Customer Reviews for

Blood of Victory

Average Rating 3.5
( 10 )
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  • Posted July 13, 2010

    I must be missing something.....

    Review of "Blood of Victory" by Alan Furst.

    I had heard that Alan Furst wrote these fantastically-detailed rich narratives about the years leading up to World War 2. Since I find that period in history fascinating, I thought I would try one. I chose "Blood of Victory" primarily of where it was set (Istanbul), rather than any other reason of the several novels he has written.

    My primary impression after reading it was disappointment. The narrative meandered and had I not known the "goal" of the protagonist from the dust jacket, I would have been completely lost for the first half of the story. In fact, 'story' is a somewhat generous term. The book is divided into five sections, each longer than a traditional chapter and having the quality of almost being distinct from each other. The plot-to the extent there is one-is loosely built through these sections before coming to the conclusion.

    There is precious little description of settings and people in this book, which was particularly disappointing because it is just this element that I was looking forward to. There is virtually no character development, both in terms of description or change through the course of the book, even for the protagonist, Serebin-we know as little of him at the end as at the beginning, and indeed, we don't really know how the events of the book affect him. Neither Furst nor Serebin provide any insight into his history, his motives, his thoughts or desires. He meanders through life, apparently just skimming along the surface, not getting truly involved in much of anything to any real depth. The cities that Serebin passes through in the course of the story are just as vague-no real description (even clichéd) are presented to the reader.

    Furst is sometimes compared to Le Carre', although I think this comparison is much more in Furst's favor. Le Carre is absolutely masterful in his descriptions and characterizations. When you finish his books, you know the characters as close as a personal friend, you have seen what they have seen, heard what they heard, and smelled what they smelled. You have walked a few miles in their worn old shoes. They may both write espionage novels, but that is where the real comparison ends.

    Perhaps this novel is an example of some new technique whereby the author (or at least the self-appointed professional critics) claim brilliance in the writing because of what he doesn't say. One could, I suppose, observe that the lack of description or development of the primary character in the book conveys more effectively than actual description or development ever could. The looseness of the plotline conveys in the brilliance of absence the idea that the plots of our lives are just as vague and meandering. To be descriptive or specific would just be to be dishonest because nothing is descriptive or specific. If this diagnosis was actually legitimate (or, more frighteningly, actually accurate) then we are all doomed to die a horrible death by postmodernism in which everything is defined by what it isn't rather than what it is. It's silly. By this logic, I could have composed the most profound novel in the white space between this paragraph and the previous-if you will simply give me credit for everything I could have said, but didn't.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2003

    MOODY AND NOIR

    Another dark, dreamy, complicated historical espionage novel from the master of this genre. Nobody does Eastern Europe during WWII better than Alan Furst. Furst is to WWII as Le Carre is to the Cold War. Both write with great style and skill and their anti-heros are portraits of honorable men trying to do the right thing during times of great madness.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2004

    wow...

    Enjoyed this novel immensely. Thoughtful, serious-minded writing that captures the desperate times of that particular period. The action is intense when it occurs, but does not try to carry the story. Anyone interested in gritty, realistic spy novels from WWII-era need look no further.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2003

    My First Furst NOVEL

    Absolutely Boring. I have never, in all my years of reading novels, not finish a book. It took me two days to struggle past the first 57 pages--then I gave up. It was just too slow for me. If all of Furst's books are like this, then I know that his writing is not my cup of tea. I hope that other readers enjoy it, but I wish that I could get my $12.95 back. Oh well!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted May 15, 2011

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