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on April 25, 2012
I've now read this book in english as well as in it's original french, and absolutely loved it. I find the english version true and precise. The story itself is moving, and the historical context helps one understand a little better the bitter conflicts that continually tear the region apart. couldn't put it down; I strongly recommend Between Love And Honor both for to fans of history and lovers of good romance. great job!
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on July 14, 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a gripping true story of a young man trapped between two cultures, two religions, and two fathers, who must finally chose between them. His choice will mean losing everything that one culture has to offer him.

As the novel opens, a strange scene is taking place in 1855. A lieutenant from the Russian emperor's army is being handed over to a group of Muslim warriors in the Caucasus Mountains in exchange for some Russian women and children who have been taken hostage by the Muslim warriors. The story then goes back in time to explain how the lieutenant ended up in this situation.

Jamal Eddin is the oldest child of Shamil, the Lion of Dagestan and Chechnya, a Muslim spiritual and military leader who has fought a decades-long war to keep his people independent of the Russian empire. Jamal is handed over to the Russians as a child hostage at age 8, and then kidnapped and raised as the adoptive son of the Russian emperor. Both of Jamal's fathers -- his biological father and his adoptive father -- are personally heroic and kindly men to those in their inner circles, but also cruel and bigoted rulers, who can be merciless even to those close to them. Each father wants Jamal's complete loyalty.

We follow Jamal's struggle from childhood to adolescence to young adulthood, trying to hold on to his memories of his Islamic past while adapting to a confusing life in a brutal Russian military school and being a favorite of the Imperial family at court. Just when Jamal seems to have adapted completely to the Russian Christian culture and has fallen deeply in love with a suitable fiancee, he is recalled to the Caucasus. Jamal must decide: will he refuse to be exchanged for the women and children hostages, and retain his increasingly happy life in Russia? or will he sacrifice his fiancee and his career to rescue the hostages, among whom is a woman who was his first love?

The novel reminds us that heroism is not just battle field victories, but the decisions we make when our own interests conflict with decent conduct towards others.

I checked out the author's research -- some of her sources appear in online archives -- and she has done a thorough job reconstructing the moving story of Jamal Eddin. The book also taught me a great deal about the origins of the Islamic insurgency against the Russian government in Chechnya and Dagestan that continues today.
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VINE VOICEon August 2, 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
1.5 stars (I don't quite hate it, but 2 stars seems too generous.)

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 angered me 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. Heck, the man even has his elderly mother whipped for acting as mediator in a push for compromise, because "Allah" told him so. What a jerk. 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.

Stylist 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.
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on August 5, 2013
I don't usually give bad reviews, I can usually find some redeeming quality about a book but this one is just that bad. I had such high expectations for this book and it fell so short of them. I have a fascination with Russian history especially precommunist history. I liked that this story was a novelized true shory or based on a true story and you can certainly tell that the author did her research on the beliefs of the Islamic tribes of the time. However the author was unsuccessful in editting the book so it is palatable for readers. It almost felt as if I was reading a text book. Ms. Lapierre keep pounding her facts into the prose rendering it almost unreadable. I get it the reader has to know how Jamal was raised and his sense of honor when he comes to have to make the difficult choice at the end.

The biggest disappointment of this book was it was not balanced, that is there was so much writing about Jamal's life before he was taken prisoner it was like 2/3 pre-prisoner and 1/3 of the book is Jamal's life after being taken prisoner. The book description makes it seem like a big component of this book is the romantic interest but again that a fell short. As I said this story is based on a true story and the lady in question wrote her own story about her romance with Jamal I would much rather have read that one, it might have had more human elements.

I could go on about how bad this book was but then I would be too much like the author. Ultimately I did not like this book because nothing about it drew me in, I always felt like I was just reading words/text not a story, the book had no heart. It was only sheer willpower and the hope that the book would redeem itself kept me going to the end.

