Monday, July 11, 2011

The Turkish Gambit

By Boris Akunin.
"And is it moral to sit and watch from a safe distance while people k-kill each other?" It was a miracle, there was actually a trace of human feeling - irritation - in Erast Petrovich's voice. "Thank you k-kindly, I have already observed this spectacle and even p-participated in it. I did not like it. I prefer the company of T-Tacitus" - and he demonstratively stuck his nose back in his book.
The second novel in the Erast Fandorin series, 'The Turkish Gambit' takes the form of a spy novel, with the protagonist of the previous book; Erast Fandorin, taking a back seat to the principal character of a young idealistic and adventurous woman named Varvara Suvorova. Set against the back drop of the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-'78, Varvara has travelled to the front line to be with her fiancé Pyotr but no sooner has she arrived than she finds herself in a series of desperate situations and constantly being rescued by Erast Fandorin.

Varvara's obstinate views means she resents Fandorin's aid, even as she is obviously attracted to him, but whilst Fandorin might reciprocate her feelings, he is still hurting from the pain of losing his own fiancé (when they were bombed at their wedding).

This second novel doesn't quite live up to the first, partly because the character of Varvara Suvorova just isn't that interesting, and partly because Suvorova is often removed from the centre of events, leaving the reader with a constraint that might feel annoying. I enjoyed the story, but I was stupid enough to look up the plot on Wikipedia so I knew who the traitor was.

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