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on 11 September 2002
This is the sequel to 'A Time of Gifts', and continues the young Leigh-Fermor's walk through the length of 1930s Europe. Here we start from where the previous book left off, at the border into Hungary, and continue through until the Iron Gates border between Rumania and Bulgaria. I immensely enjoyed 'A Time of Gifts', and this book is the perfect companion to it. It is a seamless mix between the world seen through the eager eyes of the nineteen-year-old Leigh Fermor, and a wealth of historical, geographical, linguisitc, and anthropological information, which must have taken most of the intervening decades for him to research. The one drawback of the book is the envy it is bound to create in the reader -- envy of his ability to take a journey such as this in a time now past, and envy (for those who also try to write) at the magnificent prose with which he has captured his memories. Patrick Leigh-Fermor's place in the ranks of the great writers of travel literature is already firmly established, and this is surely one of his finest. If reading this book doesn't inspire you to embark on a journey of your own, then I can only suggest you read it again, only this time with your eyes open.
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on 31 March 2017
This is hypnotic travel writing – Moldavia, Tartary, Bessarabia, Transylvania, Carpathia, Wallachia, Bohemia, Wolves, Bears, Eagles, Saxons, Slavs, Counts, Gypsies, Shepherds, Hussars with scimitars, Austro Hungary, Byzantium, Ottomans, Habsburgs, Mongols, Huns, Goths, Teutonic Knights… endless descriptions of people, towns, castles, scenery, nature, language, history, culture, clothes, food, songs… names and places that have a fantastic and timeless exoticism described with a crystal clear realism. Completely mesmerising.
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on 15 May 2017
An excellent book for those interested in life, at all levels, in Central Europe before the Second World War. It is also a good travel book with regard to the Danube and its people. Not an easy read at times because of the words used by the author or perhaps the limits of the education of this reader.
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on 12 June 2017
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on 26 July 2017
very interesting
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on 19 April 2017
Excellent! WONDERFUL prose and so informative.
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on 22 July 2017
In a nutshell: WOW
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on 22 August 2012
While precise memories of events must have faded in the fifty years between the journey and the book, the context benefits from the breadth and depth of the man's reading. It made me want to read all his other books (done that) but also to read all that he has read (no chance). I have never come across a better descriptive writer. My son, who is a well read engineer and a harsh critic of pretty much everything, was impressed with this quality. In one of his other books, about the Mani, he mentions, in discussing his home there, that every home should have at least two shelves of reference books. I bet he had a lot more than that.

Buy it, read it, and then go buy his other books.
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I bought this second volume about the author's European walk for my son-in-law after we'd both enjoyed A Time of Gifts, which described the first part of his journey. This book covers his walk from his entry into Hungary to his arrival at the Iron Gates, the gorge on the Danube which forms part of the boundary between Romania and Serbia (a third volume, The Broken Road, which completes the journey to Constantinople, was published posthumously). This volume is perhaps more reflective than the first, describing the landscapes and people he encounters as he crosses the Great Hungarian Plain on horseback, crosses the Romanian border into Transylvania and walks down the Danube to the Iron Gates. Once again, it's the vivid, unforced quality of the writing that brings what he's seen to life for the reader - for example, [p82]:

"Scattered with poppies, the golden-green waves of the cornfields faded. The red sun seemed to tip one end of a pair of scales below the horizon, and simultaneously to lift an orange moon at the other. Only two days off the full, it rose behind a wood, swiftly losing its flush as it floated up, until the wheat loomed out of the twilight like a metallic and prickly sea."

A real pleasure to read (even without having read the first volume, I think) - highly recommended.
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on 5 October 2008
I read both of Fermor's books of his trek from UK towards Instanbul in sequence, and enjoyed both hugely. It was a great pity he never produced the projected 3rd volume! This (2nd) volume covers his travels through Hungary and Romania, largely by being befriended by local people and being in turn passed on to their friends, so he had the enormous luck of not only their open-handed hospitality but also of their local knowledge. Many of these characters are compelling: I especially loved the studious land-owner who opened the conversation by asking what was Fermor's special research topic. He was clearly disapproving that the 19y old had not got one, and was only mollified by his evidently wide classical reading. Fermor writes perceptively and sympathetically, but his beguiling account is bittersweet as one knows that he is describing a region and people who are on the brink of the horrors of WWII and the dead hand of prolonged totalitarianism. The book ends with an exciting ferry ride through the Danube's Iron Gates gorge - which seemed so spectacular that I decided to visit the place asap, only to discover that it had since been submerged by a dam put up in later more utilitarian times!
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