“Confessions of a Janissary” by Nicholas J. Downing

Nicholas J. Downing’s “Confessions of a Janissary” is set in the 14th century during the period where the Ottoman Empire reigned supreme in the Middle East. Here, readers meet Mirko, a young boy conscripted into the Sultan’s army. The Ottomans have been taking boys from Christian families as slaves and forcing them into the Sultan’s elite corps. Readers follow Mirko as he transitions from an angry, confused 13-year-old boy focused on avenging the death of his father, who had fought with the Serbian forces, into an accomplished soldier and leader in the Sultan’s army. As Mirko tries his best to navigate his new world and battle old demons, he must make a choice: Succumb to the force the culture and religion of Islam and accept his place in the Sultan’s kingdom, or use his newfound position to undermine the Sultan, and ultimately assassinate the man who Mirko believes is responsible for his father’s death. As the years unfold, however, and he gets to know the men behind the curtain of the Ottoman Empire’s success, Mirko realizes that maybe the world is not as black and white as he believed it to be. … More “Confessions of a Janissary” by Nicholas J. Downing