Hearts of Stone

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  • Author:
    Simon Scarrow
    This book has recently been the subject of a competition here on Arrse and I'm sure that the winners will enjoy their good fortune, I for one thoroughly enjoyed reading this book from cover to cover.

    For those of you who are not familiar with the author, Simon Scarrow has been writing books since 2005, his genre is historical fiction which includes The Roman Series of books as well as The Wellington and Napoleon Quarter and more.

    Prior to writing Scarrow was a teacher of History and his attention to detail and knowledge of his subject comes over in all his books, none more so than this his latest novel which is a change for Scarrow as his books have been set either in Roman times or in the days of The Knight Templar and and during the Napoleonic period of history, having read a lot of his books I was curious as to how this book set mainly in Greece on the Island of Lefkas during the World War Two would compare to his normal writings.

    Now this book is very readable, and so this review will be kept short as I do not wish to give too much away regarding the story and spoil it. It starts with a small team of archaeologists from Germany who are working on a site in Lefkas in the 1930's. The team is lead by Professor Muller and consists of his assistant Heinrich Steiner and the professors son Peter Muller. Friendships are formed with the locals as they are there for a few years until they are suddenly called away in 1938 due to the political unrest in Europe.

    It is during the early stages of the book that Scarrow sets the seeds of how the book is going to pan out, Steiner is very much embroiled in the idealism of the fascists and makes no secret of his desire and love of his Germany, Professor Muller on the other hand is much more interested in the work they are undertaking than politics, Peter Muller is much more interested in a young girl Eleni, Eleni is a local girl and the daughter of the Islands Chief of Police, during the early pages Andreas is also introduced who is a local boy and the three of them become close friends, Steiner is friendly, to a point! The day before the team is due to leave for Germany the four of them vow to meet again when the politicians have come to their senses and normality is resumed.

    And so the scene is set for a tale of lost friendship, romance, heart break and the violence of war. This book has everything, it is fast moving, moving from Norwich and London in 2013, to the war torn Island. Scarrow explains the working of the Greek Resistance called the Andartes, and how they took the fight firstly to the Italians and then the Germans.

    It is 384 pages long and not one word is wasted as Scarrow is on top form yet again. but what I really liked about the story was the fluidity of the read itself, the way he transported you to a quiet little terraced house in Norwich, you thought you were a fly on the wall listening in to the story as you read it. Then you found yourself in a middle of a fire fight as the resistance fought for freedom.

    The authors notes at the end of the book gives the reader a brief history of Greece and how it has transformed through the years. He also gives a couple of factuall books that the reader may find interesting to read regarding the Greek resistance, these are The Cretan Runner by George Psychoundakis about a messenger in the Andertes in Crete, and III By Moonlight by William Stanley Moss which goes into the British SOE in Crete and the kidnapping of General Kreipe.

    This was a splendid read which I thoroughly enjoyed and I am confident that if you like a good war story with a bit more to it than a a few bangs then you too will enjoy it, thus the five mushroom heads. Splendid!!
Grim_Squeaker85 likes this.

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  1. Aul_Wan
    Finished reading "Hearts of Stone" on the Kindle last night and I was a bit underwhelmed by it. I'm a fan of Scarrow's Roman series and have read them all but this book isn't in the same league.

    It's a great story but lacked pace. The characterisation was one-dimensional, which was disappointing, as it's one of Scarrow's best traits as a writer also the dialogue was wooden and lengthy at times. There were one or two editing issues that may be just to do with the Kindle edition where the names of the female protagonists seem to be inter-changeable and suddenly it's the aul granny having coffee and holding hands with the fit, young German academic - never saw that coming!

    Not up to the writer's usual form but still a good read for the back garden in the sun.
    1. Gout Man
      The old granny didn't, it was the grand daughter who held hands during that quiet moment.
      I obviously haven't read the Kindle edition but there was no editing issues in the hardback copy that I noticed.
      Gout Man, Jul 5, 2015