This was one of the moste enjoyable titles I've listened to in quite a while. The book skips from the first-hand, fictional stories of the major characters to an omniscient narrator who puts the stories in a hard historical context. Its initial vignettes reminded me of Chaucer, Twain and even Garrison Kieler. Like the Great Powers, the listener is subtly pulled into the horrors of war and the ethnic cleansing which has plagued the Balkans for centuries. The narrator, John Lee, is superb. His suite of seamless voices and accents believably convey and elaborate each character's nuance.
This book was originally published in 1880 and its age shows. The story is a cross between Horatio Alger and the Perils of Pauline. It strains credulity far past the breaking point. The characters are completely one-dimensional. The narrator's style does little to increase interest. It is ironic that at the end he refers to the book as "The Lion of St. Mary" rather than St. Mark. One positive aspect is that he does different voices, especially female, without the strain or falsetto which plague other readers.
I couldn't recommend this unless one likes period pieces.
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