I've now read most of this series and I have to say this was without a doubt my favorite. Although it was lengthy, I didn't want it to end. Loved the history and the characters. I find myself pulling for Kristo and his BF comrades. I've listened to literally hundreds of audible books and this is the first time I've ever rated or reviewed. Thats how strongly I feel about this great piece of espionage literature. But, my main reason for submitting this is to heap praise--that's right - heap, on George Guidall. He's without a doubt the best narrator, especially for these works. Even his women characters sound believable, something I thought impossible. Amazing. His mastery of the various languages and dialects he employs is spot on and I've heard many others who could not pull this off. He and Patrick Tull are the best narrators. IMHO.
Alan Furst creates such a sense of time and place with this novel of a world that has gone mad. The feel of civilization unraveling is quite unnerving, and as always George Guidall ( you either love the guy or hate him..) narrates with what I'd call a determined flair.
I enjoyed this as much as his other Novel, Dark Star, which is set in a similar time and place. The two Stories share the connection of the start of the Soviet Revolution, and although I did not live it- it feels very realistic.
One note: there is much death and violence- after all it is set right before and during World War 2. So, not exactly the "feel good" book of the month- My wife hated it- I loved it!
This story of a Bulgarian spy seems remarkably authentic, portraying what feels like the real life of a man who served the Soviets before and during WWII. The most interesting portion takes place in Civil War-era Spain, and one learns a few tricks of the trade, such as how to find out the password to get thru a roadblock into a town (set up your own fake roadblock and wait till someone tells it to you) and what to do if you discover a beacon for incoming aircraft (don't extinguish it -- move it to where the incoming aircraft will be easy to shoot down). For those who enjoy grim spy realism that in some ways even surpasses Le Carre, this is worth a listen. If you want James Bond, skip this one.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
One of those GREAT, sweeping spy epics. Furst stands right with le Carré (The Spy Who Came in From the Cold), Littell (the Company), and Mailer (Harlot's Ghost) in his ability to capture the ambiguity, color, temperature and texture of prewar Europe as well as the people and claustrophobia of War.
I'm glad I decided to crack this spy nut. While there are segments here and there I didn't think were fantastic, on the whole, the entire novel was worth the time, effort, and credit. Spy fiction doesn't get much better than this. I read/listened to an earlier novel of his a few months ago (Mission to Paris) while traveling in E. Europe and almost ended my Furst journey before it began. I'm glad I went back to the beginning. Just based on this ONE novel, I'm about ready to commit to the next three or four Night Soldier novels.
The book is pretty slow, with lots of characters with similar names and lots of changes back and forth between scenes. I kept confusing different characters and scenes, to the point where I didn't care about any of the characters and just waited for the few action scenes to make things more interesting. It is very difficult to follow in an audio book, but I would guess it is a better read in print.
I am reader who loves detail. But there were just too many people and too many places. It was like a jigsaw puzzle with 1000 pieces. 6 chapters from the end I skipped to the last. It was a wonderful ending and I don't feel I missed anything. Favorite moment...when Sasha and Christo met at the church near the last portion of the book. I wonder if George Guidall could keep up with what he was reading!! 2nd thoughts about sequels....
Night Soldiers seems to be well written in the style of Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. The problem is that there are all of these disjointed vignettes and storylines that never seem to be fully connected and that never quite lead to the exciting page-turner it was seemingly building toward. The author repeatedly uses a technique where the outcome of a scene is left off and a later incident subtly reveals it. This gets old after it happens for the tenth time. I know this is an effective literary device if used appropriately, but it is WAY overdone.
I have listened to scores of good Audible books, but I cannot recommend this one.
It seemed like a great story, but the author overly depends on partial explanations and relying on the reader to understand what is going on. If this was an occasional occurrence it would be ok, but we seem to jump constantly in and out of the story and never seem to understand what is happening. I end up having to back the book up constantly to try and understand what is happening. I still am not quite sure I do. Very laborious to listen to 6 Hours into the book and I have given up.
I have never heard his books before.
I couldn't follow which character was which to tell you well enough anything about them.
The author did not do a good job of fully describing the story. Details were left out, and assumptions were made that left the reader wondering. Very dissapointed as I would have liked the story.
This is a very good listen as it provides a good insight into the inner workings of the operation of the Russian state security agency (NKVD) and intriguingly describes events of the the prewar and wartime Europe through the eyes of Soviet, British and American spies. The book does have several inaccuracies. One small example is the author's reference to the NKVD personnel driving Pobeda (or Victory) cars in prewar Moscow. That is not possible as the car was first built in 1946 in honor of Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. I like Russian and WWII history and pay attention to details. Because of some of these inaccuracies I rated the book only 4 stars.
pros and cons
This is an outstanding book read by an outstanding reader. Alan Furst is almost certainly the best espionage fiction writer in the post-cold war era. Though his closest comparison would be the John le Carre of the 1970s, don't look for tightly knit, organized plots. Furst writes episodically. But also beautifully.