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Blood of Victory (Thorndike Core) [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Alan Furst
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 2002 Thorndike Core

November, 1940. I.A. Serebin, a writer from Odessa and former decorated Hero of the Soviet Union, is on his way to Istanbul following a cryptic letter from a former lover.

Ostensibly there on official business for the International Russian Union, an émigré organisation based in Paris, he is drawn into a clandestine world of international spies and political players. With war in Europe drawing nearer, Serebin is recruited by the British secret services - his mission to stop the export of Romanian oil to Germany.

In a race against time, Serebin's journey will take him from the glittering salons of Paris to the back alleys of Bucharest and the Black Sea ports, in a covert operation to staunch the flow of oil, the precious 'blood of victory'.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 443 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (Dec 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786249153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786249152
  • Product Dimensions: 24.5 x 16.2 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,600,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alan Furst has lived for long periods in France, especially in Paris, and has travelled as a journalist in Eastern Europe and Russia. He has written extensively for Esquire and the International Herald Tribune.

Product Description


'Intensely romantic and nostalgic, but with a pounding, bullet-riddled climax on an icy river guaranteed to make your hair stand on end. Prime quality. Fiction to engage the heart and mind.'Philip Oakes, Literary Review 'Blood of Victory is the latest, magnificent addition to an oeuvre that oozes class at every pore...hugely entertaining and, in its portrait of a Europe gone mad, where ephemeral pleasures must be savoured to the hilt, extraordinarily poignant.'David Robson, Sunday Telegraph 'It is not the plots of his novels that set Furst above the competitors in his genre; it is a combination of the beautifully oblique writing and way in which he can produce a charged atmosphere with just a few sentences...How I envy anybody who has not yet discovered his writing.'Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph '...well written...absorbing...extremely readable.'TJ Binyon, Evening Standard 'Aware if the millions of words written about this period, he [Furst] wishes to add only those that are strictly necessary. The effect, rare in thriller fiction, is to leave you wanting more.'Mark Lawson, The Guardian '...Furst takes the reader to the back alleys abdglittering salons of 1940 with uniquely compelling authenticity.' CRIME TIME'Downbeat spy fiction that perfectly evokes a war-weary, double-crossing Bucharest. Ideal paternal Christmas giftage.' FHM '...Furst is careful to ensurethat not all loose ends are tied up: that, and the multi-layered characterisation of Serebin is another way in which the new novel has the kind of weightmore typical of fine literature than the thriller genre.'Barry Forshaw, Amazon 'Furst is not afraid to challenge the reader, and his radical reinvention of the espionage novel is the happy result of the authority and fastidiousness of his writing. The multi layered characterization of Serebin and the care Furst takes to ensure that not all loose ends are tied up give this novel thekind of weight more typical of literary fiction than the thriller genre.'Good Book Guide In the States it has reached no. 14 in the Publishers Weekly bestseller lists and no. 20 in the New York Times. 'Densely atmospheric and genuinely romantic, the novel is most reminiscent of the Hollywood films of the forties, when moral choices were rendered not in black-and-white but in smoky shades of gray.'The New Yorker 'He [Furst] glides gracefully into an urbane pre World War II Europe and describes that milieu with superb precision. The wry, sexy, melancholy of his observations would be seductive enough in its ownright - he is the Leonard Cohen of the spy genre - even without the sharp political acuity that accompanies it.'New York Times 'Furst expresses the singular acuity of his historical vision in an exact, nearly telegraphic pose thatrelies heavily on sentence fragments and rapid-fire sequences of images to capture the extraordinary complexity of his characters' political and personalreality. His writing is eloquent in its factual, fatigued simplicity.'New York Times Book Review 'Blood of Victory is stunningly well researched, packed with historical detail and thick with atmosphere.'Time Out New York 'Furst has researched the historical background, as he always does, and the chronologyof four crowded winter months would be enough to keep us panting. But, though there are trysts and narrow escapes aplenty, Furst's settings matter more than politics, incidental intrigues more than international ones, social skirmishes more than armed encounters. Atmosphere is all, especially in spy thrillers, and Furst is a master atmosphere-spinner. Understated sentiment, deprecatory charm, digressions aplenty, more nuances than action, more subtlety thanslaughter, hints, nudges, whispers and incredible stories one would like to believe are the ingredients of his style. The recipe has worked before, and he --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Book Description

