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Статский советник

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Since the publication of The Winter Queen, a New York Times Notable Book and the first mystery featuring Erast Fandorin, Boris Akunin’s historical mystery series has become a worldwide sensation, selling millions of copies and propelling Akunin into the ranks of Russia’s most widely read contemporary novelists. The first new Fandorin novel available to an American audience Since the publication of The Winter Queen, a New York Times Notable Book and the first mystery featuring Erast Fandorin, Boris Akunin’s historical mystery series has become a worldwide sensation, selling millions of copies and propelling Akunin into the ranks of Russia’s most widely read contemporary novelists. The first new Fandorin novel available to an American audience in a decade, The State Counsellor tests the handsome diplomat-detective’s guile and integrity like no mystery before. Moscow, 1891. The new Governor General of Siberia has been secreted away on a train from St. Petersburg to the former Russian capital. A blizzard rages outside as a mustachioed official climbs aboard just outside the city; with his trademark stutter, he introduces himself as State Counsellor Erast Fandorin. He then thrusts a dagger inscribed with the initials CG into the general’s heart, and tearing off his mustache, escapes out the carriage window. The head of the Department of Security soon shows up at the real Fandorin’s door and arrests him for murder. The only way to save his reputation is to find CG—and the mole within the government who is feeding the dangerous group information. Can Fandorin survive corruption among his fellow officials, the fearlessness of an unknown enemy, and the advances of a sultry young nihilist with his morals intact? The State Counsellor is a colorful entertainer from a master of the sly historical romp.


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Since the publication of The Winter Queen, a New York Times Notable Book and the first mystery featuring Erast Fandorin, Boris Akunin’s historical mystery series has become a worldwide sensation, selling millions of copies and propelling Akunin into the ranks of Russia’s most widely read contemporary novelists. The first new Fandorin novel available to an American audience Since the publication of The Winter Queen, a New York Times Notable Book and the first mystery featuring Erast Fandorin, Boris Akunin’s historical mystery series has become a worldwide sensation, selling millions of copies and propelling Akunin into the ranks of Russia’s most widely read contemporary novelists. The first new Fandorin novel available to an American audience in a decade, The State Counsellor tests the handsome diplomat-detective’s guile and integrity like no mystery before. Moscow, 1891. The new Governor General of Siberia has been secreted away on a train from St. Petersburg to the former Russian capital. A blizzard rages outside as a mustachioed official climbs aboard just outside the city; with his trademark stutter, he introduces himself as State Counsellor Erast Fandorin. He then thrusts a dagger inscribed with the initials CG into the general’s heart, and tearing off his mustache, escapes out the carriage window. The head of the Department of Security soon shows up at the real Fandorin’s door and arrests him for murder. The only way to save his reputation is to find CG—and the mole within the government who is feeding the dangerous group information. Can Fandorin survive corruption among his fellow officials, the fearlessness of an unknown enemy, and the advances of a sultry young nihilist with his morals intact? The State Counsellor is a colorful entertainer from a master of the sly historical romp.

30 review for Статский советник

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sofia

    Action packed smoothness complete with complicated interesting characters, yes Green and Erast Petrovich, I am talking about you. But not only about you but all the others as well. In this story which could have easily been superficially presented as a good vs bad story, we get instead the shades of grey which all sides of a story have. And so we get character driven writing. With people who even in their 'baddest' moments make us connect to their humanness. Akunin's plot is enjoyably labyrinthin Action packed smoothness complete with complicated interesting characters, yes Green and Erast Petrovich, I am talking about you. But not only about you but all the others as well. In this story which could have easily been superficially presented as a good vs bad story, we get instead the shades of grey which all sides of a story have. And so we get character driven writing. With people who even in their 'baddest' moments make us connect to their humanness. Akunin's plot is enjoyably labyrinthine which pressed a lot of my like buttons. We get a continuous cause and effect and hidden human agendas abound. Intelligently written and delicious to read. My first Fandorin has turned out to be a great read which has created a need in me to see both the earlier and the later Fandorin. I want to know about Erast. This being my first of this series I cannot compare to it's predecessors so my rating is going to be free, based only upon my reading enjoyment. Fits slot 9 of my reading challenge -an espionage thriller. an ARC gently given by author/publisher via Netgalley

