I’ve always enjoyed historical fiction dealing with World War II, and City of Thieves is an excellent novel pertaining to the siege of Leningrad. When seventeen year old Lev Beniov gets caught pilfering items off of a dead German paratrooper, he is convinced his young life is over. The Soviet’s demands on it’s citizens during war were brutal. Obedience or death. As he sat in the dark of his cell in the Crosses, he becomes acquainted with Kolya, a 20 year old soldier accused of desertion. But fate had different plans for these two. A Russian Colonel, faced with food shortages, has a daughter whose wedding he must provide for. He enlists Lev and Kolya with a seemingly impossible task – finding a dozen eggs for the wedding cake.
The story created by Benioff is memorable for several reasons. First, the seige of Leningrad is a dark subject. He cleverly provides comic relief in the form of these two friends, whose youthful bantering allow us to see the reality of the situation without dragging us to the depths of despair. Second, Benioff is a remarkable writer. His attention to detail and his ability to flesh out characters via impressive (and humorous) dialog make this a very visual and entertaining book. Lastly, the story of these two young men in search of eggs in a starving city, provides a great plot and makes for a real page-turner.
The fact that David Benioff is the very successful screenwriter/producer of the HBO series Game of Thrones should be no surprise. The great bantering dialog in City of Thieves would translate well to the screen.
I’m looking forward to reading more novels by David Benioff!
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2008