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Winter Fire
     

Winter Fire

by William R. Trotter
 

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William Trotter's critically acclaimed fictional debut explores the deep forests of Finland with Nazi intelligence officer Erich Ziegler, a gifted orchestra conductor swept up in the maelstrom of war. Laden with the magic of Norse legends, the savage power of the northern forests, and the horrors of the Finnish and Eastern fronts, this tale burns with the fuel of

Overview

William Trotter's critically acclaimed fictional debut explores the deep forests of Finland with Nazi intelligence officer Erich Ziegler, a gifted orchestra conductor swept up in the maelstrom of war. Laden with the magic of Norse legends, the savage power of the northern forests, and the horrors of the Finnish and Eastern fronts, this tale burns with the fuel of timeless music and an ancient civilization. Called upon to investigate the loyalties of the highly cultured Finns and keep them allied to the Nazi cause, Ziegler meets the famed composer Jean Sibelius. Obsessed by the genius of Sibelius's mysterious Eighth Symphony and bewitched by a beautiful servant named Kylliki, one act of defiance against his superiors lands Ziegler in the middle of the fire and ice of the Russian front. When he returns from the apocalypse of total war to the home of his revered composer and beloved forest maiden, he has been transformed into the ruthless soldier he once professed to despise. Exhibiting his outstanding knowledge of military battles, and his peerless mastery of place and the cadences of music, Trotter has written a timeless novel for historical fiction fans, military buffs, music lovers, and those fascinated by Norse mythology.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Historian Trotter ( A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939 - 40 ) ably draws on his area of expertise for his first novel, although his narrative occasionally strikes melodramatic chords. Rising conductor Erich Ziegler is drafted into the Wehrmacht and sent to the Arctic in June 1941. Surviving the grueling winter, he becomes a roving liaison (read: spy) in Finland and a friend and protege of the great composer Jean Sibelius. In Sibelius's woodland hideaway, Erich falls under the spells of the northern forest and of Kylliki, a beautiful young kitchen servant. Wounded in further action, Erich recuperates at the Sibelius estate, where he wins more than Kylliki's hand, conducts the Fourth Symphony for the master's 79th birthday and hears the composer's piano version of the long-sought Eighth Symphony. Convinced he possesses tickets to postwar success and bliss (the debut of the Eighth and Kylliki), Erich is shattered when both composer and woman deny him. Although he clearly limns the twists of Finnish wartime policy--from belligerence with Germany to alliance with Russia--and the horrors at the Finnish and Eastern fronts, Trotter mars his debut with an overly contrived ending. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Trotter ( Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940 , LJ 7/1/91) uses a blend of mysticism, music, greed, and ambition to craft a wonderful story set in World War II Finland. German intelligence officer Erich Ziegler is also a conductor. While on duty in Finland, he meets the composer Jean Sibelius, becoming a frequent guest at Sibelius's forest lodge. As their friendship grows, Ziegler learns that Sibelius's long-awaited eighth symphony may exist. But after angering his superiors, Ziegler is sent to the Russian front, where he thinks only of Kylliki, a servant who works for Sibelius, and the symphony. Ziegler is determined to be the first to present the symphony to the world. Trotter contrasts the brutality of war with the humanity of music. He vividly depicts the Finnish countryside, the extreme cold of Lapland, and the horrors of the Russian front. Yet he remains focused on his story and does not allow the inhumanity to take over. Recommended for most collections.-- Karen Stewart, Colorado Legislative Council Lib., Denver
Kirkus Reviews
A passionate tale of deep, mysterious Finland forests and complex moods in the music of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, ably set in the fire and ice of WW II by historian/first-novelist Trotter (A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40—not reviewed). Erich Ziegler, a promising young conductor whose career is interrupted by the Nazification of Germany's musical culture, first experiences the war on the frozen tundra near Murmansk. Rescued by his classical background from the front lines, he's drafted into military intelligence and sent to ferret out information from Finnish troops in the guise of a Wehrmacht liaison officer, but a chance sighting of Sibelius en route to his post quickly leads to friendship with the aging recluse. As a member of the composer's inner circle, Erich falls in love with a beautiful, enigmatic woman who is Sibelius's servant but whose forest ties have given her unusual abilities. The couple's relationship is interrupted when Erich allows pride to cloud his judgment during a command orchestra performance for Hitler, committing an act of defiance that lands him on the Russian front. There, he suffers severe shock from the battle conditions and is hospitalized, eventually returning to Finland at Sibelius's request. Although frustrated by the composer's refusal to acknowledge the existence of his long-awaited Eighth Symphony, Erich still prospers as his prot‚g‚; and after barely surviving the all-out Soviet assault on Finnish positions, he returns to the maestro's retreat to be given a solo performance of the work by the composer himself. But brutalized by the war and convinced that the score is about to be destroyed, he betrays both hishost and the love of his forest maiden, running away to meet a tragic fate. Excessively melodramatic on occasion, but still a stunning evocation of Finnish landscapes, myth, and music, while the desperate conditions under which war was waged in northern Europe are brought savagely to life.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786712571
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
10/25/2003
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
464
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

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