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Victus: The Fall of Barcelona, a Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 9, 2014
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“With extraordinarily gut-wrenching descriptions of bayonets, bloodshed and battle, and the terrors and tribulations inflicted upon besieged Barcelonians, Piñol makes real a tragedy that shaped Spain and Europe.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“It is not often that you encounter a book that you feel will be read with the same fervor 100 years on but Albert Sanchez Piñol’s fourth novel, an ambitious historical epic…is magnificent in scope and details.” (Upcoming4me.com)
From the Back Cover
In this sweeping tale of heroism, treason, war, love, and regret, Albert Sánchez Piñol breathes new life into the infamous siege of a legendary city.
At the turn of the eighteenth century a dark cloud looms over Spain. Her "bewitched" ruler dies without a clear successor, pitting two of Europe's most powerful kings against each other for control of the crown. Caught in the crosshairs of war, the Catalonian state finds herself in a bloody contest for independence. Abandoned by their allies and outnumbered tenfold, the defiant and ill-equipped citizens of Barcelona defend their homeland with vicious determination.
Martí Zuviría, an accomplished military engineer and tactician with the power to change history, leads the defense against the Bourbons, but he is torn between his loyalties and his purse. Politically ambitious yet morally weak, Martí fights on both sides of the long War of the Spanish Succession, carefully navigating a sea of Machiavellian intrigue and betraying the city he was commended to keep.
Rich in color and characters, abundant in epic battles, and illustrated with stunning portraits of war, Victus is a magnificent literary achievement that is destined to become classic.
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That I didn't know or remember learning about the War of the Spanish Succession feels shameful to me, because it was such a big and important war. This war was about who would succeed Charles II, the last of the Hapsburg kings of Spain. But it was also about territory and Spain possessed by far the largest empire.
Pinol tells the story of the siege of Barcelona through his character, Marti Zuviria. This was the third siege of Barcelona during the War of Spanish Succession, and it occurred in 1713-1714. Pinol used vast historical records from the period, as is the case with great works of historical fiction.
Marti Zuviria was a military (combat) engineer. Much of siege warfare is about combat engineering so the use of this character made the story feel accessible to me, and horrible. The horrors of this war told the way Pinol tells it help to make this book gruesome in a way from which it is impossible to turn oneself away. I got hooked right at the beginning and could not stop even though I wanted to stop.
Not much can be said about Marti Zuviria without introducing spoilers. The history is known though. Bourbon forces surrounded the city, reinforced and prevailed in the end. Those that enjoy military historical fiction will almost certainly like this book as do I.