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The Constant Soldier

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  458 ratings  ·  102 reviews
1944. Paul Brandt, a soldier in the German army, returns wounded and ashamed from the bloody chaos of the Eastern front to find his village home much changed and existing in the dark shadow of an SS rest hut - a luxurious retreat for those who manage the concentration camps, run with the help of a small group of female prisoners who - against all odds - have so far survive ...more
Hardcover, 390 pages
Published August 25th 2016 by Mantle
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Average rating 4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  458 ratings  ·  102 reviews

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Liz Barnsley
Well. In that rather random way that I write reviews by just thinking out loud I’m a little lost for words on The Constant Soldier (hang in there that’ll last all of five minutes I’m not a quiet person) To be fair the gorgeous Sophie Goodfellow did warn me by using the shorthand method of just sending me the book without checking the current status of my reading frenzy first, she only does that when she knows and has never been wrong.

I loved it. I did shed actual tears several times, felt it to
Sharon Bolton
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A small village in Germany-occupied Poland in 1944. Paul Brandt, a German soldier, is traveling home from the Eastern Front. He’s considered to be a hero, but he has a badly burned face and he’s missing an arm.

His home village has changed, dominated now by what’s being called a ‘rest hut’ but is actually a luxurious villa serving the Nazi officers who work at a nearby concentration camp. Brandt’s family are outraged when he takes a job there, but as the story unfolds we learn that he has secret
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-crime-2016
The Constant Soldier is an extraordinary and powerful historical drama. All the rumours about it are completely true. It left me speechless. It moved me in the most profound way. It left me with a sense of peace about the world. With taut electrifying poignant prose, we get a complete sense of what it is like to be a soldier during war time.

Paul Brandt returns from the battlefield disfigured and a changed man. It is 1944 and Brandt is a soldier, with disabilities returning to his home village.
Kate~Bibliophile Book Club
Aug 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Constant Soldier is not my usual genre, but I am SO GLAD that I got to read this novel. It is so compelling, and gripping and more emotive than I was expecting. Definitely one that will stay with me for quite some time.

William Ryan has done an excellent job with The Constant Soldier. His characters are so well written and they draw you into the perfectly plotted narrative wholly and completely. I finished it a couple of weeks ago, but it is still weighing on my mind.

Paul Brandt is an excelle
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Already established as a crime writer of some repute with the Captain Korolev series set in the shadow of Stalinist Russia, William Ryan has now produced a fiction novel with huge gravitas, The Constant Soldier. Using as a starting point, the photographs taken by Karl Höcker, the adjutant to the final camp commandant at Auschwitz, Richard Baer, depicting the “social life” of the SS officers who were responsible for the mass murder at Auschwitz, Ryan has constructed a novel that is not only unerr ...more
Susan Hampson
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such a tense and very powerful story following the life of a young German soldier returning home from the Russian front after a fierce battle has taken one of his arms and badly burnt his face. The Austrian village where he was born is unrecognisable  from the place he left, governed by Poland and now occupied by the SS.
Five years have past since Paul Brandt made an unfortunate choice as a college student, after taking part in a political stand at university, either join the army or serv
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: four-star
A thought provoking historical drama following German soldier Paul Brantz as he recovers from a traumatic injury sustained on the frontlines. Now, he has been summoned to work as a steward at a rest hut for members of the SS.

This book wasn’t what I was expecting but I could appreciate how well written it was. The cover implied a romance, of which there was none. The author is clearly well educated on wartime history as much of the book focuses on conflict and artillery. The characters are vivid
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I don’t read a great deal of books in this genre but having seen so many positive reviews from blogging buddies, I knew I had to read it for myself.

Brandt was someone I felt a lot of empathy for. He has served his time in the army and is lucky to still be alive. Sadly returning home has him feeling helpless until he is offered a job managing the concentration camps.

You really get the sense of how hard it is for people returning from the war trying to adjust to life back in familiar surroundings.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Upon finishing this book in the early hours I found I had not only a lump in my throat, but I was speechless at the intensity of the narrative. This is not a book you can easily set aside and forget about (hence why I was reading until after 2.30 a.m.!) The story remains with me even now and I’ve no doubt it will remain with me for some while to come –and I don’t say this lightly, it’s one of the finest books I have ever read.

