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Between Love and Honor

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Jamal Eddin Shamil is only eight years old when he is stolen from his native Caucasus Mountains and whisked away by Russian soldiers to the glittering court at St. Petersburg. There Czar Nicholas takes a special interest in his exotic Muslim hostage, the eldest son of Chechen warrior chief Imam Shamil. In St. Petersburg, Jamal Eddin is immersed in imperial life, educated a Jamal Eddin Shamil is only eight years old when he is stolen from his native Caucasus Mountains and whisked away by Russian soldiers to the glittering court at St. Petersburg. There Czar Nicholas takes a special interest in his exotic Muslim hostage, the eldest son of Chechen warrior chief Imam Shamil. In St. Petersburg, Jamal Eddin is immersed in imperial life, educated alongside the czar’s own sons and gradually maturing into the consummate courtier. Through it all, he remains true to the Muslim faith of his father—until he falls in love with a beautiful Russian aristocrat. To marry her he must convert to Christianity, a sacrifice Jamal Eddin is prepared to make for the woman he loves. But he doesn’t realize that there are greater forces at work, forces that have lain in wait for Jamal Eddin to come of age and serve the purpose for which he was groomed. And when he is called to return to his native land and take his rightful place as leader of the Muslims, Jamal Eddin must choose: reject his people to follow his heart or abandon his bride to fulfill his duty. Based on an astonishing true story, Between Love and Honor is a sweeping historical novel in the grand style of Alexandre Dumas and a breathtaking love story of sacrifice and devotion. It was awarded with two prestigious literary prizes upon its publication in France in 2009: the Prix des Romancières award presented by a jury of female novelists, and the Prix Vivre Plus award granted by the monthly magazine of the same name.


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Jamal Eddin Shamil is only eight years old when he is stolen from his native Caucasus Mountains and whisked away by Russian soldiers to the glittering court at St. Petersburg. There Czar Nicholas takes a special interest in his exotic Muslim hostage, the eldest son of Chechen warrior chief Imam Shamil. In St. Petersburg, Jamal Eddin is immersed in imperial life, educated a Jamal Eddin Shamil is only eight years old when he is stolen from his native Caucasus Mountains and whisked away by Russian soldiers to the glittering court at St. Petersburg. There Czar Nicholas takes a special interest in his exotic Muslim hostage, the eldest son of Chechen warrior chief Imam Shamil. In St. Petersburg, Jamal Eddin is immersed in imperial life, educated alongside the czar’s own sons and gradually maturing into the consummate courtier. Through it all, he remains true to the Muslim faith of his father—until he falls in love with a beautiful Russian aristocrat. To marry her he must convert to Christianity, a sacrifice Jamal Eddin is prepared to make for the woman he loves. But he doesn’t realize that there are greater forces at work, forces that have lain in wait for Jamal Eddin to come of age and serve the purpose for which he was groomed. And when he is called to return to his native land and take his rightful place as leader of the Muslims, Jamal Eddin must choose: reject his people to follow his heart or abandon his bride to fulfill his duty. Based on an astonishing true story, Between Love and Honor is a sweeping historical novel in the grand style of Alexandre Dumas and a breathtaking love story of sacrifice and devotion. It was awarded with two prestigious literary prizes upon its publication in France in 2009: the Prix des Romancières award presented by a jury of female novelists, and the Prix Vivre Plus award granted by the monthly magazine of the same name.

