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Byzantium Endures: Pyat Quartet (Pyat Quartet (Between the Wars) #1)

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  273 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Byzantium Endures, the first of the Pyat Quartet, introduces one of Michael Moorcock's most magnificent creations - Maxim Arturovitch Pyatnitski. Born in Kiev on the cusp of the twentieth century, he discovers the pleasures of sex and cocaine and glimpses a sophisticated world beyond his horizons before the storm of the October Revolution breaks. Still a student at St Pete ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published January 5th 2006 by Vintage (first published December 1st 1981)
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Feb 02, 2009 Adam rated it it was amazing
Certainly the best 19th century Russian novel written in the 20th century by an Englishman if nothing else. Reaching depth and literary accomplishment beyond anything else in his excellent and (arguably) over productive writing career, Moorcock has written a literary and deeply evocative historical novel that will offer no comfort or easy ground for the reader. Filled with vicious ironies and harrowing darkness it’s also beautifully researched and utterly convincing in its portrait of its time ...more
Jun 18, 2009 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Ever heard of an unreliable narrator? I hadn't, so this book was a bit of a shock and a revelation. I must have been 13-15 years old and I'd been devouring Moorcock's fantasies at a rate of knots, without worrying at all about the allegorical or Tolkien-reactionary nature of them, which I didn't really catch up on for a few more years. So I was in the library and came across this book and picked it up without thinking or looking closely, just 'cos it had "Moorcok" written on the was a ...more
Apr 08, 2012 Lizixer rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-finished
Historical fiction is an favourite genre of mine. Reading Moorcock's superior novel of the Russian Revolution, I realise how much historical fiction wants you to like their central characters; this plucky woman, that working class hero, this Romantic poetic soul but Moorcock's Pyat is different. Moorcock's central character is the nasty old racist pub bore who also happens to have lived through one of the most extraordinary periods of modern history, the 1917 Revolution. Was he ennobled by ...more
Oct 16, 2016 Elar rated it liked it
Shelves: ebooks
Fantastic history story from the beginning of 20th century. If you like history spiced with a little bit adventure the book is right on the spot. For me there was too much ranting from main character.
Simon Mcleish
Feb 04, 2013 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in July 2003.

The creation of Maxim Pyatniski, or Colonel Pyat, is Moorcock's supreme piece of literary artistry. Many writers, even some of the best, find it hard to write a convincing, three dimensional character who has a different voice from their own. In Pyat, Moorcock's aim seems to be a narrator who is the diametrical opposite of himself in as many ways as possible. The one thing he is unable to do is to make him admirable or sympathetic - he is rabidly
Aug 19, 2016 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a lot of respect for what Moorcock accomplishes in this novel. Roughly the first half of the book is devoted to Pyat's teenage years, and Moorcock establishes the time and place with just enough detail to put you there. A whiff of nostalgia permeates it all, which is appropriate considering that Pyat is reminiscing about his past from his seventies and that the period which he is discussing was demolished by the wars that swallowed up so many lives and ways of living.

The rest of the book
Oct 17, 2014 lärm added it
I don't easily give up. Heck, Musil is still in my 'to finish' pile. But in this case I just couldn't be bothered anymore. Maybe it's because the concept of an unreliable narrator is new to me and I need to learn to fully understand and enjoy it, maybe it needs to grow...
I don't know..

I could deal with the 'is he a Jew or not' thing. His bisexuality was fun too, but when Pyat completely lost it at the exams, that was a wee bit too much for my taste. When it became apparent that he was a delusion
May 19, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A entertaining, if meandering, self-portrait of a self-deluded monster. A work of historical fiction by an unreliable narrator who is also racist, sexist, homophobic, and an all around hateful human being. A portrait of the Russian revolution by the kind of opportunist who benefitted most from it. It's the first volume of a quartet, so in some ways, I should reserve judgment, but so far, it's an entertaining narrative about a monster in a monstrous century.
Apr 23, 2014 Toby rated it it was amazing
Michael Battaglia
Navigating your way through Moorcock's oeuvre can be daunting since its clear he's written about a thousand novels, of which approximately nine hundred have something to do with his "Eternal Champion" series, where various incarnations of the same character (many of whom don't even seem to realize they are the Champion) figure in the struggle between order and chaos. The broadness of theme and the flexibility of the setting means he can pretty much write whatever story suits his needs at that ...more
Dec 06, 2016 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moorcock’s barely cohesive story is energized by an unreliable narrator who quickens you to pick apart his turgid yarn and attempt to discover the “truth.” The multilayered fibbing of the protagonist provides a masterful mystery among important historical moments that keep the story afloat an only mildly interesting plot and anti-hero philosophy.
Pavlo Tverdokhlib
Oct 01, 2016 Pavlo Tverdokhlib rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventjure
This is the first book in the Colonel Pyat Quartet. Colonel Pyat is a character that's pretty prominent in the Jerry Cornelius stories, as he's often portrayed as the current man in Jerry's mum's life. There are many hints as to what he was before. This book is his story.

I don't expect this to be an easy book to read to a Westerner. Moorcock tries his hand at something different from his usual heroic fantasy or pulpy sci-fi here. "Byzantium endures" is a very good attempt at telling the story o
Jim Leckband
Colonel Pyat tells you that he is a child of the Twentieth Century in his first paragraph of the book. Like Nabokov, he was born in 1900 - ready for a century's worth of history. Whereas Nabokov retained an interior aspect of how history affected him - not much of history happens in his books, Pyat is like the punching bag of Russian/Ukrainian politics.

