The Siege

The Siege

Book - 2008
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Random House, Inc.
From Ismail Kadare, winner of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize – a novelist in the class of Coetzee, Pamuk, Márquez, and Rushdie – the stunning new translation of one of his major works.

In the early fifteenth century, as winter falls away, the people of Albania know that their fate is sealed. They have refused to negotiate with the Ottoman Empire, and war is now inevitable. Soon enough, dust kicked up by Turkish horses is spotted from a citadel. Brightly coloured banners, hastily constructed minarets, and tens of thousands of men fill the plain below. From this moment on, the world is waiting to hear that the fortress has fallen.

The Siege tells the enthralling story of the weeks and months that follow – of the exhilaration and despair of the battlefield, the constantly shifting strategies of war, and those whose lives are held in the balance, from the Pasha himself to the artillerymen, astrologer, blind poet, and harem of women who accompany him.

"Believe me," the general said. "I’ve taken part in many sieges but this," he waved towards the castle walls, "is where the most fearful carnage of our times will take place. And you surely know as well as I do that great massacres always give birth to great books. You really do have an opportunity to write a thundering chronicle redolent with pitch and blood, and it will be utterly different from the graceful whines composed at the fireside by squealers who never went to war."

Brilliantly vivid, as insightful as it is compelling, The Siege is an unforgettable account of the clash of two great civilisations, and a portrait of war that will resonate across the centuries.

Publisher: [Toronto] : Bond Street Books, c2008
ISBN: 9780385666633
Characteristics: 328 p. ; 24 cm

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egdi69
Feb 13, 2015

should be read

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zipread
Dec 22, 2011

The Siege by Ismail Kadare This book has all the makings of an engrossing novel. Set in the days of perhaps the fifteenth century, situated somewhere in the mountainous fastness of what was once Yugoslavia, a fortress, a Christian stronghold, is to be enveloped and then destroyed by moslem invaders from the east. What’s novel about this novel is that the focus is on the besiegers --- we see their camp, we walk the lanes of their encampment, we meet their quartermaster, their engineer, their poet. For ever such short snippets, we are given tales of the thoughts of the Christian defenders: not our usual pointy of vue.
There are a few weaknesses to this book. It moves slowly and at times with the intensity of a shopping mall crowd. The language is oddly wrong when Kadare or his translator use terms end expressions that are quite glaringly anachronistic. He stuffs phrases like “out of the loop” and “a real riot” and “up to date”. I don’t think so.
I didn’t get beyond reading about the encampment and the initial siege of the citadel but the book, so far at least, strikes me as entirely too timid, too genteel. Can you imagine “Come, let’s watch the assault for the commandant”, or “Stay by me --- nobody will object”. Sounds more like something out of “Love Story” rather than “The Siege”.

Harriet_the_Spy Aug 16, 2010

A Christian fortress holds out against the larger and better armed Ottoman army. Modern warfare in the form of ever-larger cannons is deployed alongside soothsayers and astrologers; each failure is followed by a ruthless purge of anyone who might be considered responsible. The Turkish commander rules his troops with an increasingly vicious hand and his troops respond by blaming and attacking each other with increasing ferocity.

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mike_wood
Dec 30, 2014

mike_wood thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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