I am, quite frankly, in awe of the amount of research and detail that went into this book. This is how historical fiction should be: respecting the un...moreI am, quite frankly, in awe of the amount of research and detail that went into this book. This is how historical fiction should be: respecting the uniqueness of cultures far removed from ours, but unflinching in the face of the alienness and brutality that were inherent to these periods - unlike the pretty costume fests that historical fiction is usually. Quite frankly, after studying Greek and Roman history for a semester I vowed I'd never spent a single minute on it again (less due to the subject itself and more thanks to inept and unfriendly teachers), but I devoured and loved every single word in this book. I do wish McCullough had spent more time discussing what a monumental turn in history Sulla's decision to lead his army on Rome was - she did, of course, but the last 300 pages of the book felt rushed to me. I'd have liked to see more of Marius' decent into madness instead reading about characters telling other characters about this madness, but these are minor nitpicks in light of this fantastic series of books.(less)
This was a hilariously bad read (after the scene where the murderer computer animates the killing of his victims I knew I was in for a treat), but som...moreThis was a hilariously bad read (after the scene where the murderer computer animates the killing of his victims I knew I was in for a treat), but sometimes it's just the thing I want.(less)
It really shows that this was written to be a movie. I can see how it'd make a wonderful film, but as a novella it seems ... lacking, and definitely n...moreIt really shows that this was written to be a movie. I can see how it'd make a wonderful film, but as a novella it seems ... lacking, and definitely not up to the quality of Greene's other writings. It did however make me curious about seeing "The Third Man".(less)
I rarely read fantasy or history; my best friend calls me "picky". Consequently I wouldn't have picked up this book if I didn't have some sympathy tow...moreI rarely read fantasy or history; my best friend calls me "picky". Consequently I wouldn't have picked up this book if I didn't have some sympathy towards the author thanks to his Witcher series. The book didn't disappoint, but then again the 15th century would make it hard on anyone to be depicted in a boring way.
Plotwise, the books very repetitive: They get themselves into a mess (most likely due to the monumental stupidity of Reynevan, the main character), they get rescued, they get themselves into the next mess, they get rescued again. This very simple concept, however, gives the author the possibility to explore all the important aspects of the 15th century, creating a marvelous panopticum of a truly terrible, terribly interesting time. Admittedly, I've only superficial knowledge of the late Middle Ages (and would be geographically out of my comfort zone as well), but Sapkowsky seems to hit all the right buzzwords. I especially loved the focus on the Hussite movement, that got my inner history nerd indecently excited. I should probably admit that I also have a thing for meeting historical characters in novels - (view spoiler)[Gutenberg, Nicolaus Cusanus and Copernicus (hide spoiler)], oh my!
I wasn't really into the fantastical element, though. In fact, I was rather disappointed when I first realized that this wasn't 100% historical, a fact which is conveniently NOT mentioned anywhere. I kind of came around to it thanks to (view spoiler)[the magic transportation device parking space at the witch sabbath (hide spoiler)], because that made me laugh and what makes me laugh is alright in my book. Speaking of which, Sapkowsky's trademark bawdy sense of humor is very present in this book, possibly more so than in the witcher series. (Whose grimdark machismo I probably couldn't stand if it weren't for that humour.) It contrasts starkly with the Reynevan's Lancelot attitude, which would be unbearable if he didn't regularly get his ass kicked running after the next beautiful dame.
Speaking of which, I love about Sapkowsky (despite the machismo!) that his female characters aren't tropes, but always have their own agenda. In general I enjoyed all the minor characters and their gorgeous ugly faces immensely, even though the buttload of names got kinda confusing at times. (This book isn't for you if you can't stomach too many weird-sounding names, as the author heaps German, Polish or Bohemian character upon character and he isn't shy to throw around phrases in a couple of languages. There are translations at the back of the book, thankfully.) The book's a quick read nevertheless because of its breakneck pace. I laughed a lot at Reynevan's constant misfortunes and was genuinely scared for him at the same time ... a very becoming mix of schadenfreude, suspense and sympathy for the main character indeed.
tl;dr Author did his research. Magic aspects regrettable, but tolerable. Promising treatment of female characters, overall a very entertaining and colourful cast. Plot not exactly original, but very, very enjoyable. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Elser hat unter den Widerstandskämpfern gegen den Nationalsozialismus immer eine besondere Faszination auf mich gehabt, vermutlich aus demselben Grund...moreElser hat unter den Widerstandskämpfern gegen den Nationalsozialismus immer eine besondere Faszination auf mich gehabt, vermutlich aus demselben Grund, warum seine Tat so lange in Deutschland nicht anerkannt und gewürdigt wurde: er gehörte nirgends dazu, ließ sich für keine Ideologie einspannen.
Dieses Buch liefert ein ziemlich umfassendes Bild von seinem Leben vor dem Attentat, Planung und Vorbereitung des Attentats sowie von seiner Verhaftung und seinem Schicksal nach dem Scheitern. Außerdem gibt es noch einen Überblick über die Rezeption seiner Tat vom Deutschland der Nachkriegszeit bis in unsere Tage, und, was ich besonders schön fand, einen Anhang mit allen von und zu ihm existierenden schriftlichen Quellen. Es sind natürlich wenig, und teilweise durch die verblassten Schreibmaschinen-Texte auf den Abbildungen schwer zu lesen; deshalb war ich auch mehr als froh, dass das lange Gestapo-Verhörprotokoll in Form einer Abschrift vorlag.
Ein faszinierendes Buch über eine faszinierende Persönlichkeit, über die letztendlich durch die problematische Quellenlage (keine Briefe oder Tagebücher von ihm sind überliefert & das Gestapo-Protokoll ist zwar umfassend, aber aus offensichtlichen Gründen nicht unbedingt glaubwürdig) wohl immer Fragen offen bleiben werden.(less)