Learn more Download now Shop now Browse your favorite restaurants Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

Customer reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
The Czar's Madman
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£18.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 7 July 1999
I discovered this book while in Moscow and thoroughly enjoyed it. As a big fan of most things Russian, particularly it's history & literature, I found this book hard to put down. I recognise the earlier review's comments insofar as it helps if the reader has a (basic) knowledge of Russian history since real events and characters are often mentioned without any introduction or explanation (I rather enjoyed that as it jogged the memory). The narrative, supposedly written in the early-mid 19th century, is written (presumably artificialy and therefore even more impressive) in a style that will be recognisable to anybody familiar with the 19th century Russian classics - this so as to appear a manuscript from that period. Above all, this story is brilliantly put together.
0Comment| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
VINE VOICEon 9 January 2012
Timo Van Bock, a Livonian aristocrat, is incarcerated by Czar Alexander in a remote prison for crimes unknown, and released nine years later on grounds of insanity. But what forced the Czar to imprison one of his former favourites, and is Timo as mad as declared?

A journal discovered years after the events in question, written by Timo's brother-in-law Jakob, relates the lives of Timo and his associates in the periods before and after his sentence. And when Jakob himself discovers a journal written by Timo, the reasons behind the Czar's rage begin to become evident.

It's a storyline with great potential, and while Jaan Kross's novel is historically rich, subtle and philosophical, it's harder going than it should be. An affected style, slow pace and numerous uninteresting minor characters rob the narrative of suspense too often. For those with a knowledge of Russian history deep enough to grasp the context of the events that unfold and understand Kross's various allusions and inferences, this may be enjoyable. But a lay reader without prior knowledge is likely to find the novel a struggle at times, which is a shame as it probably rewards the effort.

Style: 5/10

Structure: 7/10

Originality: 5/10

Depth: 5/10

Unputdownability: 4/10
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 27 April 2008
I was given this book by a group of Estonians, Jaan Kross being an Estonian writer. I thought it would be one of those books that end up in your bookcase doing nothing, but gave it a try anyway. I wasn't dissapointed. Even though I don't know that much about Russian history, the book gives enough clues to not have to learn all about it first. It has definitely made me want to discover other books of Estonian/Russian writers, something I never thought would happen.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 26 November 1997
After a trip to the encylopedia for a quick refresher on CzarsAlexander I and Nicholas I, a look at the atlas to realize that Estonia is very close to St. Petersburg and a dictionary search for "Livonia," The Czar's Madman became a fascinating novel of post-Napoleonic Russia. Clearly Timotheus ("Timo") von Bock, an Estonian aristocrat, has been effected by the French philosophes and the Age of Reason. His ideas are "mad" by Russian uppercrust standards.
The narrator of the book is Timo's brother-in-law, Jakob, whose journal writing over 32 years gives the reader a glimpse of many richly detailed and vivid characters and locations. This literary devise lends an air of unfolding mystery. While writing about life going on around him, Jakob emerges as a character, with all his human flaws, that we care about.
Kudos to the author and the translator.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Customers also viewed these items

Treading Air

Need customer service? Click here