From the critically acclaimed author of The 25th Hour, a captivating novel about war, courage, survival — and a remarkable friendship that ripples across a lifetime. During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as. City of Thieves is a historical fiction novel by David Benioff. It is, in part, a coming of age City of Thieves is an amazing book. Everybody should check that. From the critically acclaimed author of The 25th Hour and When the Nines Roll Over and co-creator of the HBO series Game of Thrones, a captivating novel.
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“City of Thieves” follows a character named Lev Beniov, the son of a Benioff's book lets its characters inhabit the human condition in all of its. Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green,. Dublin 2, Ireland. (a division of Penguin Books Ltd). Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Camberwell Road, Camberwell. Sign me up to get more news about Literary Fiction books. Q. City of Thieves begs the question: Did all this really happen to your grandfather? No.
Their mission exposes them to the most ghoulish acts of the starved populace and takes them behind enemy lines to the Russian countryside. There, Lev and Kolya take on an even more daring objective: A wry and sympathetic observer of the devastation around him, Lev is an engaging and self-deprecating narrator who finds unexpected reserves of courage at the crucial moment and forms an unlikely friendship with Kolya, a flamboyant ladies' man who is coolly reckless in the face of danger.
Benioff blends tense adventure, a bittersweet coming-of-age and an oddly touching buddy narrative to craft a smart crowd-pleaser. View Full Version of PW. City of Thieves David Benioff, Author.
They leave the city and go behind enemy lines. At the brink of death, Lev and Kolya encounter a small cottage hosting four young women, who are kept there by the German soldiers to rape at night. Lev and Kolya plot to attack the next Germans to come, and as they start their attack, an unseen group of Soviet partisans launches their own attack. Lev, Kolya, and Vika, a female sniper, venture into a poultry farm outside the city and allow themselves to be taken prisoner by the Germans.
To gain the coveted dozen eggs, Lev must defeat a German officer of the Einsatzgruppen in a chess match. Lev wins the game and, in a subsequent scuffle, kills the German with a knife he has hidden in his boot, while losing his index finger.
He, Kolya, and Vika kill the other guards and escape. As they embark on their quest to find the eggs their friendship progresses, and it's a delight to see it grow. Since the novel is written by Lev's grandson, the wording does not aim to accurately reflect the way people spoke and wrote around the time: Along their way on the quest for a dozen eggs Lev and Kolya meet many colorful characters, all of which are well developed - the author never uses pure stereotypes and cardboard cutouts, and gives weight not only to the main players but to the supporting cast as well.
The sense of war and everpresent danger, is strong in this one, but so is the sense of adventure and fun , despite all the horrors and grimness. Benioff knows how to use dark humor and not sound completely cheesy or over the top, never going into the maudling and overly sentimental territory where many other writers would jump right in to squeeze the emotions out of the reader like you squeeze juice out of a lemon.
The novel charms its reader, quickly weaving its spell, and suddenly we are completely captivated and unable to put the damn thing down. I had so much fun with reading this novel, which was a very pleasant surpriseWhile it is definitely not a straight account of the siege of Leningrad, I can see it as a great gateway for readers to fuel their interest about that particular place and time and it is fascinating stuff.
City of Thieves is suspenseful and engaging, with great characters and an engaging storyline. I had a marvelous time with this novel, which in its compact size managed to contain an engaging story about coming of age during the war, and all that comes with it - the harshness, cold and hunger, but also friendship, adventure and love.
Great stuff! View all 51 comments. Feb 10, Ken rated it really liked it Shelves: But a funny thing sometimes happens on the way to the forum. Sometimes your peevishness gets assassinated. The quixotic quest book offers a little something for everyone. Coming-of-age fans will like it because the protagonist, a tough but runty Russian Jew who is only 17, will worm his way into the apple core of your heart.
Humor enthusiasts will take to it because it is rich with witty badinage, much of it thanks to Kolya, the Red Army sidekick whose libido leads him AWOL and into deep doo-doo with the Russian military.
Together, Lev and Kolya are spared death one for breaking curfew, the other for looking for love when he should have been on guard with his unit if they can bring back a certain colonel one dozen eggs.
But the sights our heroes come across during their journey are anything but laughable and, at times, downright gruesome. War is hell, yes, but it also offers ironies in spades. Ante up, then, because Benioff is dealing. Thus, the suspension of disbelief. Thus, the four stars. Thus, the hearty recommendation, reservations notwithstanding. This one I think you'll like.