If you are interested in this story do yourself a favor and read it on Wikipedia, you will be saving yourself time and money.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
"Between Love and Honor" is a novel which highlights the characters' dilemma as they must choose between the love each has for another individual and their personal honor. Each must choose whether to remain true to the one they love; to their citizenry; to their beliefs; or to their individual integrity.

Alexandra Lapierre has used the mid-nineteenth century conflict between the Muslims in the Caucasus and the Russian Empire as the vehicle to tell this story. Classified by Amazon as a "romance," "Between Love and Honor" is actually a historical novel which highlights regional and religious conflicts that still exist. Lapierre's grasp of history and her presentation of factual information within the novel evidence the research and scholarship that went into creating this work.

The first 160 pages of "Between Love and Honor" move slowly; I was tempted to give up and put this novel aside. However, upon reading the subsequent portions of the novel, it was clear that reading "Book One" was necessary to the understanding and appreciation of the entire work.

"Between Love and Honor" is not a particularly emotion driven piece of literature. The primary characters are rulers and military men. "Between Love and Honor" reflects those individuals' need to strategize and their ability to compartmentalize emotion. It is only through these actions that each one can make the choice between love and honor.

Alexandra Lapierre has given readers who appreciate an author's scholarship with respect to the creation of a historical novel a fine example of that genre. "Between Love and Honor" is not a book for everyone, but for those who appreciate historical fiction it is a five star work.
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VINE VOICEon September 12, 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
After reading several pages of this book, I realized that I did not care for her writing style and could not finish. I glanced through several more pages, hoping it would get interesting but I couldn't keep with it. She uses way too much description before she gets to a dialogue sentence or any type of story line or action.
The author did her research and has based the book on real history.
Even 100 or more pages in she hadn't even started on the main story.
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on October 28, 2013
Pretty slow read about a very obscure historical period (the Caucasian War of the mid-19th century). I felt for the main character, tossed back and forth between the Russians and the Dagestani Muslims like a hot potato / man without a country. The romance aspects were less than thrilling, as the couple spends so little time together and the lady is barely sketched out. And the ending is unsatisfying. But if you are looking to learn about a time, place and conflict you didn't know about before, it's worth a read.
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VINE VOICEon August 8, 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Again, I ran into another author who writes an (almost) epic tale. Alexandra LaPierre's (biographical fiction) story of the Chechen Jamal Eddin is supposed to be, in fact based upon a true story. Either way, this author demonstrates her skill at telling the Chechen Jamal Eddin's story. You could see everything in your mind that this author lays down. The story is one of Love (Jamal Eddin and his family - father in particular), Honor (Jamal Eddin's behaivour in the Czar's world) and Conflict (the battles he experiences as a child between the Czar's army and his Chechen people (brutal - at least, horrific - at most)).

We are given Jamal's view of this world from his pre-adolescence through his twenties. Along the way, we are given glimpses by others close to him that survived years later to give us their rememberances of the young Eddin. Well-written, well-told.

If nothing else, this (for me) echoed of Shogun. If you've read Shogun, then you know that 1000-1200 pages wasn't nearly enough. That tale left you begging for more. Though the ending was somewhat shocking. I felt that this story was...complete.

I'm glad that I found this book through Amazon Vine. An excellent tale!

I rate "Between Love and Honor"...Five stars (plus)!!

Most recommended - for those who still live to read good stories!!
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on June 29, 2014
This book is absolutely amazing! It was one of the best books I've read. Jamal Eddin is a young Muslim, son of the imam Shamil, stolen as a child by the Russians. It tells his story of trying to stay true to his heritage, his education, his relationship with the czar, his friendships and falling in love, and, well, his great honor. I think the writer did a good job portraying Islam, and Jamal Eddin's life with his family is well-told and gave me a different point of view, a look into values and ideals that are different than my own. One review said it was boring at the start. I was never bored. This book is one of the best I've read.
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on February 21, 2013
Reading stories about others way-of-life gives one a perspective you otherwise wouldn't have. I recommend this book to those who want to know about other peoples religious up bring and different ways of life and a different way of thinking. I found it quite compelling.
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