More Thoughts on With Fire and Sword by Henryk Sienkiewicz #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

Before I dive into my ongoing thoughts about this story, I’d like to share that the 3rd Edition of my award-winning historical short story collection, Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure, releases tomorrow, December 6. I’ve added back in the photos from the 1st Edition that were dropped by the 2nd Edition publisher. You’ll find a new Foreword by an Army Historian, too. I did a bit more digging into some of the more esoteric questions in the girls’ biographical information and added some new insights into their lives. I’ll give more details about the book below this post for those of you who want to know more. Now onto today’s post…

Last time I gave you my first impressions of With Fire and Sword by Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz, which is turning out to be easier to read than I first thought. I have found this adjustment period to be true whenever I read classical literature or any writing from previous centuries (except the 20th, of course!). Inherently, the language—word choice, cadence, nuance—has changed since then. Reading this novel set in the 7th century Ukraine and written in the 19th century would undoubtedly require a bit of a mental adjustment as to the expectations with regard to the vocabulary and phrasing.

Oh, I should share that Hoopla updated their app and now when I return to the story the app takes me back to where I left off in this lengthy tome. Makes it much nicer to pick it back up!

Comparing the bloody, devastating war of the 7th century to the present war in Ukraine is also rather depressing. I have a sense of “some things never change” for the Ukrainian people. I want them to change! I wish for peace and security for every single person impacted by the awful war. The destruction in the past came about from direct hand-to-hand fighting, fires (intentionally set), and disease/injury. Destroying everything in their path, the fighting armies inflicted physical and emotional ruin. I’m doing some research into the Reconstruction Era in Alabama, and the scenes Sienkiewicz describes in this novel are reminiscent of the destruction at the end of the Civil War in Alabama. The things people do to one another… It’s shocking and yet repeated throughout history. Why do we do this to each other?

The more I read, the more I enjoy the story and want to return to find out what happens next. The novel is very long and has a lot of characters, some with similar long names. I sometimes mix up who is who, but the actions and thoughts of each soon sort that knot out. Writing about historical events can be hard to do clearly since so much was happening at any one moment. All the players, as it were, each doing their own thing but those actions combining to yield a certain result. I don’t know how many of the characters are real personages from the past and how many are invented characters. Maybe I’ll see if I can find out more about the actual history between now and next time.

I think I’m about one third through the story. I will do my best to finish it before the next blog so I can wrap up my impressions of this interesting war tale.

Until then, happy reading!


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Announcing the 3rd Edition of this inspiring collection of historical fiction about 19 real-life girls who made a difference in their hometowns. Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction awarded by Children’s Literary Classics, among other awards.

What would you do if you heard a train crash through the trestle during a violent thunderstorm? How would you suggest to a presidential candidate that he change his appearance in order to be elected? If your family was under attack and surrounded, what would you do to save them? Could you refuse to help someone hoping to better themselves or would you help them?

These are just a few of the situations these girls found themselves in and rose to the occasion, saving the day in more ways than one. Through their bravery, their daring, and their sense of adventure, each used their skills, talents, and insights to meet the need before them.

If you’re a fan of the American Girl series or merely enjoy reading about heroic girls, you’ll love reading about these historic figures in American history.

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