30 review for Between Love and Honor

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    5 stars Wow, I loved this ! I listened to the audiobook narrated by Nick Podehl. His narration did not add anything to the book, but neither did it detract. What gave the book five stars is the book’s content. This is a story about real people and real events. You will learn about Czar Nicholas I and others of the Russian court. The events occur in the 1830s-1850s. You learn about the conflicts between the Russian Empire and the Turks, the Austrians and Western European countries, but most import 5 stars Wow, I loved this ! I listened to the audiobook narrated by Nick Podehl. His narration did not add anything to the book, but neither did it detract. What gave the book five stars is the book’s content. This is a story about real people and real events. You will learn about Czar Nicholas I and others of the Russian court. The events occur in the 1830s-1850s. You learn about the conflicts between the Russian Empire and the Turks, the Austrians and Western European countries, but most importantly you learn about the conflict between the Russians of Christian Orthodox faith and the Muslims of Chechnya and Dagestan. You will learn not only the historical details, but even more intriguing is what you learn about the personalities of Nicholas and his family and about the Imam Shamil, the Lion of Dagestan, and his son Jamal Eddin. The main characters are Nicholas, Shamil and Jamal Eddin. You do have to pay attention to the names. You know that Russian names can be confusing and the Caucasian ones are also unfamiliar to a western ear. I think I read that the paper book has family trees. Seriously, I had no difficulty keeping track of who is who because there are not a lot of extraneous characters. The important ones you recognize. Remember I listened to this and that is harder. What the narrator did do was speak clearly and slowly so you could understand the names, although his impersonations of some of the children and women were kind of funny sometimes. These few complaints do not detract enough to warrant choosing the paper over the audio version. Look at the title. It is perfect. This is a story about choosing between doing what is honorable or following your heart. You will learn fascinating details about the personalities of the main characters. You will earn about the ancient conflict that existed between the peoples of the Caucasus and the Russians; this is particularly fascinating given that the conflict continues today. Love is clearly a central theme, but it is not melodramatically played out. If you want that, choose another book. The author beautifully describes both the landscape of the Caucasus and the court life in St. Petersburg. The description of the balls and clothing and customs, they are all to be found within these pages. You learn about Caucasian beliefs and customs too. The contrast between these two worlds is played out in the events of the story and the lives of the principle characters. This is a story where the events will pull you in. This is a book of historical fiction, but it follows the known historical facts. It is true. The research is impeccable. Real history is more fascinating than fiction. I dare you to read this and not be drawn into the story. I dare you to close the cover and be left unmoved. Even the epilogue will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens to the individuals after the story has ended. Even the epilogue delivers a punch. All I can say is WOW. I want to read more by this author. She most often writes about real people. I have previously read [book:Fanny Stevenson: A Romance of Destiny|933707 by this author. I gave it four stars ; I do not think it is quite as good as this one. My review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lolly's Library

    I'm sorry, but I just have to throw in the towel. I gave it the ol' college try (which is a phrase I've used before, but this time is apt as I'm actually going to college; part-time, true, but it counts and... I'm babbling, so I'll be moving on). I gave myself until 150 pages for the story to finally get good and capture my attention/imagination, but it never happened. One hundred and fifty pages in, I put the book down and almost sobbed with happiness because I didn't have to keep trying anymor I'm sorry, but I just have to throw in the towel. I gave it the ol' college try (which is a phrase I've used before, but this time is apt as I'm actually going to college; part-time, true, but it counts and... I'm babbling, so I'll be moving on). I gave myself until 150 pages for the story to finally get good and capture my attention/imagination, but it never happened. One hundred and fifty pages in, I put the book down and almost sobbed with happiness because I didn't have to keep trying anymore. The author obviously did her research. There's a great deal of historical detail: cultural, military, religious, geographical. And it's done in a way which doesn't beat you over the head in a "look at me and all the research I did!" sort of way. Yet, for all that, it didn't capture me or immerse me in either the setting, the story, or the characters. Writing about a culture completely foreign to me, the author failed to connect me to the story even on a basic human level--it started foreign and it stayed foreign. As I read, I couldn't help but keep thinking about Conn Iggulden's masterful Genghis series and compare his writing to Lapierre's. Both stories deal with cultures completely foreign to Western lifestyles and mores, Iggulden's with the Mongol empire of the late 12th and early 13th centuries, Lapierre's with the Muslim tribes of early 19th century Chechnya; both stories are well researched. Yet Iggulden's, even with its foreign subject and the sometimes off-putting actions from the characters, actions which go against Western standards of appropriate behavior, pulled me in to such a degree that I barely noticed the differences between his characters and myself; I felt what they felt, I ached when they ached, I exulted when they exulted. I was in the story. Not so with Lapierre's novel. Her characters were simply names on a page; their actions frustrated, disgusted, and baffled me and I didn't understand their motivations at all. They remained decidedly and defiantly foreign. But what really pissed me off about Lapierre's book was the fact that, even 150 pages in (one-third of the book), we hadn't even started on the main story. Supposedly the novel is about the real-life story of Jamal Eddin, the son of Imam Shamil, who was provided as a hostage to the Russian empire in order to seal a truce of peace between the two warring nations. Jamal, a young boy when he's "adopted" by Czar Nicholas I, grows up in the glittering imperial court and though he maintains his Muslim faith, he becomes an accomplished courtier. However, his faith becomes a problem when he falls in love with Elizaveta Petrovna Olenina, a beautiful Russian aristocrat; in order to marry her, he must convert to Christianity, a move he's willing to make. Until he's called back to his homeland, to his Muslim faith and rightful place as leader, and he must decide: Love or Honor. (Hence the title, see?) Sounds fabulously dramatic and romantic, yet at 150 pages in, we've only just gotten to the point where Jamal's father decides to give in to Russia's demands and send Jamal to them as a hostage. That's one-third of the book gone and we haven't even gotten to Russia yet? As Charlie Brown would say, Good grief! That certainly doesn't leave a lot of time to watch Jamal grow up in the imperial court, which should account for several years, not to mention the development of the romance between Jamal and Elizaveta or the final act to their story. Now, I can see spending some time in Jamal's childhood, setting his character up; I could totally get on board with that treatment. If only that had occurred. Instead, during all the time spent in Jamal's childhood, we really only see his father, Imam Shamil, and his father's actions: Shamil's quest to become the holiest of holy men, Shamil in his holy war to cleanse the world of every single Russian, Shamil as he rids the tribes of all traitors by systematically slaughtering all those who push for peace between Chechnya and Russia, even if that means eliminating entire villages, women and children included. Hell, the man even has his elderly mother whipped for acting as mediator in a push for compromise, because "Allah" told him so. Jerk-off. Not a character to inspire any kind of sympathy in me. So, anyway, it's all Shamil with just a little bit of Jamal sprinkled in. It's very frustrating, not to mention a very questionable move on the author's part. If it were me, I'd show Jamal's childhood from his P.O.V. and only a little bit at that; just enough to set up the situation and his abduction to Russia. Later, as an adult, during dramatic moments, Jamal could flashback to his childhood memories and use them to follow his father's example or avoid his father's mistakes. Stylistic choices aside, this novel, what I read of it, bored me to tears and didn't inspire me to invest any emotions in either the characters or story. Which is a shame because I heard such great things about Alexandra Lapierre and was really looking forward to immersing myself in what promised to be an exciting and romantic novel. A promise which went unfulfilled.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Woods