Every striking scene, every imminent threat, every laboured dialogue e
Mairead Hearne (
‘He knew he was lucky. The rest of the battalion had been surrounded near Korsun. Some of them must have got out – some always did. But he heard nothing from anyone. Perhaps they had just been swallowed up by the winter snow. Perhaps he was the last of them.’

The Constant Soldier is a novel that has been on my horizon for quite some time. Originally published in August 2016, I was delighted to be reading a copy of the latest edition, published in June 2017.

The basis of this novel is rooted in
A powerful, emotional read, very well written.

Kelly Furniss
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Every so often you read a really good book and it stays with you long after you have put it down and this is one of those for sure.
The detailed descriptions of the landscape and harsh 1944 winter set the scene so well.
The character of Paul Brandt draws you in to the story as he returns from the War a broken man.
He's dealing with a lot of pain and guilt and a chance encounter spirals him in to a mission to rescue someone as well as just maybe himself.
The story is well paced building up momentum
Caroline Vincent
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When Paul Brandt, to his knowledge the only survivor from his battalion, returns home from the front severely wounded, his town regards him as a hero. But Paul is wracked with guilt and will do anything to make amends, make it up to her, the woman he betrayed – he will even pretend to be a true Nazi. Will it save her?

| Introduction |

German soldier Paul Brandt was forced to go into the army due to his political activities in Vienna, before the outbreak of WW2. The only other option was prison wh
David Harris
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm grateful to the publisher for an advance copy of this book to review

It is early 1944. A soldier rides away from battle through a fairytale landscape of glittering ice, snow-boughed trees and frozen rivers. he is injured and will have to spend many weeks and months recuperating before being discharged home, used, broken and racked with guilt. But the war hasn't finished with him, and even on that journey back from the Front, he passes another train - 'a long line of snow-roofed cattle trucks
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This one took me awhile to read. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I was forced to put it down. This story was very well done and I'm so glad I picked it up. I enjoy books with incredible characters and a well thought out plot and storyline:) ...more
Lisa Hall
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was my first Willian Ryan novel and I wasn't sure what to expect. Now, I'm finished reading and I've had to take a few days to reflect back over the story, before being able to write a review. In short, the book is simply stunning. Beautifully written, with a wonderful sense of location, I was swept away within a few chapters. Paul Brandt, our constant soldier, is a well-written character and Ryan encapsulates the internal battles that Brandt suffers perfectly.
I have never read a book set
This book has to be read for the sheer brilliance of the backstory and its portrayal. A real gem of a read but one which will make you cry and feel traumatized for days after you read it.

William Ryan is the master builder in every sense of the word. Every brick, every word builds a picture of sheer brutality, bloody history but a heartbreaking story of the human spirit.

Not out until August but be prepared. This is worth the wait. Stockpile tissues, batteries for your torch and something to eat a
Tina Woodbury
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For all of my reviews: www.readingbetweenthepagesblog.wordpr...

In 1944 Paul Brant returns home injured after serving on the front lines. His village has changed quite a bit and his own father admitted that he would not have recognized his own son if he didn’t know he was returning home. While on one of his daily walks he stumbles upon a hut (a place for officers to rest and the injured to recover) and sees a woman working the fields that looks eerily familiar to him. He starts to obsess over how
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

THE CONSTANT SOLDIER by William Ryan is a raw, powerful, harrowing historical fiction novel that will break you in every possible way while simultaneously filling you with the strength and unwavering hope of the human spirit.

