Revew: City of Thieves by David Benioff

Title : City of Thieves city of thieves 3

Author: David Benioff

Pages: 387

Genres:  Fiction, Action, Historical, WW2

“ truth may be stranger than fiction, but it needs a better editor.”

An insane search for eggs in a city under siege where the majority of the residents are starving to death.  Escaping execution for looting, 17 yr old Lev along with his cellmate Kolya are given the seemingly impossible task of locating a dozen eggs for a wedding cake in Leningrad under siege in exchange for their lives.

“One week in 1942 when he met my grandmother, made his best friend and killed two Germans”

City of Theives 1The freezing winter of 1941 and Lev is alone and hungry in the city of Leningrad. His mother and sister  have been evacuated to the countryside which is soon occupied by the German army. He sees a German parachutist descend into his street dead and already frozen solid and with his gang of friends goes and investigate, with terrible consequences.

Kolya a charismatic young man accused of deserting his red army unit and Lev fruitlessly search the besieged city then have to come up with a better plan.

The book is narrated in the first person by the Lev, a Jewish young man as he tells the tale to his grandson.  The story is set in World War II Russia and the overall theme of this book appears to be hunger and the deprivation  and desperation that goes with being a poor person in a city under siege.

David Benioff is most well known for his co creation  of the Game of Thrones TV series he has also written another novel (the 25th Hour) and a collection of short stories (When the Nines Roll Over and Other Stories).

I really enjoyed this book,  the pacing is excellent and it was a difficult book to put down.  I am not alone, goodreads it currently rates it at 4.28 stars which is nearly as good as it gets. The feeling of desperation among the people of Leningrad was a very emotive topic in the book and the sadness of otherwise young and healthy people starving to death was poignant.

I loved the character of Kolya, he stops the book becoming depressing as he is constantly optimistic and although driven by his libido so much that it has got him into trouble he is still hopefully charming throughout.City of thieves 2

This book talks of the desperate things people will do to survive in wartime.  And due to the island nature of Leningrad, and the fact that the Nazi’s had destroyed all the bridges the city was totally cut off from the rest of Russia.  This was also one of the coldest winters on record so people were also struggling to keep warm along with starvation.  There is violence in the this book, and fairly graphic descriptions of it but the violence is not without purpose it drives the plot and provides the motivation for the main characters to do what they have to do.

About the Author:David Bentioff

David Bentioff is an author of two books and a screenwriter and  is probably the most well known for his part in the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones from of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire  novels.    His first novel the 25th hour was published in 2002 and is about a young man caught dealing drugs and is due to start his prison sentence in the morning, does he run or do his time?

City of Thieves


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