Aleksy, a Tatar raised by a Polish peasant family, holds in his heart the wish is to become a Polish hussar, a lancer who carries into battle a device attached to his back that holds dozens of eagle feathers. As a Tatar and as a peasant, this is an unlikely quest. When he meets Krystyna, the daughter of the noble who owns the land that his parents work, he falls hopelessly in love. But even though she returns his love, race and class differences make this quest as impossible as that of becoming a hussar. Under the most harrowing and unlikely circumstances, one day Aleksy must choose between his dreams.
“A poor archer in medieval Poland takes aim at the love of his life in this epic novel from Martin. The anxious Aleksy Gazdecki, a young farmhand, embodies the ethnic and political tensions of Europe during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. Born to a Tatar family, he was taken in by Poles and raised a Christian, living with his adoptive family under the leadership of Lord Halicki. Despite his background, Aleksy longs to showcase his talent in archery as a hussar, or soldier, in the service of King Jan Sobieski. He has an unfortunate run-in with Lord Halicki’s sons and realizes that the alluring girl whom he’d seen earlier is their sister, Lady Krystyna. He and she exchange words during a chance encounter; her brothers, though, don’t take kindly to him, and a fight ensues, leading Aleksy and his family to fear Lord Halicki’s wrath. But after a frightening summons, they learn the Lord’s mind is elsewhere, on the incoming siege of Vienna—and by extension, the rest of Christian Europe—by the Muslim Ottomans. Aleksy is assigned to a humiliating role as retainer for Krystyna’s brother Roman, and he’s plagued by the prospect of being unable to fight for Poland on his own or pursue Krystyna’s affection. Meanwhile Krystyna tries to avoid her arranged marriage to Lord Nardolski long enough to find Aleksy again. The believability of this novel, which is sprinkled with period-specific details, is never in question. Martin sets the stage so tidily that the plight of Aleksy and Krystyna, who desire to move beyond the social classes that keep them apart, transcends the historical moment. Underneath the story of the sweethearts’ labyrinthine struggle lingers the question of what it means to fight for one’s country but against one’s relatives—a situation in which Aleksy, as a Tatar, finds himself. Sprawling but never slow, the plot moves naturally from battle to intimacy and back again. A gripping, transporting story of self-determination set against fate.” ~Kirkus Reviews
On the eve of September 11, 1683, a massive Muslim Ottoman horde was besieging the gates of the imperial city of Vienna and had been doing so since the previous July. Now, however, they were just hours from capturing this capital of the Holy Roman Empire. The Turks’ intent was to bring Islam to all of Europe, and this city was seen by East and West alike as the gateway. With the window of time closing for Vienna, the walls were about to be breached on September 12 when the vastly outnumbered Christian coalition, led by Polish King Jan III Sobieski and his famous winged hussars, descended Kahlenberg Mountain to engage the Turks in an attempt to lift the siege. As crucial and consequential as the 1066 Battle of Hastings, the ensuing battle changed the course of European history.
|Publisher:||Hussar Quill Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
We are proud to announce that THE BOY WHO WANTED WINGS: Love in the Time of War by James Conroyd Martin is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells readers that this book is well worth their time and money!
Enjoyed this book. Looking for others by the author.
Martin pens an engaging story full of intrigue with “The Boy Who Wanted Wings.” Set in 1683, an Ottoman/Turkish invasion force has surrounded Vienna, intent on bringing Islam to a Christian Europe. If Vienna falls, so falls Europe. Nations band together to repel the threat. King Jan Sobieski III of Poland gathers his Hussars and Army to join the fight. According to Martin’s historical note, this event was a pivotal one in European history. “The Boy Who Wanted Wings” is told through the fictional lens of Aleksy Gazdecki, a polish peasant who longs to be a Hussar. Though of Tatar origins, Aleksy was raised Polish and Christian. He’s fashioned his own lance and is a good archer. The local nobleman’s sons, Roman and Marek, are Hussars, planning to join King Jan as he marches on Vienna. When Aleksy meets Krystyna Halicki, Roman and Marek’s sister, sparks fly much to the brothers’ disapproval. Aleksy gets his wish to go to war as a retainer for Marek, however he has to deal with Roman’s ire. Will the Polish army help to defeat the Grand Vizar who holds Vienna hostage? Can Krystyna and Aleksy find a way to be together despite his lack of a title and the war that threatens to tear them apart? Martin’s writing is easy to read and understand. The plot and pacing are well balanced. The characterization is spot on. Aleksy is honorable and decent despite the hardships he has to face. Krystyna is spirited and independent, which will appeal to the modern reader. The immediate threat of the Ottman invasion is one readers will connect to as even in modern times, there are struggles with insurgent Islamic forces. One of the reader’s questions asks if Roman’s change of heart in the end is genuine. This is a big change for Roman and for me it doesn’t ring true, as he’s been duplicitous throughout the novel. Roman is the character the readers love to hate. He does have some redeeming qualities, though he is awkward in how he presents them.