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They Were Divided (The Writing on the Wall: The Transylvania Trilogy #3)

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  173 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
'They Were Divided' reflects the disintegrating course of events in central Europe. The sinister, fast moving events lead to the youth of Hungary marching off not only to their death on the field of battle, but to the dismemberment of their country.
Paperback, 326 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Arcadia Books (first published January 1st 1940)
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This is review of the Transylvania Trilogy, also known as The Writing of the Wall, and I am posting this in each volume. The trilogy is composed of:

They Were Counted
They Were Found Wanting
They Were Divided

These titles are taken from the Book of Daniel, from the Belshazzar’s Feast, when a hand appeared and wrote on the wall:

God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; your kingdom is divided and given to your enemies.
Apr 01, 2015 [P] rated it really liked it
For my previous two reviews in this series I have churned out over 2500 words and so as I come to write the third and final review I find myself at something of a loss. What can I say about Miklos Banffy’s Transylvanian Trilogy that I haven’t already said? Not a lot, it seems. It doesn’t help that They Were Divided is much shorter than the two preceding volumes. Indeed, while all three follow on, volumes one and two did feel, in some way, like separate entities. They dealt with markedly ...more
Nov 30, 2014 Daniel rated it it was amazing
In the midst of my obsession with Jane Smiley, I listened to an interview with her where she recommended the Transylvanian Trilogy. I had no other connection to the author or the setting. In fact, I generally have trouble with Great Novels, as they tend to start feeling like eating your vegetables. But The Transylvanian Trilogy was a true delight, a Great Novel that really worked for me as a riveting story.

Miklos Banffy was a count and politician in Hungary for many years, and he writes about pr
Chuck LoPresti
Jul 13, 2012 Chuck LoPresti rated it really liked it
The third and final installment of the Transylvanian Trilogy of Banffy ties all loose ends together without fanfare, closure or positive resolution. This is a story about foolish politicians doing irreparable damage to their homeland in the name of vanity and little more. Banffy was right in forecasting the horrible results of the first and second world wars on Hungary. The primary function of this final book is to clarify the characters and their roles in bringing about the decline of Hungary. ...more
Jun 07, 2012 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
My favorite passage from the book:

Abady descended the path at his own pace. The city's myriad lights glowed down in the valley and for a moment Abady found himself almost blinded by the arc-lights of the station at the foot of the hill. For a moment or two he paused to gaze at the beauty of the great spread of tiny lights in the dark night; and, as he stopped, he was thinking what a strange man Tamas Laczok was. he knew so much, he was filled with esoteric knowledge, he had gazed at wide horizon
Mar 08, 2014 Historygirl rated it liked it
Shelves: world-war-i
They Were Divided provides a fascinating eyewitness account of the last years leading up to WW1 from the point of view of Hungary, specifically Transylvania. There is also a fictional story about the travails of a set of aristocratic families over several generations and a love story. Some of the fictional pieces are slice of life gems that reflect both character and social mores. Others, including the love story of the main character, are less compelling. However, both as history and literature ...more
May 18, 2014 Jakob rated it really liked it
Stunning, just as good as the two first. After finishing it, I felt strangely lost; to part with Balint and Adrienne and all the others felt like saying goodbye to good friends. This whole series deserve far more credit, and a natural place in the canon of great literature.
Nov 28, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this trilogy so much! So evocative. Throughout the series I wanted to transport myself to the time and space. Really beautiful. I will definitely read these books again.
Al Maki
Oct 08, 2016 Al Maki rated it really liked it
Shelves: story, history, places
'And the fingers went on writing in letters of fire upon the plaster of the Wall of the King's palace. And the third word was UPHARSIN - thy kingdom shall be divided.
'But none could read the writing so drunk were they with much drinking of wine, and they wasted the Lord's vessels of gold and silver which their ancestors had laid up in the house of the Lord, and they argued with each other praising their false gods made of gold and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood and of clay until there was
The Transylvanian trilogy might sound like a series of vampire novels but now I have read them I have a different picture of the region, and for that I am grateful. The novels are extremely readable, similar to something like Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga, with a bit of Jane Austen and a helping of Tolstoy.

I confess to having known virtually nothing about the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian empire before embarking upon these books, so the read was educational as well as enjoyable.

The main P
Jun 15, 2015 Ian rated it really liked it
"They Were Divided" is the final instalment of Miklós Bánffy's immense and stylish Transylvanian Trilogy, set in the years before WWI. As with the earlier books in the series, the novel is simultaneously a love story, a family saga and an elegy to the lost world of Hungarian ruled Transylvania, a world that was obviously very dear to the author's heart.