View all 8 comments. When I read books, I like to do a little research about the author, time period, the book itself, etc. I was interested to learn that the creator of the video game, The Last of Us, drew inspiration, in part, from this book. The Last of Us is a game my son keeps begging me to play.
In the book, the quest is to obtain a dozen eggs for a NKVD Colonel, so his daughter can have a wedding cake. Leningrad is under siege by the Nazis and people are eating the paste from library books, so finding eggs will take some doing.
In the games, you generally have an end point too, but you can get sidetracked by doing multiple side quests. It would bring a tear to this old soldier, if you could recover it for me. And they wield weapons. And they use magic. Did I mention there is really powerful zombie when you get to the final room? Thanks again. Zeus, bless you!
You could say no, punch the asker in the face, or simply walk away with their pathetic pleas ringing in your ears. More or less the perfect companion. In most of the better games you have companions that you can choose from, usually one at a time. Companions range from drunks, mages, guys who can transform into werewolves, 7 foot pound mutants who are off their meds, smoking hot vampire warriors, automated trolls and talking dogs.
View all 31 comments. May 24, Kemper rated it it was amazing Shelves: A terrific book that proves you don't have to write or pages to have real depth. I'm fascinated by how Benioff managed to describe the characters enduring terrible hardship and the worst of one of the most brutal battles in history, but the book doesn't read as grim or overly depressing.
That's not to say that there isn't real drama, horror and sadness, but the natural humor of characters keep it from being just another book about the horrors of war. View all 3 comments.
Apr 15, Phrynne rated it it was amazing Shelves: What a wonderful book and why have I not read it before? It reminded me of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas both for its remarkable story and the quality of the writing. The book is written as a retelling by the author of his Grandfather's early life, more specifically "one week in , the first week of the year, the week he met my grandmother, made his best friend and killed two Germans.
Various events cause him to meet up with Kolya, a Russian deserter who is only a few years older in years but much more in experience. Together they set out on a ridiculous quest and witness many of the awful atrocities that occurred during that war. The characters of Lev and Kolya are what makes this book. Kolya is by turns funny and infuriating but is always lovable. Their dialogue is frequently hilarious which prevents the story from becoming overwhelmingly sad and horrifying.
The history was amazing - how those poor people survived starvation during the siege! I had not come across "library candy" before. The will to live brings about some incredible invention. A sad, sad ending with a sweet epilogue. I have another favourite book: View all 21 comments.
Aug 16, J. Kent Messum rated it it was amazing Shelves: It's a modern textbook example of how to write a great story. Stories often have their strengths and their weaknesses when all is said and done. They can rely more on character than plot, or vice versa. A story might be strong, but pacing is a problem. Dialogue might come off unrealistic, although narrative hits the mark. In short, most books are a balancing act. There are things done right, and things t 'City Of Thieves' is a rare book, one that fires on all cylinders and almost never missteps.
There are things done right, and things that could have been better. Benioff's third offering is balanced well beyond the average book. There are no pros and cons, no strengths to rely on. The entire work is solid from beginning to end.
This is a damn-near perfect novel and Benioff is a damn-near perfect storyteller. To say any more would be to give it away, but City Of Thieves should be required reading for every fan of fiction. Darkness and light entwine in these pages, opening your eyes and affecting your heart. And although it's fiction, it is based on historical fact.
Just knowing this type of tale occurred in the real world is enough wind you. You'll laugh, you'll gasp, you might even cry. This is one book that will play on your mind long after you've put it down. See what other books stuck with me View all 9 comments. Dec 01, Debra rated it really liked it.
Bring back some eggs he said. My daughter needs them for her wedding cake he says Sounds simple, right? Except this is wartime and eggs are nowhere to be found. The Nazis have invaded Leningrad and Lev Beniov has been arrested and thrown in a cell with a slightly older and more experienced deserter named Kolya. The men are tasked with finding eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel instead of facing the firing squad.
Thus, begins Lev and Kolya's journey through the rough and extremely dangerous str Bring back some eggs he said. Thus, begins Lev and Kolya's journey through the rough and extremely dangerous streets of Leningrad. There they find starving people willing to do the unimaginable to survive. They find danger, friendship, lust, fear, pain and hope. This book is raw and powerful in that it does not hold any punches when showing the hardships of war. People are willing to go to extremes to survive and prove that they are stronger than they look and braver than they think.