Set during the Second World War, we see Paul Brandt, an injured soldier return to his hometown, disfigured and changed in so many ways. Determined to do good in a world that has become so twisted by evil, it is only when he spots a female prisoner that looks familiar in the
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! Not often do we get inside the mind of an SS officer who was reluctantly pushed into soldiering for the Reich even though he didn't believe in the cause. Paul Brandt is that soldier who was so badly injured that he was sent back to his home-a small village in Germany near the Russian border. There he discovers a hut where prisoners are kept including one with whom he has had a prior relationship. This is so finely written yet harrowing that it was difficult for me to read for long per ...more
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Paul Brandt is a soldier in the German army who returns home in 1944 having been badly wounded and disfigured. He joined the army after being arrested and given the choice of joining up or facing prison. His village seems a very different place and nearby he finds that a 'rest hut' has been built for the SS soldiers who work in concentration camps. The hut is staffed by women prisoners and when walking past one day, Brandt recognises one of them as the women he was with when he was arrested and ...more
Paul Mc
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book absorbed me from the start. The characters, storyline and setting are very believable. Set in the last days if the war, as the Russians approach Germany from the east, it deals with a wounded German soldier returned to his home village from the front. Recommended.
Janet Emson
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books, reviewed
My thanks to the publisher for my review copy of this book.

Paul Brandt is returning to his home town, horribly injured whilst fighting the Allies on the front in the East. As he returns home, passing the SS Rest Hut he sees one of the women prisoners. Shocked he realises it is the woman he fell in love with, whilst part of a political resistance movement years earlier. Already haunted by his role in her arrest, and by the guilt of his actions whilst in combat, Paul vows to find a way to help the
Abby Slater- Fairbrother
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
WW2 is one of my favourite genres in historical fiction. I have been a huge fan since I was in my teens. It is unusual for me to find something I would class as different/unique in the genre, as I have read such a variety of series/stand alones etc. I think this novel had something unique in that it focuses on the redemption of one man and his internal struggles with his conscience. which makes for, incredible reading!

Paul Brandt returns home to his sleepy village, having been wounded in an atta
Nada Kosovac
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is standalone novel from great crime writer William Ryan. I did not know what to expect from this book and I was pleasantly surprised. I read this book in two days and could not put it down. I liked the characters and the story. The setting for a novel is a time and place that will always evoke strong feeling in all of us. But Mr. Ryan has managed to show us different side to this terrible time. We see humane side to Germans. The main character is someone who has learned from loss and feels ...more
Ben Kane
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ryan has written a tour de force. A chilling account of civilian and military life amid the collapse of the Third Reich, Ryan’s book makes for compelling, even mesmerising reading. From the icy winter wind to the bleak landscape, from the war weary SS officers and the terrified camp prisoners to the cynical, maimed hero, Ryan’s world feels frighteningly authentic. I couldn’t put it down. And as for the final scene…well, I defy you not to shed a tear. A bloody great read!
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent. Powerful, poignant and elegantly written. 4.25 stars. Maybe a bit more.

One of the better novels I've read in the past couple of years.
G.J. Minett
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's late 1944 and Paul Brandt is returning to his native village in Upper Silesia, an area that is struggling for identity, having previously been under Austrian and Polish rule before latterly becoming part of Germany. It's clear from the outset, with the relentless advance of the Russian forces, that more changes are on the way and that a day of reckoning is imminent.
It is the perfect symbol for Brandt himself, who is facing similar problems on a personal level, having been seriously wounded
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: october-2017
I really enjoy historical fiction and I’m determined to read more in this genre. I’ve had The Constant Soldier on my TBR pile for a while after hearing wonderful things about it from other bloggers.

Set in 1944, The Constant Soldier follows Paul Brandt as he returns to his village after being badly injured fighting for the German army on the eastern front. Brandt’s village has changed, people are missing and the village is home to a retreat for SS officers and is complete with female prisoners. O
Ned Frederick
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Almost lost me in the morphine-induced fever dream of the first many pages. But with the return of clarity, The Constant Soldier, became a carefully paced story of reluctant soldiers, one in particular, determined to make amends for their sins. We understand these would have been good people in peacetime but they have been sullied by their experiences slogging through the fetid swamp that was WW II on the Eastern front, and, in some cases as concentration camp officers. We come along during the ...more
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William Ryan is an Irish writer living in London. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and the University of St Andrews and worked as a lawyer before taking up writing full-time. His first novel, THE HOLY THIEF, was shortlisted for the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year, The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award, The CWA John Creasy New Blood Dagger and a Barry Award. His second novel, THE BLOODY ...more

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