Tumanbay by John Dryden

bookshelves: winter-20152016, adventure, dec-2015-free-for-all, arabian, egypt, fantasy, play-dramatisation, seven-seas, slaves, oochi-coochi-baby-aaw, historical-fiction, plague-disease, desert-regions, revolution

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from December 01, 2015 to January 29, 2016



Description: Tumanbay, the beating heart of a vast empire, is threatened by a rebellion in a far-off province and a mysterious force devouring the city from within.

Episode 1: A Head Start: Gregor, Master of the Palace Guard, is charged by Sultan Al-Ghuri with the task of rooting out this insurgence and crushing it.

Episode 2: Ship of the Dead: There is another threat making its way by sea. As slave merchant Ibn awaits for his family to arrive in Tumanbay, sickness has broken out on the ship carrying them.

3: Coming of Age: Adrift at sea in a small boat and captive to an escaped slave, fourteen year old daughter of slave merchant Ibn depends on her slave captor for her survival. Madu, the spoilt nephew of the Sultan, also has to grow up quickly as he swaps palace life for hard graft in the army.

4: As Shajar, the sultan’s chief wife, plots her son Madu’s succession to the throne, Gregor, master of the palace guard, is determined to discover what it is she has taken from the aged Hafiz and is having repaired in the workshop of a pair of artisans in the city. Marching with the army out to the provinces, Madu’s slave finds solace with an unlikely companion.

5: Strangle Hold: Arriving in the provinces to gather the armies to fight rebel “queen” Maya, General Qulan finds the provincial governors less than enthusiastic about his arrival. In Tumanbay, Gregor is under pressure to find the spies but his investigations keep leading him back to Shajar the sultan’s chief wife and a reliquary she has secreted away.

6/10: In The Beginning: With Tumanbay in chaos after the murder of a highly placed individual, Heaven and her slave companion find themselves prisoners of a nomadic tribe in the desert. Having failed in his duty of keeping the palace safe, Gregor attempts to unlock the secret of the missing reliquary and find out why it is worth killing for.

7/10: A Tale of Two Cities: While the sultan dreams of victory against rebellious provincial leader Maya, Gregor is in pursuit of missing slave-girl Sarah (Nina Yndis) and must venture into the catacombs beneath the city, haven to those who wish to escape the brutality of the city above.

8/10: Increasingly insecure and fearful for his life, the sultan begins a purge of the palace. Slave trader Ibn (Nabil Elouahabi), is reunited with the daughter he thought he had lost. And her slave companion finally comes face to face with Gregor, the man who stole his kingdom.

9/10: Jaws of Victory: a trade delegation from across the ocean, brings to Tumanbay the very latest in war merchandise. Convinced of victory by the words of the prophet child, the Sultan (Raad Rawi) is now ready to march out with his armies and destroy rebellious provincial leader Maya. His nephew Madu (Danny Ashok) has only one desire – to escape the city with his army comrade and lover Daniel (Gareth Kennerley). But Daniel is not everything he seems.

10/10: Sword of Faith: As the people of Tumanbay await news of the Sultan’s (Raad Rawi) great victory, Gregor (Rufus Wright) the heartless player discovers he has a heart and that he has been played.

Wish that I hadn’t tried listening to this one-a-week wise, the time lapse meant a reduction in enjoyment.

Gregor Rufus Wright
The Girl on the Ship Olivia Popica
Her Mother Nathalie Armin
The Slave Merchant Nabil Elouahabi
Cadali Matthew Marsh
Frog Deeivya Meir
Frog’s Mother Sirine Saba
Basim Alexander Siddig
Sarah Nina Yndis
Envoy Nadir Khan
Shajar Sarah Beck Mather
Madu Danny Ashok
Sultan Al-Ghuri Raad Rawi
General Qulan Christopher Fulford
Physician Vivek Madan
Daniel Gareth Kennerley
Maid Laure Stockley
Ship Captain Albert Welling

Epic saga inspired by the Mamluk slave-dynasty of Egypt.
Music – Sacha Putnam

Tumanbay: can a Game of Thrones-style epic series work on radio?


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