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Nov 16, 2017wordsaremeaning rated this title 4 out of 5 stars
If you took out all the characters who exist just as political mouthpieces or uninteresting interludes (I'm not even convinced that Avdotya or her suitors are necessary characters) this would be a really interesting investigation of the psychology of ends justifying means. But it's varyingly fascinating and tedious, and I have to wonder if this story simply needs an update. Outside its historical context (any book which needs 30 pages of endnotes to be explained is really only of historical importance) this is actually not a very well told story. That said, large parts of it are fascinating, and it has a delightfully gruesome style that I'd never experienced before (I'm not a big reader of fiction). I'm sure some will disagree with me, but I'd still say that even if you're only reading it to say you've read it, there's something to enjoy here. It's only occasionally the kind of book you have to trudge unwillingly through to get to the good parts.