Tell Them of Battles Kings and Elephants – Mathias Enard

I am reading Mathias Enard for the first time, and frankly, Tell Them of Battles Kings and Elephants is a fascinating book. I admire the subject, the language and the characters of this book. It also shed a pleasant light on the subject of the Ottoman Empire and its artists, which has recently aroused my curiosity.


Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants - Mathias Enard

Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants tells the story of Michelangelo, who was invited to Istanbul in 1506 to build the bridge that Leonardo da Vinci could not. Despite the books I have read about this great artist (The Agony and the Ecstasy) and all the research I have done about him, I have seen that I really cannot get enough of reading about him. The biggest reason I feel this way is, of course, that this book is excellent.

It tells the glory of the Ottoman Empire and the Istanbul of that time in such a captivating way that I hoped I could stay longer in this beautiful place and time. As the descriptions of the author leave room for imagination, the book becomes more mesmerising. After all this time, it was very nice to read about the Ottoman Empire and Istanbul. It was also great to read what happened to a world-famous artist in a novel. I recommend it to everyone; I am sure you will love it. Enjoy!

Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants - Mathias Enard

Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants

In 1506, Michelangelo – a young but already renowned sculptor – is invited by the sultan of Constantinople to design a bridge over the Golden Horn. The sultan has offered, alongside an enormous payment, the promise of immortality, since Leonardo da Vinci’s design was rejected: ‘You will surpass him in glory if you accept, for you will succeed where he has failed, and you will give the world a monument without equal.’ Michelangelo, after some hesitation, flees Rome and an irritated Pope Julius II – whose commission he leaves unfinished – and arrives in Constantinople for this truly epic project.

Once there, he explores the beauty and wonder of the Ottoman Empire, sketching and describing his impressions along the way. And becomes immersed in cloak-and-dagger palace intrigues as he struggles to create what could be his greatest architectural masterwork. Tell them of Battles, Kings and Elephants – constructed from real historical fragments. It is a thrilling page-turner about why stories are told, why bridges are built, and how seemingly unmatched pieces. Seen from the opposite sides of civilization, can mirror one another.

Mathias Enard

Mathias Énard is a French novelist. He studied Persian and so Arabic and spent long periods in the Middle East. He has lived in Barcelona for about fifteen years. Interrupted in 2013 by a writing residency in Berlin.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

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