    Devastatingly beautiful and tragic I'm touched by over-emotional feelings after finishing this tragic life story and eventual love story by Lapierre. This author did a wonderful job of laying out the life of a most honorable and enigmatic young man, Jammal Eddin, first son of the imam Shamil. I have had this book on my "to be read" list for some time, and am so grateful that I was able to read it for free as Kindle Unlimited member. But if I had known how much it would have affected me as a reade Devastatingly beautiful and tragic I'm touched by over-emotional feelings after finishing this tragic life story and eventual love story by Lapierre. This author did a wonderful job of laying out the life of a most honorable and enigmatic young man, Jammal Eddin, first son of the imam Shamil. I have had this book on my "to be read" list for some time, and am so grateful that I was able to read it for free as Kindle Unlimited member. But if I had known how much it would have affected me as a reader of historic romance fiction and nonfiction, I would have paid full price and been thankful to add it to my growing collection of most loved books. Although, at times, it reads a bit like any history book, it includes the "heart of the matter" adding the thoughts, feelings, words and actions taken thereby of the imam, czar, Jammal Eddin and other supporting characters to the historic events that transpired and culminated into a true tragedy of love, honor and betrayal throughout the short life of this man, Jammal Eddin. Lapierre scrupulously investigates and reports this heart wrenching true story that leave my senses reeling from the emotional agony this young man fought, survived and finally expired from with his honor intact regardless of adversity, a constant in his life. I finish by saying I very highly recommend this brutal history of religious fanaticism perpetuated by Christians and Muslims and cultural and ethnic ignorance equally shared during the early to late 1800's in the Caucasus region and Russia. It took my breathe literally!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cher

    1.5 stars - I didn't like it. DNF - Only made it through the first 80 pages (about 15%) before throwing in the towel. I picked up this book as it is part of the Kindle Unlimited program with narration by one of my favorite narrators, Nick Podehl. It starts off as a steady stream of graphic violence and prejudices. The synopsis reports that at some point it becomes a love story, which is interesting given that the beginning is nothing but hate. ----------------------------- First Sentence: As the c 1.5 stars - I didn't like it. DNF - Only made it through the first 80 pages (about 15%) before throwing in the towel. I picked up this book as it is part of the Kindle Unlimited program with narration by one of my favorite narrators, Nick Podehl. It starts off as a steady stream of graphic violence and prejudices. The synopsis reports that at some point it becomes a love story, which is interesting given that the beginning is nothing but hate. ----------------------------- First Sentence: As the coffin of Czar Nicholas I descends into the crypt of the Romanovs in Saint Petersburg, two groups of horsemen gather on the banks of the Mitchik River, in Chechnya.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gina Basham