See more of my reviews at www. If I wasn't juggling so many other books, I would have easily finished it in a day or two. The World Wars are definite areas of interest for me, but I am always fascinated by the differing perspectives and experiences of individuals depending what country they lived in.
This book explores the day Siege of Leningrad from the eyes of Lev, a seventeen-year-old Jewish boy living on his own soon after his family flees the city. Like all great journeys, Lev is sent on a strange, if not comical, mission that throws him into the company of Kolya, a young private in the Red Army.
As they head past the German line on their quest, they encounter many of the horrors associated with war: Chock full of suspense, adventure, comedy, sadness, and irony, I loved Benioff's style of writing.
He contrasted the seriousness of Lev's personality, and the cocky humorous one of Kolya's, to capture the "Russian experience"—a history of tragedy and sadness told with sardonic wit. Easily one of my favorite reads this year; I highly recommend it! Books like these really bring history to life. This would make an amazing and probably R-rated film. Why hasn't anyone jumped on this? We need to get this into the Cohen brothers' hands. View all 16 comments. Dec 29, Diane rated it really liked it Shelves: It's a World War II caper, everybody!
I highly enjoyed this novel set during the Siege of Leningrad, even though I had just been complaining to my book club friends that I was sick of reading books set during WWII. I thought I had hit my limit of Nazi-related stories, but I was happy to be proven wrong. Many of my GR friends have already read this book, but for those who haven't, I will keep this review free from spoilers.
The short summary is we meet a young man named Lev, who is starving in Leningrad but wants to help defend the city against the Germans. One night, Lev gets arrested long story and is thrown in prison, where he meets Kolya, a Russian soldier who was arrested for desertion another long story.
Lev and Kolya are given an unusual task by a Soviet colonel: They will be released if they can find a dozen eggs. The colonel's wife wants the eggs to make a cake.
How hard can it be to find eggs, you ask? Well, if you're trying to find them when your city has been blockaded and under siege for months, when people are starving and eating bread made of sawdust and "candy" made from the glue of books, it can be damn near impossible. This quest for eggs sets the story in motion, and it is fantastic. I couldn't put this novel down! There are just so many things I liked about this book.
I liked that the writer, David Benioff, wrote an introduction that made it seem as if the story had really happened to his grandfather.
I liked that Lev and Kolya slowly learn to trust each other and become friends. I liked that Kolya was obsessed with Russian literature, and loved to quote from a novel that Lev had never heard of another long story. I liked how Lev grew up during the story, and how his love of chess helped them in their journey. I liked how rich the writing was, and how reading this book made me feel the coldness and the hunger and the fear of the siege.
It's just an incredible story. I highly recommend this novel. Favorite Quotes: Perhaps, though, it is easier to hide your fear when you're afraid all the time. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed. I was born an insomniac and that's the way I'll die, wasting thousands of hours along the way longing for unconsciousness, longing for a rubber mallet to crack me in the head, not so hard, not hard enough to do any damage, just a good whack to put me down for the night.
View all 12 comments. Josh Bragg. I regret not reading David Benioff's superb City of Thieves at an earlier date. I'm hot and cold with WWII stories, which accounts for some of my reluctance in getting this one started. Luckily, my steadfast, book-recommending friend, Josh Bragg, prompted me to pick it off my shelf and give it a read.
It is both the most entertaining WWII story I've read in recent years, and the most emotionally hard-hitting. Benioff is able to bring to life his grandfather's story with enough playful fudging of I regret not reading David Benioff's superb City of Thieves at an earlier date. Benioff is able to bring to life his grandfather's story with enough playful fudging of the facts as per his grandfather's request that it blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction, but reads most like a stunning novel.
City of Thieves introduces the reader to 17 year-old narrator Lev Beniov, a jewish man living in Leningrad during the Nazi siege. Lev is timid, golden-hearted, and on a quest to find his first sexual experience amidst freezing temps and famine.
