The Russo-Turkish war is at a critical juncture, and Erast Fandorin, broken-hearted and disillusioned has gone to the front in an attempt to forget his sorrows. But he will need to resurrect all of his dormant powers of detection if he is to unmask a traitor in the Russian camp.
My Review: All hail TadAD! His praise tipped the scales for me, causing me to get these books. I don't regret this, though I am sorry that I waited so long. Still, that means I've got a lot of time before I run out of them! There are over ten in the series so far.
Very high-quality escapism, written and translated very ably, and presented in a point-of-view that's different enough to make the well-worn genre of lone wolf solves problems for Big Government, and then runs away from the limelight, feel fresh and new. Recommended to all who have a yen for solving puzzles...I didn't figure this one out until halfway through!
Set during the Russo-Turkish War, this installment features not so much Fandorin himself, but a “modern” (1877 style) liberated Russian woman, 22 year old Varvara Andreevna Suvorova, an emancipated Muscovite (kissing a woman’s hands is so 18th century), who is following the Russian army to Bulgaria in order to be reunited with her grass husband, Pyotr. A guide leaves her stranded at an inn, stealing her horse and her money, an emancipated damsel in distress. And who should come to the rescue but Erast Fandorin, a mysterious creature indeed.
Whne last we saw Fandorin in The Winter Queen, he was in Moscow having barely survived the bomb blast that killed his lovely young wife. Now older (21) and wiser, he is clearly someone of consequence to the Russian Intelligence Service. Varya becomes his secretary, and shares in his task--to find out the traitor who is informing the Turkish Army about Russian plans. The story is told from Varya's point of view.
Akunin supposedly has set himself the task of writing in a different mystery subgenre with each of his books. I am nowhere near so informed as to be able to tell what The Winter Queen was, except that it was quite picaresque and featured Fandorin blundering around Europe, accidentally discovering plots (the Tom Jones of the apprentice police procedural set). This one is clearly the international spy thriller, and it succeeds quite well in a light-hearted but very satisfying way.
Don’t expect deep character development or serious detection; this is a piece of Turkish delight, rather sophisticated fluff, and it’s obvious that Akunin enjoyed himself immensely writing it. Highly recommended.
Fandorin, now in the Russian Army, but still stunned from his tragic loss in 'The Winter Queen' (the first book in the series), takes a back seat for most of the book to the primary narrative voice of the young radical Varya Suvorova. As usual Akunin's tale twists and turns with delightfully chameleon-like characters. The book's denouement centers on the Siege of Pleven - was a traitor providing information to the Turks? Or perhaps a murderous spy was afoot? Or was it just bad strategy implemented with poor tactics by the Russians?
Actual historical characters such as the 'White General' Mikhail Sobelev mix with Akunin's inconstant inventions in a complex web of international warfare and intrigue. Highly recommended.
I do recommend it, but probably only if you've at least read The Winter Queen and enjoy the character of Ernst Fandorin. This book is not quite as good as Winter Queen or Murder on the Leviathan, so you may not enjoy it as much.
The story is set in 1877, while Russia is doing battle with the Ottoman Empire. The author begins by introducing one Vavara Surovova, a young Russian woman who is traveling dressed as a boy to meet her fiance who is a Russian soldier. Sadly, she is duped by her driver, who takes her to an inn, tells her he's going out to answer the call of nature, and takes off with her luggage, including money and passport. While she IS disguised, she is surrounded by an entire inn full of boisterous men, and has no money to pay for her meal. Just as she's ready to go into hysterics, she meets the most unlikely of saviors -- our own Erast Fandorin, who is also traveling to the regimental headquarters where Varya's fiance is stationed. They continue their travels & upon arriving, there is a crisis: Varya's fiance has been instructed to send a telegram with instructions regarding troop movements; but the telegram is sent with the wrong place name, costing the Russians many lives. It becomes a case of sabotage & treason, and Erast must get to the bottom of the mystery before the tide turns against the Russian army.
I liked it, and I've already read Murder on the Leviathan, so now it's The Death of Achilles.
At this point, I really didn't know what I thought about the book but as I continued reading my interest in finding out what came next increased and in the end I did enjoy Akunin's novel. Thus I'll be returning this book to my shelves and I might read another of Akunin's books.
This is another fascinating and entertaining read from Akunin. Fandorin is as entertaining as ever, as clever as Poirot, but somehow more human. Minor characters are fleshed out, the plot weaves in twists and turns that keep the reader gripped. This is perhaps not quite up the standard of Fandorin's adventures in mruder on the leviathan but well worth reading. Four stars.