    I ignored some of the less than stellar reviews (very few) and bought the book. I am so glad I did. This is exactly what I expect from historical fiction. Well researched and descriptions that allow you to engage in the subject matter but a story so entertaining that you can easily follow it. As I started reading I also started looking for information regarding the subjects described. I had to know what happened before I finished the book. Before reading this book I was completely ignorant of th I ignored some of the less than stellar reviews (very few) and bought the book. I am so glad I did. This is exactly what I expect from historical fiction. Well researched and descriptions that allow you to engage in the subject matter but a story so entertaining that you can easily follow it. As I started reading I also started looking for information regarding the subjects described. I had to know what happened before I finished the book. Before reading this book I was completely ignorant of the subject matter, time and place. I now have a slight understanding of some of the events that occurred there and the political climate of that area. The author never claims this book to be the definitive historical account of the conflict, but rather to be a well researched work of fiction. All of that being said, I found the story fascinating. I cannot fathom what it would have been like to try to assimilate twice into worlds so diametrically opposed. The absolute deprivation to absolute grandeur had to be disconcerting to say the least. Although a child, Jamal was very mature for his age and yet still a child. The story was profoundly sad. I have had very few works of historical fiction where I have have actually paused reading to look up other sources for certain accounts of an event. There were so many citations of first person accounts that gave so much credibility to the actions of the characters. I cannot recommend this book enough if you enjoy good historical fiction or are at all interested in an account of some of the events that occurred in that time and place. I intend to read more from this author.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This book is based on historical fact, making it that much more appealing. Props to Ms. Lapierre who put so much effort into her research! Because it's stuffed with so many facts, it requires effort and concentration to get through it. I'm glad the author included a map, glossary, and list of characters (actual people from history). I admit that I would have given up reading this book if Ms. Lapierre hadn't included a teaser of what's to come in the beginning. This book is well-worth the read. I This book is based on historical fact, making it that much more appealing. Props to Ms. Lapierre who put so much effort into her research! Because it's stuffed with so many facts, it requires effort and concentration to get through it. I'm glad the author included a map, glossary, and list of characters (actual people from history). I admit that I would have given up reading this book if Ms. Lapierre hadn't included a teaser of what's to come in the beginning. This book is well-worth the read. I feel so honored to be acquainted with Jamal Eddin Shamil! This book affected me so much that I was sobbing by the time I finished the last chapter. I'm not talking single tear--I'm talking about the kind of crying where I try not to wake my sleeping husband next to me in bed. (Could pregnancy be a factor? I'll only know if you tell me your reaction to this book!) I'm so impressed with Alexandra Lapierre's ability to tell a genuine story from history that I want to read more of her books. I'll have to start with the ones that have been translated from French, of course. :)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Malia

    I can't believe I am rating this so low, and I have to say, I could not finish it, so maybe the second half is utterly spectacular, but all that I did read was so boring! Excuse my lack of eloquence here, but it was just dull. It's not that nothing happened, big events took place, but they were described in such mind-numbing detail, I found them tedious rather than dramatic or exciting. The premise of the book sounded fascinating and right up my alley, so maybe I was particularly disappointed bec I can't believe I am rating this so low, and I have to say, I could not finish it, so maybe the second half is utterly spectacular, but all that I did read was so boring! Excuse my lack of eloquence here, but it was just dull. It's not that nothing happened, big events took place, but they were described in such mind-numbing detail, I found them tedious rather than dramatic or exciting. The premise of the book sounded fascinating and right up my alley, so maybe I was particularly disappointed because of my high expectations. I also believe this book was originally written in French, so maybe some of the original magic just got lost in translation. You see, I'm trying to find excuses, I hate writing bad reviews, but I just couldn't finish it and I didn't enjoy it, sad but true. Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com

  8. 4 out of 5

    Misfit

    Tried three times. bored to tears. Into the recycle bin you go.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Fehler

