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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Maze
The historical note at the beginning of this book sets the scene for this early 20th century Greek tragedy. In 1919 an expeditionary force from Greece landed in Ottoman Asia Minor ostensibly to protect their countrymen from the Turkish majority. The true intention, however, was the annexation of the Mediterranean Ottoman regions to Greece. This occupation lasted until...
Published on 2 May 2004

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great
I picked up this book because of my interest in the subject provided by "Birds Without Wings". This book definitely suffers in comparison and is a strange journey that never really gets going. I can't say that I looked forward to picking it up during the time it took to read it, but look back with fondness on it now that I have finished it. It has a slightly surreal...
Published on 18 Mar 2007 by Mr. Simon Clarke


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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Maze, 2 May 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Maze (Hardcover)
The historical note at the beginning of this book sets the scene for this early 20th century Greek tragedy. In 1919 an expeditionary force from Greece landed in Ottoman Asia Minor ostensibly to protect their countrymen from the Turkish majority. The true intention, however, was the annexation of the Mediterranean Ottoman regions to Greece. This occupation lasted until 1922, when the Greeks, routed by the Turks, fled to the coast to evacuate Asia Minor.
The Maze is a fictional story about a brigade of Greek soldiers, fleeing the Turks and heading for the coast. They are lost in the barren, inhospitable and, at times, impassable desert as we are introduced to a variety of characters headed by a Brigadier who is past retirement age, disillusioned, with a passion for Greek mythology and totally dependent on morphine as a way of dealing with the predicament he now finds himself in. Other main characters are Major Porfirio, the Chief of Staff, who is driven by his own demons, the aide who follows the major down the path to self-destruction and the brigade Chaplain who is slowly driving himself and the brigade insane under the weight of his aspirations.
However, it is the medic who, although not fully qualified, is dependable, efficient and unbelievably accomplished when it becomes apparent that he has acquired most of his skills during the campaign. With the help and co-operation of his illiterate, but dedicated and loyal, orderly he manages to distribute medication, kindness and a semblance of stability among an increasingly unsettled and irrational group.
A disastrous decision under attack (retrospectively told), a series of thefts and the anonymous distribution of revolutionary handbills help undermine the Brigadier's authority and sanity, thus increasing his dependency on morphine and his Chief of Staff. A plane crash, and the saving of its wounded pilot, provide the catalyst for the denouement.
In the meantime, the brigade stumbles upon a small Anatolian town and takes up residence, thus upsetting the status quo of the settlement which has, for centuries, maintained deep Christian and Muslim divides.
This is an absorbing book, full of flawed but believable characters, a plot to intrigue and descriptive prose which transports the reader to the terrible wasteland of tired minds and bodies and dry, inhospitable desert.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great, 18 Mar 2007
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Mr. Simon Clarke "simbadiow" (Isle of Wight) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Maze (Paperback)
I picked up this book because of my interest in the subject provided by "Birds Without Wings". This book definitely suffers in comparison and is a strange journey that never really gets going. I can't say that I looked forward to picking it up during the time it took to read it, but look back with fondness on it now that I have finished it. It has a slightly surreal feel to it which in hindsight is intentiional as it parallels the frequent tripping by the morphine additcted Brigadier. All of the characters in their own way were suffering from one afflction or another and looking at it this way the author has certainly triumphed in writing what he wanted to achieve. Whether the book has achieved the readability enjoyment hoped for by the reader is questionable.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So-So Debut Novel, 31 Aug 2004
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Maze (Hardcover)
I read this for my book group, and like the other seven members who read it, found it to be a floridly written and somewhat interesting work that never seems to go anywhere. Part One of the book finds a Greek army unit wandering lost in the Anatolian desert at the tail end of the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-22. (One of the book's minor flaws is that other than a three sentence prologue, it doesn't give the reader any context for what the Greek army is doing in Turkey.) In any event, we meet only a few members of this dispirited unit, who are wandering in circles in the desert in their attempt to evade the Turkish army and make it to the sea, where they will be evacuated. At the head of this ship of fools is Brigadier Nestor, who hides from the world in his books of ancient mythology and vials of morphine. Meanwhile, Major Porfirio, the number two in command, wages a secret Communist propaganda campaign to little effect. Then there is the priest, who left his small parish to pursue his vision of being Apostle to the Anatolians, and is slowly going mad. The bulk of the wandering is shown through their eyes, although a Corporal, the Medic, and a downed pilot also play minor roles. For these first 140 pages, not a lot happens. The unit wanders a few miles a day, they start running low on food and water, and that's about it.
Part Two begins in a local village, and introduces its cast of stock characters. There's the buffoonish mayor who's literally gotten fat off his office. His fiancee, the sophisticated foreign courtesan stuck in this dreary backwater. The schoolmaster, and the shopkeeper, neither of whom make much of an impression, an alcoholic newspaper correspondent, and finally a maidservant and a gardener who emerge as the only two people to really find happiness. The Greek soldiers manage to make it our of the desert and arrive at this town, shaking up the established order. Which makes it sound more exciting than it actually isómake no mistake, this is a slow novel. Events do build up to a fairly tragic climax which never feels fully paid off or legitimate, or even climactic, and the brief epilogue ends things on much more of a whimper than a bang. The overall effect one walks away with is that Karnezis has stiched together a series of unsubtle character studies revolving around the frailty and pitfalls of belief and what it takes to be happy in life.
The writing is a bit of a mixed bag, which at times is very atmospheric, and at times too baroque and overdone. In the same vein, some of the similes are quite nice, but they frequently misfire and occur far too often. Although, it has to be acknowledged that it's quite impressive writing for someone who is writing in their second language. Characters rarely feel alive, and few have distinct voices. There are some nice moments of humor mixed in, gentle comic touches that provide a welcome change from the general defeated tone. Also scattered in are references to Greek mythology, which are footnoted and laboriously explained. There are no doubt, a number of biblical references mixed in as well, but as someone who never read the Bible, they passed me by. On the whole, it's not bad, just not that great, and I would hesitate to recommend it to others.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Maze, 19 July 2011
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Mr. Charles R. W. Jamieson (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Maze (Paperback)
This is a book with a simple structure upon which characters and twists create a true maze of life. Written with care, love and sensitivity it shows in depth a number of
characters.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Isn't this a bit too much like Birds without Wings., 22 April 2005
By 
Jim (the Philippines) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Maze (Hardcover)
Is it my imagination? Sure the writing style is florid but what strikes me most is that the collection of characters in part2 are almost identical to "Birds without Wings" with the characters in the first part being similar to characters in Captain Corelli's Mandolin.
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The Maze by Panos Karnezis
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