Utterly gripping spy thriller set in the glittering world of European high society, just before the Second World War. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
On 24 November, 1940, the first light of dawn found the Bulgarian ore freighter Svistov pounding through the Black Sea swells, a long night's journey from Odessa and bound for Istanbul. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprising 20 Dec 2003
By A Customer
I'm not a particular fan of spy stories, and I picked this book up without any great expectations. However I was pleasantly surprised. This is not genre writing as such, rather good literature. It is well written, has strong, well drawn characters, and has the knack of creating totally believable and engrossing scenes. The setting is interesting, and I was very impressed with the historical detail, and the knowledgeable interpretation of complex events. Perhaps best of all, however, was the way the book captured the alienation of individuals exiled from their own countries, drawn into a web of espionage in order to resist the Nazis. No simple judgements here, just a fine slice of realistic writing. I shall be reading anything by Alan Furst I can lay my hands on, and recommending him to anyone who will listen!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not His Best Outing 25 Mar 2003
This is the fifth of Furst's seven WWII espionage novels I've read, and not one of his best. To be sure, it has all the trademarks of his work: good writing, dedication to period detail, oppressive and dreary atmosphere, exotic locales (Paris, Istanbul, Odessa, Belgrade, etc.), a middle-aged loner protagonist caught up in the espionage intrigues of the time, love interest, a blurry web of operatives. But that's the problem—if you've read a few of his books, you've basically read this one. The characters (especially the heroes) in his books are all starting to run together rather distressingly, and he's over-reliant on atmosphere to carry the minimally plotted stories. What's worse is that the pace of this one is absolutely glacial, there's barely any thrill in the thriller!
The gist here is that in 1940 the Allies are desperate to interdict German access to the vital Romanian oil fields. Having tried to sabotage them once before, they're faced with a tough problem. Paris-based Russian émigré writer I.A. Serebin is drawn into a plot to resurrect an old spy network in an attempt to strike a blow. However, Serebin's recruitment into this venture is never really convincing, and the weaving of the plot is so oblique that it's hard to get drawn in. It's as if Furst is so faithful to building the shadow world that his characters live in that he's forgotten about the reader. Which is not to say this is an awful book or anything, just that he's written better and might benefit from straying a little further from the European theater he's set seven books in.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 7 Aug 2009
This is (was) my first Furst (no pun intended) and it's surprising to see that a reviewer in the Sunday Times suggests 'the sophistication of Robert Harris or Sebastian Faulks'; this is shown on the front cover of the edition I was reading. Sorry, this novel comes nowhere near Harris or Faulks. The sentences are almost staccato. Fine, if it's intended to be avant garde, post-modern prose! For me, it really was disappointing and I gave up at page 83. Incidentally, having read Montefiore's Stalin - At the court of the Red Tsar recently, that was useful because some of the historic characters appear. However, there are just too many characters in Blood of Victory for me to keep track on - there are more in Montefiore's biography but, for some reason, it was not a problem then.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More tales of the Balkans. 6 Feb 2013
By Wordy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Another of Furst's detailed tales of intrigue and espionage set in war torn Europe . Not five star , the plot wanders a tad too far, but an absorbing read all the same. Furst always impresses with a detailed knowledge of the history and geography of his subject matter. As Lord Reith would approve, he manages to inform, educate and entertain once again. Recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alan Furst pulls off another caper 22 Feb 2003
Trademark atmospherics, a loner hero with lovers in exotic towns, a carefully rendered historical setting (European Theatre 1939-41) -- all these tell us we are in the midst of another thriller by Alan Furst. This time, the references are even more oblique - tho the obligatory reference to the bullet hole in the restaurant mirror is there - and there is a fog-like uncertainty about proceedings. Our unlikely hero is a volunteer - and finds himself in harm's way in a somewhat improbable way. (Why is he there?) At the ending he fetches up not trumps but at least....
The idea is to block movement of oil from Roumania to Germany. Sabotage to the Ploesti oil fields has been tried; it failed. Now the agents who've signed on with the British come up with another scheme. They plan to obstruct river passage up the Danube. This scheme requires cooperation from long-forgotten friends, careful timing, and middle European semi-competence. Good story with a satisfying solution. Compare to "From Russia with Love" by Ian Fleming. But read the first Furst first: "Night Soldiers".
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Brilliant - the quality of the writing is up there with the best. Others have likened his writing to Graham Greene. I would not shrink too far from that suggestion. The characters are interesting and have depth. The plot is fascinating and sucks you in. This is Tintin for adults - and I can think of no higher accolade.
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5.0 out of 5 stars very atmospheric 11 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Any book by Alan Furst is always a great read for its atmosphere. His research and geography is excellent to the point where I am there sitting in the same room as his character. The pace is so believable with the occasional flash of violent action out of the blue producing a result which affects the major scene of the war just a little to be acceptable and credible. Always interesting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Another tour de force
Alan Furst is as good and convincing as ever in intricate tail of attempts to block oil supplies to Germany by blocking the Danube. Read more
Published 11 months ago by David Owen
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I am going to reread this book , because the detail of what happened on the Danube, in Romania etc. is new to me & I do want to try to fix it in my poor unwell brain. Read more
Published 13 months ago by blossom
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good one from Alan Furst
I travel to Central Eastern Europe often and I like looking for references in the book to places that I have been. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr Stephen James
4.0 out of 5 stars Another solid Furst
Plausible story of intrigue in central Europe in the build up to World War Two. Good page turner. Neat plot.
Published 15 months ago by jpm
4.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Alan Furst
Furst has never written a bad book. I'm working my way through his novels for the second time. His heroes are unusual; this time it's a Russian emigre poet. Read more
Published 21 months ago by David Lowther
4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps not his best but still an exceptional thriller
Alan Furst is the modern master of spy thrillers. He has that fantastic ability to create believable characters set against well researched historical detail all of which make for... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Magic Dougal
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating medium paced Furst genre
A very good, well paced read. Mind candy. You get into it fast; a comfortable Furst scenario; middle aged Russian emigre; leftist but not Stalinist, intellectual, sexually... Read more
Published on 10 July 2012 by London Rat
1.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable holiday read
I must admit I was disappointed by this book. From the glowing reviews, I thought I would be utterly gripped but I wasn't. I found it plodding, disjointed and superficial. Read more
Published on 21 July 2004
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