When Lev is arrested for looting the corpse of a Nazi paratrooper, he is sent on a mission with 20 year-old Kolya to retrieve a dozen eggs for the wedding cake of a colonel's daughter. The seemingly silly premise encapsulates the charm of the novel: The novel's beating heart is its two leads and their relationship. Kolya's boisterous, crude, and relentlessly upbeat attitude provides the perfect foil to Lev's hesitant, unsure teenage lead.
I was often put in stitches by Kolya's off-colour remarks and quips, and Benioff is able to turn a scene from despair to delight with remarkable skill. This ability to go from the harsh realities of war to pure black comedy kept me hooked on this book page after page, and dealt with many of my complaints about WWII stories without every losing their edge.
The book also deftly manages to contrast the friends' locker-room talk with a strong, emotionally resonant, male relationship. Benioff's writing also surprised me.
This book sat on my shelf and I referred to it as "the one by the guy who's the show-runner for Game of Thrones. There are many books in which characters are hungry, cold, happy, or sad, but it is rare the book in which those emotions are felt by the reader.
Benioff had me feeling to bone-chill of Russia in winter, the elation of the leads, the hunger of its protagonists, and the tragedy of of war. I love Game of Thrones , but Benioff would do well to return to the publishing world for a few more books! This book snuck up on me.
It's a charming, enthralling, hilarious, and heartfelt read. I tried to space out my readings to savour Benioff's prose or to spend a bit more time with the characters. The ending manages to be both heart wrenching and uplifting, and stuck the landing far better than I had imagined it would.
Again, thanks to Josh Bragg for this recommendation and I hope it soon finds its way into many of your hands! View all 11 comments. Feb 21, LeAnne: GeezerMom rated it it was amazing Shelves: If you know anybody who hasn't read this, download it for them.
City of Thieves hits all those marks and more. It is not Faulkner or Conrad or Joyce, but it is one of my favorite books ever. It also has the single best ending sentence of just about anything Ive ever read.
The tale reminds me a bit of "Lonesome Dove" if one can imagine old Gus being a charming 20 year old Red Army soldier named Kolya. Yes, maybe that's an odd comparison, but aside from a lot of profanity and some scatological humor he is a 20 year old soldier - the language fits him , I cannot think of anyone who wouldn't love this character and the others. A tiny, red-headed sniper, the scrawny chess player with his gigantic nose, and even Darling, the dinner companion will stay with you for a long time.
All the bizarre horrors and atrocities in Benioff's book are well documented factually, and I actually read two of the author's reference pieces after my first time through the book. Darkly fascinating. Five stars for the story and its historical accuracy.
View all 18 comments. Nov 25, Trudi rated it it was amazing Shelves: In spite of all his irritating qualities, I couldn't help liking a man who despised a fictional character with such passion.
Just because there's bad news doesn't mean there's good news, too. So much. In fact, I'm in real danger of descending into embarrassing fangirl babble and I really don't want to put you through that. This book deserves so much more than my barely coherent praise I want to heap on top of its "I was half asleep but I smiled.
This book deserves so much more than my barely coherent praise I want to heap on top of its modest, unassuming frame. So before I proceed any further I want to draw your attention to two excellent reviews that made me want to pick up City of Thieves and read it in the first place -- Maciek and Steve. Thank you gentlemen. During my university days, I majored in 20th century military history. To say I was vastly outnumbered by my male classmates would be an understatement.
I was -- for a time anyway -- a curious anomaly, one who was more often humored and patronized, than taken seriously. But with a subject so vast and sprawling you have to pick your concentration or you'll walk away from it having learned nothing of value.
So I chose the Western Front because that's mainly where my countrymen fought and bled and died. While I did my due diligence to keep my attention fixated on the Battles of Britain and the Atlantic, Dieppe and Normandy, I couldn't shake the desire to read more about the day siege of Leningrad -- the starvation, the desperation, the cannibalism. Conditions on every front were a nightmare tableau of death and destruction, but the Eastern Front had the added torture of the bitter, savage cold.
Bullets, bombs, starvation were one thing -- that frigid biting air able to cut a man in half and take his fingers and toes on a whim was something else. In City of Thieves , Benioff transports us to the Eastern Front, into the frozen streets of Leningrad in the midst of the German's siege. Here we meet two boys -- Lev, 17 and Kolya, Strangers to one another when the story begins, Lev and Kolya will have just one week filled with peril, misadventure, terror, laughter and tears to forge a bond that normally would take decades.