    When one reads historical fiction (to my way of thinking) it is all about painting pictures about daily habits both personal and social. This lives up to those expectations in a hit and miss sort of way. The book launches from a war prisoner exchange between the Russians and a Renegade Muslim tribe. In a few paragraphs, you are transported back over a decade to the early life of Jamal Eddin, the main character, a royal hostage of the Russian Empire. It takes quite a while to get the child to the When one reads historical fiction (to my way of thinking) it is all about painting pictures about daily habits both personal and social. This lives up to those expectations in a hit and miss sort of way. The book launches from a war prisoner exchange between the Russians and a Renegade Muslim tribe. In a few paragraphs, you are transported back over a decade to the early life of Jamal Eddin, the main character, a royal hostage of the Russian Empire. It takes quite a while to get the child to the point where he is sent to Russia as a hostage for peace. Sometimes the story moves quickly, other times it drags painfully. The one thing that you do get is the emotional atrocity of placing a child in such a state of limbo. Treated well from accommodations to education and religious instruction of his own family, he grows to respect his captors. But as his father's eldest and most beloved son, he is homesick. It is painfully clear over time that is is neither Muslim anymore nor full Russian. Finally as a young Lieutenant in the Russian Light Calvary, Jamal Eddin longs to start living for himself and not the memory of his father who intelligence says has replaced JE with his younger brother. Just as he falls in love and about to marry, the unthinkable happens. This places him in the position to choose between Love and Honor. After the choice is made and the reader is brought back to the first pages of the book, the author should have wrapped it up with a three to four page epilogue. The end of the book was so poorly written that it left this reader quite put off and disappointed. I gave it three stars for grammar, plot, and characterization.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Review is pending....

  11. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Guzman

    I listened to this one on Audible and loved the narrator, and because it was based on a true story, the story line. About a true character in history in the mid 1800's in Russia mainly. The main character, Jamal Eddin, a young Muslim man of royalty given to the Russians as a hostage for 15 years. The story of his 15 years in captivity is the story here which was about his life in Russia and his climb in the military, his involvement with a Russian woman and his friendships. This story was a stro I listened to this one on Audible and loved the narrator, and because it was based on a true story, the story line. About a true character in history in the mid 1800's in Russia mainly. The main character, Jamal Eddin, a young Muslim man of royalty given to the Russians as a hostage for 15 years. The story of his 15 years in captivity is the story here which was about his life in Russia and his climb in the military, his involvement with a Russian woman and his friendships. This story was a strong 3 1/2 stars for me and really beautifully written.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    I listened to this book on tape. The beginning was very violent as they told of the Chechnya Muslims and their codes of honor to the death. The book was thoroughly researched with letters and journey entries to support this true story! I would highly recommend it. It gave a great deal of insight into Russian and Chechnya in the 1800's. Also gave a greater knowledge of Czar Nicholas! I loved it! The reader was also outstanding and made the book come to life! I listened to this book on tape. The beginning was very violent as they told of the Chechnya Muslims and their codes of honor to the death. The book was thoroughly researched with letters and journey entries to support this true story! I would highly recommend it. It gave a great deal of insight into Russian and Chechnya in the 1800's. Also gave a greater knowledge of Czar Nicholas! I loved it! The reader was also outstanding and made the book come to life!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Barth Siemens

    I began reading this audio book, but finally abandoned it for the text version because I was missing too many details. At the end of my Kindle edition, the publisher included a two page glossary and a fifteen page last of main characters and places. Can you imagine how difficult to follow a story without those resources at your finger tips? In retrospect, I opine that the author relied too heavily upon detailed naming and neglected the flow of the story. Too bad.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mimi

    There are many reasons I really enjoy Goodreads, but this book brought home one of them - because I'd scanned the reviews of this, I knew that it was a slow starter. I skimmed through the first section and then slowed up as I got into Russia with the main character. Although it was interesting, it never read like the fiction it is, more like a non-fiction. A sweet love story, though. There are many reasons I really enjoy Goodreads, but this book brought home one of them - because I'd scanned the reviews of this, I knew that it was a slow starter. I skimmed through the first section and then slowed up as I got into Russia with the main character. Although it was interesting, it never read like the fiction it is, more like a non-fiction. A sweet love story, though.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jenn Feldman

    Wish I could give it 3.75 stars. I thought the content was very interesting...I know very little about the Russian/Caucus wars. It was a little too long, but a good story based on actual events. I liked learning about the customs and traditions of the caucus region.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Betty Adams

    A good piece of historical fiction, which was obviously well-researched, and set in a turbulent time. Russian history fascinates me; I found this book to give insight into the problems with Dagostan and with Chechnya.

