Reviewer: Theresa Goldrick
This book takes place in 1814 Europe, during the German Russian occupation of France. It was originally written by Karl May in German and translated into English by Robert Stermscheg. This book is a historical fiction. While the story was good and the plot well laid out, I did find this book was not in the genre that I usually read. I would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction, but personally, while trying to spread my wings to different genres, I couldn’t get absorbed into this book.
Reviewer: Jane S. Daly
Stermscheg has done a marvelous job of translating this book into English. It’s a historical romp through France during Napoleon’s reign. Lots of romance, adventure, and larger than life characters. Don’t start reading it until you have lots of time because you won’t want to put it down.
Reviewer: Carol Brown
To properly review this book, I had to review on two levels—the translation and secondly the novel by itself. But let me say to begin with that I loved this story!
The translation was masterful. I quickly became immersed in the storyline and completely forgot about the translation. That indicates native fluency with both languages, English and German. Sentences were so fluid and grammatically correct that I could not discern whether English or German was the translator’s first language. And I am a retired English As A Second Language instructor! I have had students whose first language was German in my classes. If the translator had been less fluent I would have encountered some German constructions or places where the English felt “wooden.” The only times I found the language a bit stilted were places that accurately depicted the types of “courteous” exchanges between individuals during that period. They reflected the social mores of the day rather than any problem with translation.
I should also commend Stermscheg for his ability to find equivalent language for idioms. Idioms are very difficult to translate—often making no sense whatever in translation. Such was not the case here. It should also be noted that this is his first work of translation. Bravo! It’s brilliant.
The novel by Karl May is a wonderful romantic historical fiction set during the German-Russian occupation of Paris in 1814 before the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. I found it a delightful read, albeit a massive 400 pages. It follows the young lieutenant, Hugo von Lowenklau who became a protégé of Field Marshall von Blücher. He rose meteor like from walking the streets of Paris, where he met and fell in love with the heroine whom he repeatedly rescues from one near tragedy after another, sometimes by himself but often with the assistance or advice of his mentor, to a position of spy for von Blücher himself. His information influenced the movements of von Blucher’s troops, which resulted in the final overthrow of Napoleon.
In one sense the novel follows the classic plot of “put your characters in an impossible situation...and then make it worse!” However, the formula does not detract from the story’s ability to draw you in. So I conclude that is also a masterful plotting job to keep that kind of formula grabbing the reader!
The characters are well done as well. You love the hero and heroine and despise the antagonists. You cheer for their success or demise...and the pages fly!
I would readily recommend this book. Especially to lovers of historical fiction and romance novels as this novel incorporates both genre.
Reviewer: Janis Cox
I loved this story. It's a fascinating fictional look at the war times between France and Prussia around 1814. It involves the return of Napoleon to France to try and recapture what was lost. The Prussian General Blücher is a central figure in the story.
I didn't know much about this time in history but after reading The Prussian Lieutenant I feel I know a little more and it has enticed me to research further into those times.
This work is a translation of a German writer, Karl May. Robert Stermscheg has done a marvellous job translating May's work into our modern English- no mean task when the original is from 1870s with colloquial German which I know we would not understand. Robert has even added fascinating translation notes at the back.
Besides the history, the story and the characters become real (even if they are not). I was captivated by the characters and the action. I cannot wait to read the sequels.
It was a story I couldn't put down and I found myself wanting to set aside more time to read. Thank you Robert for a truly inspiring read.