Sunday 4 September 2011

Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz - Book Review

Title: Quo Vadis
Author: Henryk Sienkiewicz
Publisher: Hippocrene Books, Inc.
Publication Date: 2010 (1895)
Pages: 589
Format: Paperback
Genre: Literary Fiction / Historical Fiction
Source: Christmas Gift

Quo Vadis, the record-breaking international bestseller for which Henryk Sienkiewicz won the fifth Nobel Prize for Literature, is as compelling today as the moment it was written. An epic saga of love, courage, and devotion in the last days of the Roman Empire, it portrays the corruption and debauchery of Nero's rule alongside the agony and glory of early Christianity.

Written over a century ago and translated into over 40 languages, Quo Vadis has been the greatest best-selling novel in the history of literature. "Sienkiewicz wrote Quo Vadis for the entire world and the world took it to its heart," commented James Michener.

Now, in a sparkling new translation which restores the original glory and splendor of this masterpiece, W.S. Kuniczak, the most acclaimed translator of Sienkiewicz in this century, combines his special knowledge of Sienkiewicz's fiction with his own considerable talents as a American novelist. (Goodreads Synopsis)

Having already seen the film version in bits and pieces, I had a fair idea what to expect from this book in terms of the storyline and I must say that the film did stick fairly closely to the book most of the time.

A number of the reviews I've read on this piece have been written by people who have stated at the outset that they are Christian and related their review to that. I, myself, am not religious, but that did not stop me from appreciating this work which is set in the time of Nero when Christians in Rome were persecuted after the burning of the city.

The lead characters are mostly based on real figures from the time and come across really well, each fully rounded and distinct. I found the relationship between Ligia and Vicinius completely engaging, despite the way he acts in the early part of the book, and was keen for them to triumph over adversity.

As an historic novel, this book paints a dazzling picture of Rome in the time of Nero; it is full of wonderful descriptions and a certain vitality that adds to the sense of reality in the piece. This book will appeal to fans of historical fiction and anyone who likes a romance that must conquer seemingly insurmountable odds.

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