  17. 4 out of 5

    MaryJane Rings

    I think this was a story documented and well written about a turbulent time in the history of Russia and the Muslim tribes who lived in the Caucasus Mountains. The tribes were warring against Russia for land and independence. A young boy gets caught in the middle and is sent as a hostage to the Russian Czar. He is educated and brought up in the Russian culture with no contact from his father who gave him up He distinguishes himself as an exemplary soldier and student. He never forgets his root b I think this was a story documented and well written about a turbulent time in the history of Russia and the Muslim tribes who lived in the Caucasus Mountains. The tribes were warring against Russia for land and independence. A young boy gets caught in the middle and is sent as a hostage to the Russian Czar. He is educated and brought up in the Russian culture with no contact from his father who gave him up He distinguishes himself as an exemplary soldier and student. He never forgets his root but follows more the Russian way of life. He is only a pawn in a larger game with both his father and the Czar. The book describes the political situation and some of the bloody battles between the two warring factions. It is a short love affair but the policial and diplomatic concerns keep him from the happiness he deserves. I liked this book. Its based on fact and the characters are brought to life and given a voice of their own. The first few chapters set the tone of the book and the way of life of the Muslims. This is brutal and at times a little overwhelming. The culture isn't too different today among the tribes so it still is important as far as understanding what we face today in the middle eastern cultures.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Johanna Markson

    An incredibly well researched and interesting adventure story based on the life of Jamal Eddin, son of a famous Imam from Muslim Chechnya (1830's - 1850's). The description of the insanity of fundamentalism and hatred for the other is terrifying and even more frightening because the fanaticism still exists today. The Imam's main enemy is Czar Nicholas, also a despotic ruler, who raises the Imam's son when the boy is given to the Russians as a hostage at age 6. The boy comes to love the Czar and An incredibly well researched and interesting adventure story based on the life of Jamal Eddin, son of a famous Imam from Muslim Chechnya (1830's - 1850's). The description of the insanity of fundamentalism and hatred for the other is terrifying and even more frightening because the fanaticism still exists today. The Imam's main enemy is Czar Nicholas, also a despotic ruler, who raises the Imam's son when the boy is given to the Russians as a hostage at age 6. The boy comes to love the Czar and is raised among the royal family and all the nobility who recognize and acknowledge his honorable and distinguished character. He sounds like he was a great person who eventually had to give up all he loved and cherished to go back to his father so that hostages taken by the Imam could be released. He was 26 when he went back to his "home" but did not succeed in bringing peace to the troubled area and dies a sad and depressed young man. Great historical details about the place and time.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lillia

    Amazon advertising really misrepresented this book. It is not nearly as romantic as they make it out and it's mostly about Jamal Eddin, the son of a Chechen Muslim warrior imam, who ends up as a prisoner but then "adopted" son of the czar of Russia and all that he goes through, including falling in love with a Russian woman. This author isn't the best at creative nonfiction. The book drags a bit. She does however balance points of view quite well, always striving to avoid villain-hero simplifica Amazon advertising really misrepresented this book. It is not nearly as romantic as they make it out and it's mostly about Jamal Eddin, the son of a Chechen Muslim warrior imam, who ends up as a prisoner but then "adopted" son of the czar of Russia and all that he goes through, including falling in love with a Russian woman. This author isn't the best at creative nonfiction. The book drags a bit. She does however balance points of view quite well, always striving to avoid villain-hero simplification. And in the process, if you stick with the book, you see a trend one sees way too much of: choosing causes over people, the minor players paying the price for the major players' hubris, and way too much dedication to one's own ideology. In the end, it is heartbreaking, as so much of history is.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    Gained insight into Russia- Chechnya history. First half of the book was slow. The second half set in Russia was better. Almost quit reading but I am glad I finished it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marya

    Well written, but probably too slow for most.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Enjoyed the audio version of this saga.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gaenolee

    I was fascinated by this book from the beginning to the end. Even though I figured how it would end, the ending saddened me.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    WOW!! this is a love/hate book. You either love it or you hate it. Not ready to try this yet

