horrifying society.