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Ferro e Fogo: Trilogia Parte I, A - Vol. 1 [Portuguese]

(Book #1.1 in the The Trilogy Series)

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This book, and its two sibling books "The Deluge" and "Fire in the Steppe," were recommended to me by a Polish person because they were "good stories." What I found were three of the most gripping pieces of literature I have ever read. I couldn't put them down - the story, narration, wit, humor, romance, and intrigue were all amazing. And I learned a lot about the history of Poland and Eastern Europe to boot. This last part deserves some attention - I didn't pick up the book with the intention of learning about Polish history (honestly, I was disinterested), but the history turned out to be very colorful and amazing. Regardless of whether someone is interested in Polish history or not, this is a timeless and unforgettable read for anyone who wants a good epic adventure & romance novel.

21st century American history written in advance?

Actually it's a trilogy: Fire and Sword. Deluge. Fire in the Steppes. You can read it as an epic historical novel about 17th century Poland, and what an epic it is! I don't think Hollywood with its cast of thousands and all its money could tell this story vividly as did Sienkiewicz using only the printed word. Believe me, from page 1 you are there. But I wish this was the only reason to read this book. Unfortunately, you can't help noticing parallels with Poland then and the USA now, which are many and disquieting. Two constitutional politcal systems; one a republic, the other an elective monarchy--both relatively pluralistic and tolerant in hostile and violent time. Circling foreign powers. Short sighted quarreling and wrangling among the leaders. A huge border problem; large and less than 100% loyal minorities. Holding all this in check are massively powerful militaries. In Poland's case, this wasn't enough. Poland so exhausted itself fighting internal rebellions and foreign invasions that it was easy prey for partitioning in the next century. So it's a good old fashioned read and a very sobering read at the same time.

East-European History 101

For students of East-European history, a sort of thoughtful GONE WITH THE WIND with footnotes. This Victorian-era, historical romance belongs to an eminent tradition that begins with Walter Scott, a tradition that includes Victor Hugo, Dumas (here the main influence), Pushkin, Tolstoi, etc., etc. Of special note, for a fuller perspective on the subject--the unraveling in the 17c of the grand Polish empire ("commonwealth")--read Gogol's Ukranian perspective in TARAS BULBA (made into a silly Hollywood movie, naturellement, with Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis), Isaac Singer's Polish-Jewish lament in SATAN IN GORAY (calamities effectuate religious enthusiasm, or haven't you noticed?), Daniel Defoe's Anglo-gloating in MEMOIRS OF A CAVALIER, and even Isaac Babel's RED CAVALRY (does the horror of the plunder scene in Kosinski's PAINTED BIRD plunder the gleeful horrors in Sienkiewicz's narrative?; the latter never misses an impalement). The treatment, by the author of QUO VADIS?, would eventually inform Hollywood's world-view: super heroes, super damsels in eminent distress, super villains and sort-of villains (unlike Hollywood, the author follows the aristocratic tradition of granting a brave and skillful enemy his due), no sex (save "Tartar fashion"), and lots and lots of blood and guts (literally; after all, this is East Europe). As I said, Hollywood. Essential reading--along with THE DELUGE (mighty!! Sweden picks on sweet, peace-loving Poland) and FIRE IN THE STEPPE (the mighty Turk picks on peace-loving Western civilization)--for students of European history, especially of East European. The collapse of Poland in the 17c would lead to the rise of two great European powers--Germany via Prussia, and Romanoff Russia. In tone and theme WITH FIRE AND SWORD prepares the reader for 20c European history. Incidentally, tho written by a Polish patriot in the 19c, there is very little of the religious issue either as it may have been felt in Poland or as it helped precipitate the war (rebellion) in the Ukraine (the lords of Poland failed to show sensitivity to the religious sensibilities of Cossacks): a curious omission in a portrait of Eastern Europe in the 17c (but compare with the sequel, THE DELUGE, wherein the shoe is on the other foot). Another aside: Sienkowiewicz's persistent adoration of the decorums of feudalism as a 19c romantic imagined them, tho risible to a 21st century North American (and quite sinister and ominous, unless one trusts NPR), is somewhat in a European tradition that would endure until, and thro, the Great War (WW I); think of Tennyson's "kind hearts and coronets" or read the boys magazines published in England, 1914 - 1918 (or watch Masterpiece Theatre). To cite just one example from our author: on the eve of battle with Sweden's army (in THE DELUGE), the inert, effete Polish nobility (according to the author) suddenly pulses as one with that "inborn capacity of the nobles for war." (For an eminent rejoinder, read Conrad's LORD JIM.)

one of the best historical novels ever

If you've read only "Quo Vadis" (or not even that one) by Sienkiewicz, you must read this one. It's not set in the same time but much later, in the Medieval Poland, a strange mix of civilisation (it was the only real democracy in those times' Europe - even the king was elected by poll!) and savagery. The Chistian Pollons - the most fervent of Catholics even now - of the Middle Eve show alternate sensibility and cruelty, are capable of the most gentle love but could butcher carelessly an opponent, are trustworthy or the biggest liars - and all of them breathe in the pages of this novel. You might have problems with the names - but this is to be expected; you don't have to learn Polish in order to love this book... Young "polkovnik" (equiv. colonel) Skrzetuski falls inlove with a panni (miss) he's only spoken to for a little time. The girl's guardians promise him the maiden's hand in marriage... But as soon as he's away , the Tartars destroy the mansion and all knowledge of the inhabitants is lost. Kept a prisoner by the Tartars, allied with the Kosaks, Skrzetuski is freed only to find his lover gone. The Kosak Bohun, also inlove with Helena, kidnaps the girl and carries her away. As much as he'd want to go to her rescue, Skrzetuski has military duties to fulfill and will go to war instead of finding his heart's desire. But as he desperately tries to put love aside (and never really succeeds) his loyal friends go in search of Helena. Pan Zagloba, the biggest braggart of all times, and young Michal Wollodijowski manage to rescue her from her keepers and even wound Bohun. But after they hide her in a monastery in a protected city, and give the good news to the delighted Skrzetuski, they learn that the city was overtaken by the enemies and the monasteries sacked, the maidens there raped and murdered. Devastated, the young colonel decides to try to find death as a hero or join a monks order, if he'll survive all battles... this is only the mainline and could tell nothing of the beauty of the prose... You actually are transported back in time, all the characters have substance and are credible. You'll want more - and there are more of them. Just have one try... You'll never regret it.

Literature of the highest quality

Sinkiewicz is a genius with a pen. These stories are so complete, so indepth, the character development so real, the plots so intricate - this is writing of superb quality awaiting a miniseries
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