  25. 4 out of 5

    Victor

    An Excellent and captivating read

  26. 5 out of 5

    Davina

    as always, wonderful in this contemporary with no fantastic or elements but a surprise in the ending!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    By Alexanda Lapierre, translated by June Lizop A Dramatic Historical Account of Love and Hate This true tale is set during the reign of Czar Nicholas I and Czarina Alexandra when Russia spent many years attempting to subjugate Shamil, third iman of Dagestan, known as the Lion of Dagesgtan, in Chechnya in the Caucasus. It was a custom of that area that in order to maintain a truce the losing side would hand over close relatives to the winning party as a guarantee to maintain the peace. In the 1830s By Alexanda Lapierre, translated by June Lizop A Dramatic Historical Account of Love and Hate This true tale is set during the reign of Czar Nicholas I and Czarina Alexandra when Russia spent many years attempting to subjugate Shamil, third iman of Dagestan, known as the Lion of Dagesgtan, in Chechnya in the Caucasus. It was a custom of that area that in order to maintain a truce the losing side would hand over close relatives to the winning party as a guarantee to maintain the peace. In the 1830s Shamil, as iman and defender of Allah and the Muslims, had been fighting a continuous battle with the Russians who wanted to have a clear passage through the mountains to other areas of Russia. Upon their winning the area, they would extinguish the Muslim faith and destroy the freedom of these mountain people. The Dagestan warriors were extremely able fighters, most versatile horsemen and could live on little in these barren mountains. But being so outnumbered since these Muslims fought to the death, at the behest of the Russian commander-in-chief Grabbe, Shamil turned over his eldest son, seven years old, Jamal Eddin, to Grabbe to give him time to recoup his losses. But Grabbe was not to be trusted and did not keep Jamal with him, but instead sent him to St Petersburg to the Czar. It was the Czar’s intention to keep the boy long enough to turn him into a Russian, but allow him to continue to be a Muslim and keep some of his keepsakes that he brought with him so that one day Jamal would return home as a bridge between the Russian and the Chechnyan cultures. He even encouraged Jamal to write letters home to his father, which Jamal faithfully did, but the Czar never forwarded them on. And Shamil made no effort to contact Jamal, although he never gave up attempting to find him, which Jamal didn’t know. At the time of his abduction, Jamal could not speak nor understand Russian. He had never lived in houses or institutions. When Shamil realized that Grabbe had fooled him, he and his men fought Grabbe’s military, attempting to snatch Jamal back, and in the fight, Jamal accidently received a wound in his arm and almost died. When he was well enough, he was presented to the Czar who treated him like a son and said that he would be housed with other Chechnyan boys and raised in the military. Jamal impressed all who met him because he was reserved, stoic and had a nobility about him like his father, Shamil, who was six feet two inches tall, carried himself like a king, was a true leader of men and fearless. Shamil believed himself to be an instrument of Allah and, therefore, a fanatic. He killed anyone who disobeyed his commands for he believed himself to be the voice of Allah. Over the next sixteen years, Jamal came to love the Czar as a father and since he never had any word about his family, he believed that Shamil had abandoned him and sacrificed him for his own gain. Because of his great horsemanship, stamina, athletic ability and intelligence, with the Czar’s backing, he went through the same military academies that the sons of the aristocracy attended. He was extremely good looking, lithe, masculine and impressed most everyone, especially the women and girls. When he became an older teenager, he finally found Vareka, a princess of Georgia with who he fell in love, but she was married off to a Georgia prince. When he found another, aristocrat, Lisa, and they believed themselves to be soulmates, fate stepped in. The facts set forth here is the outline of a new world that Jamal is thrust into and the author has done an excellent job of dramatizing and setting forth Jamal’s life as it changed: the challenges he faced; his mature wisdom; the unfolding of this man from a wild mountain man to a sophisticated member of the Czar’s family; the emotional pain that he suffered and the stumbling blocks he met. I lived every moment of this story. I laughed and I cried. I cannot adequately say more without spoiling the forthcoming dramas for the reader. I truly recommend this book for all who like their history served up to them as life unfolding. I would give it ten stars, if I could.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    This book is the tragic story of Jamal Eddin, the kidnapped son of the Chechen leader of a Muslim rebellion against Russia in the 1830's. The historical novel recounts in detail the internal struggles of the Iman Shamil to maintain unity in Chechnya and the parallel struggle in Russia to maintain power. Jamal Eddin is sent by his father as a token of good faith while a cease fire is negotiated. However, the Czar decide the boy should be brought to Russia. Jamal Eddin is 'adopted' by the Czar Nic This book is the tragic story of Jamal Eddin, the kidnapped son of the Chechen leader of a Muslim rebellion against Russia in the 1830's. The historical novel recounts in detail the internal struggles of the Iman Shamil to maintain unity in Chechnya and the parallel struggle in Russia to maintain power. Jamal Eddin is sent by his father as a token of good faith while a cease fire is negotiated. However, the Czar decide the boy should