- Hardcover: 359 pages
- Publisher: G. K. Hall & Company; Lrg edition (April 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0783894279
- ISBN-13: 978-0783894270
- Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.2 x 3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 71,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Kingdom of Shadows (Thorndike Core) Hardcover – Large Print, Apr 2001
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More About the Author
It must be daunting for an author to be compared to Graham Greene, John Le Carré and Robert Harris, but Alan Furst's much acclaimed sequence of novels set during the 1930s and World War Two unquestionably demonstrate the virtues of his predecessors: brilliantly detailed backgrounds in which the periods involved are faultlessly conjured up; highly impressive plotting and (his ace in the hole) characterisation that has all the richness and complexity of the very best writers. With Kingdom of Shadows, Furst moves his writing on to yet another level: the sense of danger and foreboding that informs this tale of intrigue and betrayal brings the reader the all-too-rare rush of excitement that only the finest novels in this field can convey.
It's 1938, and a sinister tide of Fascism is growing in strength throughout Europe. Ex-cavalry officer Nicholas Morath (originally from Hungary) returns to his young mistress in Paris's Seventh Arrondissement. He has been helping his uncle Count Janos Polanyi, a diplomat, in his attempt to stop Hungary drifting into an allegiance with Nazi Germany. But this is a very dangerous game for Morath and his uncle, involving double dealing between defectors, SS renegades and British politicians. And as Hitler marches into Prague, Morath's foolhardy country-hopping endeavours grow ever more dangerous.On the level of a highly intelligent espionage tale, Furst demonstrates a masterly command of the idiom, with Polanyi's dangerous odysseys between the Czech fortresses of the Sudeten mountains and the villas of Budapest handled in an utterly authoritative fashion. The driving force behind his narrative is always the struggles within the souls of his characters, and the way the human spirit can survive under the most appalling conditions. Morath, in particular, is drawn with all the complexity and insight that has become Furst's trademark, and we follow his journeys with ever-mounting concern. Furst's way with a passage of tension remains nonpareil, as with this dangerous traversing of a ruined bridge:
Flat on his belly, Morath worked his way across the bridge. He could hear the water as it rushed passed, ten feet below, could feel it--the damp chill air that rose from heavy current. He did not look back, Pavlo would either find the nerve to do this or he wouldn't. Crawling over the weathered planks, he realised that a lot more of it had burned than was evident from the shoreline. Long before he reached the end, he stopped. The bridge trembled and swayed each time he moved.--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A novel of adventure and intrigue in wartime Europe, by an author of the stature of Graham Greene and Robert Harris --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
is the visage (and vandalism) of Adolph Hitler. However, as we well know, this was no mirage and eventually the Nazis were goose-stepping their way down the boulevards of The City of Light. Thus, with this somber--and agreeably frightening--spirit enveloping the continent, Alan Furst's "Kingdom of Shadows" mesmerizes its readers and we wait for the action to play out. Of course, we know the historical outcome, but Furst is able to paint an atmosphere that is both real and surreal.
The Nazis are coming, the Nazis are coming!
Furst's central character forty-ish Nicholas Morath loves Paris, where he's been living for some time now as a (not "an") Hungarian expatriot (which translates, in those days, as an aristocrat!). Indeed, a bon vivant in his own right, Nicholas' life even borders on the boring, despite the prestigious life style he enjoys--his uncle is a count; he moves in and out of Parisian high life.
But he's not French. He's Hungarian and the winds of war certainly are undeniable. He also is privy to the covert Nazi political machinations and, like Cassandra, knows the future only too well. Thus, he is enlisted by his uncle to "help the cause" and he goes about with the energy of a true patriot.Furst treats us to a geography lesson as well,as Nicholas hops, skips, and jumps his way across the path of the German war machine, from Paris to Budapest to Bratislava to Antwerp,and so on. The atmosphere Furst creates works well with the geography of the land, the political climate of the time, and the naivete of much of the "modern world." This is not to say that "Kingdom of Shadows" is dull reading--far from it.Read more ›
Kingdom of Shadows has Furst's favourite city, Paris, as its focal point, but it ranges across Europe in a series of tense episodes as the continent progresses unstoppably towards World War Two. Credibility of place extends to credibility of character. Nicholas Morath, the central figure, is a Hungarian emigré torn between duty to his country and the women he loves: the Argentine hedonist Cara, and the vulnerable Mary Day - also easily believable portraits. Morath's ambiguous uncle, Count Janos von Polanyi de Nemeszvar, is a memorable string-puller from the wings.
This may not be Aan Furst at his supreme best - the tale's episodic nature and the only half-fulfilled ending militate against a fifth star - but it still overshadows most of its rivals.
Each of Furst's novels is very well-researched, and I find I'm learning new aspects of this period in history each time - perhaps because Britain (with the exception of the Channel Isles) didn't experience Occupation - the focus on Continental Europe, and Russia, is edifying. With his depiction of the everyday, mundane moments that contrast with the action and heroism, Furst writes about an era that is incredibly well-documented, yet manages to sustain the reader's interest as if the events are unfolding now. No mean feat.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
No one can beat Furst in bringing to life both people and places as they existed in the years before and during WW2 in mainland Europe. He captures detail like a painter. Read morePublished 5 months ago by aquitaine lover
Less action than most Alan Furst novels but if anything better for it, really gets the feeling of eastern Europe in the run up to WW II.Published 15 months ago by Andrew W. Macfadyen
I republished this book. The detail of the people, places - even the food, kept me wanting more. The only reason I have given four stars rather than five it I would love to have... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Pernod1982
Great read. Have to wonder what it was like back then. Main character is very good and this is worth the time to read. Make a good film.Published 21 months ago by Jason Cox
Very interesting series of books about pre-war espionage which are well-researched and throw lightness on the dark of those yearsPublished on 16 Nov. 2013 by Stig
A good combination of events that keeps one interested in what is going to happen next.
Well researched and surely must have happened to somebody during this period of... Read more