Moorcock is explicit in his portrayal of Pyat as the "everyman" stuck in between all the various identities and factions that boiled over everywh
Serrano Nouaille
No exactamente lo que me esperaba… Moorcock apelando a sus obsesiones de siempre (la infancia de entreguerras, el arquetipo del hermano traidor, el Orden como fuerza represora frente al Caos como libertad creadora) pero escritas como si Dickens hubiera vivido la Revolución Rusa.

Para el Coronel Pyat, Moorcock vuelve a jugar la carta de la provocación, al igual que en "Gloriana", cediendo el papel protagonista a un personaje amoral y sin escrúpulos. Pyat es un personaje que no se detiene ante nada
Jun 05, 2011 Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first volume of "Colonel" Maxim Pyatnitski's recollections, Byzantium Endures takes Pyat from his penurious youth in pre-revolutionary Kiev, via decadent and degenerating Odessa and St Petersburg, to the chaos and horror of the 1917 revolutions and a Ukraine mired in civil war. The archetypical unreliable narrator, Pyat is nonetheless - sometimes unintentionally - candid about his cocaine habit, racism and questionable morals. His loved ones' experiences mirror those of Russia during the cat ...more
Aug 10, 2015 Nathan rated it really liked it
The first part of the unreliable memoir of a Ukrainian born in 1900. This one takes him through his genius years as a wunderkind scientist, dashing ladies man and friend of the aristocracy in pre-WW1 St Petersburg, through to his dramatic interventions (and inventions) on all sides during the Russian Civil War. As I say, this is an unreliable narrator.

He is also one of the most rounded literary creations going. He is also one of the least likeable, with almost no redeeming features at all except
Jun 03, 2015 John rated it liked it
I have never read a book that I loved and then hated and then loved again and then hated. Until this book. Sure, the unreliable narrator was interesting, at times.

And, while I appreciate the fact that the character was living in a time period that was chaotic, at best, the constant back and forth wore on me until I finally triggered my "golden reader's rule" which is, "Life is too short to read a book that I don't like."

I skimmed the last 20% and went in search of new material.
Jun 25, 2013 Old-Barbarossa rated it liked it
Found papers stylee ramblings of a madman.
Uncomfortable reading at times as the Colonel is very unpleasant chap describing terrible times. Occasionally you can forget how unreliable he is as a narrator and be swept up in the tale...but then in the space of a paragraph be reminded as he starts havering obvious shite.
Mrs Cornelius has a few walk on parts, also there's another of MMs regulars: an albino bohemian, as melancholy as the white wolf.
Kate Sherrod
Apr 20, 2015 Kate Sherrod rated it really liked it
Jack Isidore of Seville, CA* as played in the film adaptation by Rade Serbedzija, telling the story of the Russian Revolution from the barstool next to you, with lots of antisemetic rants and flights of nostalgic fancy. Doesn't sound too interesting, but actually weirdly fascinating. There are three sequels. But I need a break.

*See Philip K. Dick's Confessions of a Crap Artist
Allyson Shaw
May 20, 2014 Allyson Shaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a brilliant use of an unreliable narrator, a monster who becomes a fitting lens for this story about a cataclysmic period in history. I was utterly swept away by this book and its immersive detail.
Mar 15, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it
The first of Moorcock's Pyat Quartet, this sets things off well with a protagonist who you find yourself rooting for despite being as repulsive as Thomas Covenant. The remainder of the four will follow.
Sarah Albany
Jul 06, 2014 Sarah Albany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to know what to think of a story that seems to have only just begun; I must start the next one soon! Perfectly masterful in its writing.
Gary Leeming
Jan 19, 2015 Gary Leeming rated it it was amazing
Stunning book set around the Russian revolution. Pyat is a model unreliable narrator and unpacking the truth from his contradictions and lack of self awareness adds to the experience.
Jan 12, 2011 Dennis rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Fiction, yes, a bit of science, yes, but it's an historical novel really. My library classed it as Science fiction? Pretty hard to read and hence I won't be reading the rest of the Quartet.
I think I'll enjoy this book, but after nearly two weeks, I'm only on page 40. It's time to admit that I don't currently have the time to give this book the attention it requires.
Shane rated it liked it
May 22, 2011
Michael K
Michael K rated it really liked it
Feb 06, 2012
Ria rated it really liked it
Apr 04, 2011
PM Press
PM Press rated it it was amazing
May 22, 2013
paul rated it really liked it
Nov 25, 2007
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Michael John Moorcock is an English writer primarily of science fiction and fantasy who has also published a number of literary novels.
Moorcock has mentioned The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Apple Cart by George Bernard Shaw and The Constable of St. Nicholas by Edward Lester Arnold as the first three books which captured his imagination. He became editor of Tarzan Adventures in 1956,
More about Michael Moorcock...

Other Books in the Series

Pyat Quartet (Between the Wars) (4 books)
  • The Laughter of Carthage: Pyat Quartet (Between the Wars 2)
  • Jerusalem Commands: Between the Wars Vol. 3
  • The Vengeance Of Rome

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“Leda: 'I would rather become an international adventuress and bring down kings and emperors.'

Maxim: 'But this is the age of republics and democracies. It's much harder to seduce a committee.”
“In many ways the recent history of the Ukraine can be seen as an intensified version of the history of our era. Most of the political issues are familiar to us. Most of the methods used to meet those issues are also familiar. Events in the Ukraine prefigured events through the rest of the world...” 1 likes
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