be brought to Russia. Jamal Eddin is 'adopted' by the Czar Nicholas and he is included for a number of years in their family leisure time while he is not at the brutal military school. The Czar has conceived a plan to send Jamal Eddin back to his father once he is a young man so that he can establish a lasting subordinate peace with Russia similar to the peace in the neighboring country of Georgia. The elegance and wealth of the Russian nobility is clearly presented along with the struggles of the young Jamal Eddin to maintain his loyalty to his father, fatherland and culture. His undoing is falling in love with a Russian princess and asking to convert to Christianity in order to marry her. The Czar cruelly withdraws his approval and strong-arms Jamal Eddin to return to his father in exchange for a group of royal hostages being held by the Iman. Tragically, Jamal Eddin is unable to function within the confines of his father's inner circle once he returns. He is eventually placed under house arrest by his brother and dies alone and tormented. This was a sad but enlightening story. I learned quite a bit about the traditions of embattled Islamic Leaders and how their theology is used to support such traumatic, cruel actions.... as well as the wealth, poverty and corruption of imperial Russia. Sadly, both still have significance in looking at today's global issues!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book was, as others have stated, extremely slow in the beginning. It did not help that dozens of characters with Arabic and Russian names that seemed similar to each other and yet utterly foreign to my English comprehending brain were thrown at the reader in the first few chapters. At around page 120 I actually came to GoodReads to get others reviews of this book. I was seriously considering putting it down. However, when I realized that I was only about 30 pages away from leaving the Cauca This book was, as others have stated, extremely slow in the beginning. It did not help that dozens of characters with Arabic and Russian names that seemed similar to each other and yet utterly foreign to my English comprehending brain were thrown at the reader in the first few chapters. At around page 120 I actually came to GoodReads to get others reviews of this book. I was seriously considering putting it down. However, when I realized that I was only about 30 pages away from leaving the Caucasus and heading to Russia (thus also moving the story to focus on the protagonist and not his father) I decided to persevere. I am so glad I did. This is biographical fiction. The romance is very Austen-eque. If you are looking for 50 Shades of foreign 19th c. romance, this is not it. That would be scandalous, after all. This book is a great story of a child-adolescent-young man growing up in a world foreign to him; fighting to stay true to his Muslim faith in a world of "infidels". When he falls in love with a young Russian woman, he must decide what is most important to him: faith, honor, love, happiness... The foreign names and places stayed foreign to me throughout the book, but there is an index of people and places in the back which helped tremendously. I must say that in addition to the great story here, I also really enjoyed the "exotic" landscape it was set in - something different from my normal European based history/ historical fiction. I read the English version, translated from the original French. There are some sentences that do not flow well, but overall I feel the author's mood was conveyed well - or I really liked the translator's chosen mood, not sure. This is a true romantic tragedy - all the more tragic because it is a true story.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This novel illustrates a Russian conflict I was previously unaware of: Czarist Russia versus the Chechnyan Muslims of the Caucasus region. The author bases most of her narrative on fact and it's obvious how meticulously researched it is. Be warned, it starts slow, but it's absolutely necessary to establish background for the main character Jamal Eddin, son of the powerful regional Iman Shamil. It was intriguing to witness the Muslim's zero tolerance attitude for corroboration with the Russian "i This novel illustrates a Russian conflict I was previously unaware of: Czarist Russia versus the Chechnyan Muslims of the Caucasus region. The author bases most of her narrative on fact and it's obvious how meticulously researched it is. Be warned, it starts slow, but it's absolutely necessary to establish background for the main character Jamal Eddin, son of the powerful regional Iman Shamil. It was intriguing to witness the Muslim's zero tolerance attitude for corroboration with the Russian "infidels" and they seemed to kill one another for transgressions against Allah as much as they killed Russian invaders. After years of warfare, Shamil sends his oldest son Jamal Eddin to the Russian camp, hoping that this gesture will generate peace. After 16 years, Jamal Eddin is completely assimilated into Russian culture as an educated, highly respected officer. He is enchanted with this world of privilege, becomes a protégé of the Czar, and falls in love with a Russian, only to have to choose between his new life and his heritage. I was so saddened by Jamal Eddin's fate and that his chances for happiness were shattered by his father's pride. The best aspect of the book was seeing Russian society through the eyes of an outsider. Jamal Eddin was in a unique position to have a world of opportunities that he never would have had if he remained in the mountains, fighting against the Russians alongside his father. Don't be daunted by the size of the novel or the prospect of tragedy; it is worth it for the history. I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.

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