I was ready to be charmed. After reading too much violence and gore lately, I was ready for history and subtle intrigue. Unfortunately, The Oracle of Stamboul was flat and lifeless for me. The descriptive writing was nice in places, but I never felt the heartbeat of the characters. They moved about as sketches, or ghosts of the past without the writer revealing what lay beneath their skin.
The dialogue was mechanical and often annoying. Mr. Lukas has a habit of describing a situation, then giving the character's assessment or decision, then writing flat and straight forward dialogue stating that decision. This made reading rather painful and boring, so I began to skim, hoping some action would occur, or true conflict arise. Nada. No real subplots either, really. I saw potential for many. What about palace plots and politics and betrayals? Those were only alluded to and one event occurred, but was quickly resolved. As the novel stands, it should have been a short story or novella. For the novel as advertised, it needed more substance. The ending was unsatisfying as well. Surprising, yes, but much like the surprise you get when you drop a carton of milk on the floor and realize the waste of something that might have been delicious.