Book Club – City of Thieves by David Benioff

City of ThievesTwo young men meet for the first time in a jail cell, awaiting the quick execution for war crimes. Kolya, the charming, but lying soldier and Lev, too young to be a soldier but not too young for execution, set off on an impossible task to “buy” their freedom.

David Benioff’s story, which is an actual tale of his grandfather, has been hailed as brilliantly drawn.



Linda: (How did you pick the book?) Browsing the book store. I pick up the book, read about the author. He was cute. Once I finish, I forget everything about it! If you ask me what I’m reading, when I’m reading it, I don’t know the title. This book was different. It stuck in my mind forever. His writing, I remembered things from it. I wanted to save that sentence, save that paragraph. The story has an ingenious plot, and I loved the truths about life that all the characters expressed. I asked myself “If you were in that situation, why would you go after the eggs, why wouldn’t you just escape?” (responses from the group- where would they escape to?) The guy wasn’t afraid of anything EXCEPT people not liking his book. For years, this has been my favorite book. Stars: 5.0

Robin: This was a fast read for me. I had not read a good book in two weeks and I was happy to find such an engaging tale. This story drew me in to the point that I wasn’t “analyzing” the writing, which is always a great thing for me. Some of the focus on certain topics puzzled me, until I remembered that this was a grandfather telling his grandson the story. Then the sex, the bantering, the attempts to relieve the emotions of brutal horror, made more sense. With all the current wars reported on the morning news, this story brought to the forefront the horror suffered by all during bombing and starvation associated with wars. Rate: 4.25 stars

Lynne: Before I read it I thought it was a murder mystery – because of the title. Whatever I read, it’s about timing. When I started the book, I was in a war of the families, my head wasn’t in the right place (I was on vacation). This story was an example of what we learned from the “How to read literature like a professor” book -a journey, personal growth, he had a set idea about the kind of person he was, then proved himself wrong. On one hand you have this horrible war, starvation, murdering people right and left, and yet, you have this relationship that is humorous. Even though it didn’t start out that way. You just loved that guy, Kolya, who took Lev under his wind. You have to have humor, friendship or how could you possible survive all those terrible things?. Part of the story was so depressing, the horrible ugly things being done, not only in this book, but in the world right now. Rate 3.8 which might be higher if I read it again with different timing.

Kristina: Just cut and paste my review from last time. The characters were good, I am liking it, but I’m only at 90% – but I love it. I don’t remember the expressions you all are referring to. They must not have made a big impression on me. It was a good formula, the right amount of “trudgery” across the snow, nice balance. I did like the scene with the colonel’s daughter on the ice. A little motivation to get the eggs and get back for the wedding. The two conditions – let her go and get us the eggs. Very tidy plot, tight. Loved that Kolya was writing a book and testing it out on Lev. Rate 4.7

Paula: I really enjoyed the book, glad I read it. There were times where the way people treated each other was so appalling to me, and the language that they used towards other human beings was shocking to me. I loved the language he used to describe the characters and how they engaged with each other, fun to follow throughout the story, very enjoyable. I sat on the edge hoping the very best for their survival. I did learn some expressions I would never have dreamed existed. Rate 4.7.


Note: Many members of the group had the experience of hearing about the current Ukraine problems just after reading this story and it was an emotional experience. Thinking about the horrors that the people were going through. Maybe we all need that experience.


Speak Your Mind