by RDRA (Montreal): I am generally not a fan of books where there are multiple stories taking place in different time periods. I find that although the storylines eventually merge the journey is too disjointed and jumpy for my liking. This novel uses this format, and although I did not love that aspect, the writing and the stories made it worth the effort. This is a novel for lovers of books and libraries. It celebrates stories and the power of books to educate, comfort and transport us. The author gifts us with characters we rarely read about – my favourite being Omeir, a boy who farms with his team of massive oxen and who is forced to work, driving his team for the Sultan who is intent on invading Constantinople. In each story the attention to detail is astounding – I truly felt I understood the lives each character led – from minute personal details to larger issues of politics, religion, war, safety etc. The novel made me really think about our world and what we are creating and destroying. For me, when a story leaves me thinking for days about such issues it is worth reading!