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on 4 December 2013
Everyone else who has reviewed this book has given it 4 or five stars, so by simple mathematics I must be wrong, but I couldn't make myself like it no matter how hard I tried. I was stunned to find a writer like Moorcock, of at the very least a progressive bent, espousing - loudly and at length - a stream of anti-Semitic bile that even Hitler might have found a little overwhelming.
I admit that there is a demonstrated strata of Jew-hatred in the UK establishment, but I honestly thought that this writer was above such things, and it is depressing indeed to see him cursing an entire people through the mouthpiece of his repulsive narrator.
All of that being said, the book is not without good points; the research is excellent and his evocation of late Tsarist life impressive indeed. There is a rich supporting cast, first class pacing (at least up until the final hundred or so pages when Pyat is struggling to get to Odessa, which does shade a little toward the dull) and a fascinating narrative. However, whenever one is getting settled into the flow of the story, another steaming slab of crass anti-Jewish rhetoric will flop onto the page and break the reader's (well, this reader's anyway)concentration. It is a little like driving in a luxurious motor car that the driver now and again, for his own mysterious reasons, decides to slam into a wall.
I'm sorry if I've offended anyone by gratuitously missing some clever point here, but this book feels like a hate crime. The quality of the writing, plotting and pacing cannot save it from that. Whatever the joke was, it flew past me, which is undoubtedly my fault. Can anyone explain it for the simple-minded?
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