Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Cossacks by B. Bartos-Hoppner

Mitya wants something more in his life than being trapped in the small Russian village he lives in. When Yermak, the great Cossack leader shows up in the village, he follows him for his chance to be something more than a poor trapper. What Mitya finds is that he is now a part of the first conquest of Siberia, a land cruel and wealthy. He finds a brotherhood in the crude band of Cossacks, but he never finds any joy in the killing and fighting that they do. As he begins to question the cycle of revenge and violence that take place between the Cossacks and the Tartars that they are fighting, Yermak's group is pushed to its limit in one of the most forbidding places on earth.

Genre: historical, throwback

Rating: 4/5

Throwback rating: 5/5

Notes: #7 of YA Historical Fiction Challenge

Again, historical fiction that is older doesn't have as much of a problem holding up under scrutiny most of the time. This book is the same. The most noticable thing might be the sort of stiff language the book uses, but there's also the fact that this book was originally written in German and translated, which may account for some of the stiffness. It also made it harder to connect to the characters because of the formality. Mitya is the only one you really feel any connection to, and he's sort of kept at arm's length because of the rigid writing. What makes the book worthwhile to me is the fact that it was written about an obscure historical subject. I've never seen anything fictional about the Cossacks, much less about the original invasion of Siberia. This is a very very strange subject for a YA novel to be written about, but I suddenly want an updated YA novel on the subject. For a history major, this was interesting and showed insight into a culture that most don't know much about. I honestly felt like someone could turn this into a great historical movie, as the novel was a fictionalized version of actual events. This was a strange topic, but so fascinating, I wish someone would expand on it.

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