It is difficult to describe the plot in detail without including spoilers, but in this final part the hero, Balint Abady, continues his difficult
Mar 20, 2016 Doria rated it it was amazing
Marvelous first-hand account of a society on a precipice: Hungarian gentry in Transylvania in the decade before the first World War. Written decades later, in exile, by the former politician Miklos Banffy, I was astonished by how well-written this trilogy is. The characters are so well-drawn, so lifelike, that they must have been based on people known to the author. But in addition to the men and women who populate the pages of his books, the trilogy is a glorious and variegated ode to the ...more
Apr 29, 2008 Debra rated it it was amazing
This book is the first in the Trilogy Banffy wrote about his native Transylvania, the 'land across the forest' so different from the Dracula legends. It is a profound and wonderful work that follows the character of Balint as he reckons with the changes in city (Budapest) and countryside in Hungary and Transylvania at the turn of the last century. It has much in common with Proust's Remembrances, with Musil's Man Without Qualities and with Tolstoy's writings about the peasants of Russia. The ...more
Feb 07, 2016 Barbara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z-bv
Einen zweiten Anlauf habe ich gebraucht, um den dritten und letzten Band der Siebenbürgen-Trilogie (ursprünglich 1940 veröffentlicht) zu beenden. Im Vergleich zum zweiten Band nehmen die innenpolitischen Geplänkel noch mehr Raum ein, was das Lesen stellenweise mühsam macht. Bálints Geschichte rückt stärker in den Mittelpunkt, die Erzählungen der anderen Figuren werden kürzer abgehandelt und zu einem, meist tragischen, Abschluss gebracht. Insgesamt ist die Stimmung ziemlich pessimistisch, so ...more
Jo Rioux
Jan 18, 2016 Jo Rioux rated it liked it
Oh my heart.

It's taken me such a long time to muster the will write this review.

I didn't like the last book of this series very much.
After much, much back and forth, when you think the main characters are moving to some sort of resolution, everything flies apart again- but not in any grandiose or dramatic fashion, just a clumsy tumble off the shelf- and then the book ends. Threads are left untied or hastily knotted.

Meh. I'm still grumpy about it. The first two were so... so... epic, moving,
May 23, 2016 Lysergius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last volume in the 3 volume Transylvanian Trilogy. I am sad to see it go.

It brings the series to such a sad conclusion, at the start of the first World war. The protagonist Balint's bitter intuition that the world he knows will never be the same, is profound, and we know in the hindsight of the passage of time, that this is true. Banffy manages to convey in a few sentences the destruction of an era. I found it almost painfully poignant, this twilight of empires, loss of a generation of yout
Aug 04, 2015 Al rated it really liked it
The third and final volume of Banffy's epic series on life in pre-WW1 Hungary and Transylvania. I can't add much more to my comments on volumes 1 and 2, except to repeat my opinion that this trilogy is one of the finest pieces of historical European fiction that I have read. It won't be in every public library; I had to get two of the books through Inter-library Loan, but it's worth the effort.
Al Stone
Oct 13, 2013 Al Stone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm so glad that this book was translated so I could discover it and read it, but I'll repeat my comment on previous volumes that the read is spoiled by careless editing, which has allowed misprints to appear in the final product. I also am surprised that the translation won a prize because it allows ambiguity into the meaning at times and reads clumsily at others. As a story and a piece of writing though it is worth the effort.
Nov 21, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it
This book seemed more fragmented than the first two. It's unclear if that was the author or due to translation, which is a bit awkward at times. But the last third and especially the ending were -- hmmm, what words describe a poetic sad ending?

Overall, I'm really glad I read the whole trilogy. I have a much richer view of that country and the events, culture and politics leading in to WW1.
Nov 18, 2011 Liviu rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mainstream, read_2011
Great ending to the trilogy; the shortest book and more devoted to political events, it also has many emotional moments.
I thought the ending was very appropriate and open to imagination at least concerning the fate of Balint and Adrienne - after all volume 2 ends the same in a way and then volume 3 brings the together again...
Jonathan yates
Jan 28, 2011 Jonathan yates rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really liked this book, this whole series, a very serious fun look at the origins of World War 1 from the perspective of an Aristocratic Hungarian, he explores the dawning of social conciousness and the awful state of affairs of the world at this time without really ever losing my interest as a reader as the main character and the story itself can be described as both exciting and smart.
Jan 14, 2011 Cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Superb! Great writing and old fashioned story telling. Hard to find this anymore.....A true escape.. I read this book before the others - because it was the slimmest- and then had to read 1 & 2. You can read them together or not. Story still holds.
Jed Mayer
Apr 22, 2015 Jed Mayer rated it it was amazing
I'd be lying if I didn't admit I spent some phases of Banffy's trilogy checking how many pages were left, but the conclusion really makes the whole experience worthwhile: rich and sad, with the weight of history keenly felt.
Karen Sweet
Nov 06, 2014 Karen Sweet rated it really liked it
Must read. Fabulous story set in pre-World War I. Based primarily in Transylvania. How many books can say that? The last of the trilogy.
Alistaire King
Alistaire King rated it really liked it
Dec 05, 2015
David rated it it was amazing
Aug 31, 2015
Scott rated it it was amazing
Apr 24, 2015
Abeil rated it really liked it
Mar 19, 2016
Betsy Platt
Betsy Platt rated it it was amazing
May 05, 2014
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Count Miklós Bánffy de Losoncz (30 December 1873—June 5, 1950) was a Hungarian nobleman, politician, and novelist. His books include The Transylvanian Trilogy (They Were Counted, They Were Found Wanting and They Were Divided), and The Phoenix Land.

The Bánffy family emerged in 15th century Transylvania and established itself among the foremost dynasties of the country. They owned a grand palace in
More about Miklós Bánffy...

Other Books in the Series

The Writing on the Wall: The Transylvania Trilogy (3 books)
  • They Were Counted
  • They Were Found Wanting

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