  2. 5 out of 5

    Assaph Mehr

    In this political-thriller type mystery, Fandorin is trying to clear his name from an attempted-murder charge by catching the real culprit. One of the better mysteries in the series, it is also notable for Oleg Menshikov movie performance as Fandorin. One cannot imagine the character to look any other way. What to Expect Each novel is written as a different type of mystery. Akunin set out to rectify the low-brow reputation of the mystery genre in post-USSR Russia by writing worthy literature and e In this political-thriller type mystery, Fandorin is trying to clear his name from an attempted-murder charge by catching the real culprit. One of the better mysteries in the series, it is also notable for Oleg Menshikov movie performance as Fandorin. One cannot imagine the character to look any other way. What to Expect Each novel is written as a different type of mystery. Akunin set out to rectify the low-brow reputation of the mystery genre in post-USSR Russia by writing worthy literature and exploring the wide gamut of sub-genres. Each novel is therefore excellently written as a different type of detective case. While there is continuity in the protagonist's life between the novels, each is very different in themes and tones. I've written a condensed review of the whole series on my website. What I liked I like the writing style. The prose is intelligent and flowing, the mysteries are complex, and the cast is varied (though those that make repeat appearances tend to die). Fandorin himself is a great character, even though as a main character he still remains an enigma - a tantalising mystery in itself that keeps readers engaged and clamouring to know more. I love the historical background. Akunin has done his research into Russian culture, mannerisms, environment, personalities, etc. of the late 19th century / early 20th century. Most of the stories take place around Moscow, and Fandorin gets to meet and associate with the people of the times (from the low-life criminals of Khitrovka, to the grand-dukes of the imperial family). In a few cases, Akunin also has Fandorin active around notable events of the era, at times filling in details where history has left us stumped. Akunin is also a Japanophile, and has Fandorin spend a few years in Japan. While details are sketchy (and we want more! More!), it is clear that he has a great love and deep knowledge of that culture and times. What to be aware of Be aware that each of the novel is told in a different style. Besides the obvious (something new and different in each volume), one keyword  is 'told'. They are almost all in 3rd person perspective, and quite often not from the point of view of Erast Fandorin (which is both tantalising and frustrating at times). It's this distance that keeps Fandorin an enigma, and keeps us coming back to learn more. Fandorin has a Sherlockian intellect and impressive physical prowess. He is not without his faults (most notably hubris), but as a hero he is certainly a cut above the rest. He also tends to get involved with a different femme fatale in each book. This suits the detective genre perfectly, regardless of modern sensibilities. While the books are not really related and have few continuing characters, I'd still strongly recommend to read them in order. Lastly, and this has nothing to do with Fandorin, since these are professional translations (amazingly done by Andrew Bromfield) via a traditional publisher, the price of ebooks and hardcovers is almost the same. The ebooks are also missing some of the illustrations and other typographical effects that are present in the print. I'd definitely recommend reading the print edition, where possible. Summary Should you read these novels? Yes! By all means, if you love historical mysteries these novels are a must read. It is an intelligent, engaging, and just different enough series to be in a class of its own. It's not surprising that in his home country of Russia, Akunin out-sells JK Rowling. In fact, since it's been a few years since I've read them, I think I'll go back and re-read my favourites (Winter Queen, State Counsellor, and The Coronation). -- Assaph Mehr, author of Murder In Absentia: A story of Togas, Daggers, and Magic - for lovers of Ancient Rome, Murder Mysteries, and Urban Fantasy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    LenaRibka

    A brilliant historical mystery set in Imperial Russia. If I had done it properly – started not from the book #6- I would have opened my review with “A great start for a very promising historical mystery series with one of the most interesting characters” But I read it unfortunately(or as very often) not in the right order. So I'll keep this opening for my next Fandorin's book. The good news—you can read this book as a stand-alone. Of course, I am going to read this series from the very beginning A brilliant historical mystery set in Imperial Russia. If I had done it properly – started not from the book #6- I would have opened my review with “A great start for a very promising historical mystery series with one of the most interesting characters” But I read it unfortunately(or as very often) not in the right order. So I'll keep this opening for my next Fandorin's book. The good news—you can read this book as a stand-alone. Of course, I am going to read this series from the very beginning. Though, even if I know that The State Counsellor: Further Adventures of Fandorin, the book#6, is not the last one, I’ll decide later if I’ll go on with the next, the N°7, installment. Because the ending HERE was a perfection pure. Besides, to tell the truth, I’m a bit afraid that the books after this one could ruin the feeling, or that I’ll get tired and bored with our State Counsellor Erast Fandorin. Boris Akunin gives a great historical feel of the era, but he choose to tell a story that is free from any ideological system. He created the Fandorin series following the real historical facts and events, without being political or fictional, remaining very accurate in his research but trying to give his idea of what HAPPENED in Russian two centuries ago, and why. It is an adventures, entertaining and very thrilling mixture out of a murder mystery, a sarcastic spy thriller, the most exciting action movie and a relationship drama in the most authentic historical setting. I am always surprised(positively), when I see other readers, without any connection to Russia or its history, who enjoy and understand Russian classic literature or Russian historical fiction. Yes...the enigmatic Russian soul, with its passion for suffering, pain and grief and the overall mood for melancholy..bla-bla-bla…Cliché but true, but I totally got the rating here. The plot is great, Fandorin is not only attractive and smart, but he also embodies the ideal of a nobleman of the nineteenth century: high morals, dedication and honesty, loyalty, courage and chivalry, intelligence and faithful to his own principles. Is his counterpart Green so much different from Fandorin? No, actually not, but he has other methods. Don’t ask me though what side I took for. I am still torn between…(you’ll understand when you read it). My tiny worry: There are many secondary characters that are fantastic, but they have maybe unusual names for someone without a Russian background, and I hope a lot that all readers will get along well with it. :) Highly recommended for all fans of historical fiction and historical mystery! **Copy provided by Mysterious Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    YES 5 Stars - You are reading correctly, is is NOT sunstroke..... Another Arch-nemesis for Erast Fandorin to deal with in a very Sherlock Holmes style of read set across Moscow C1860's or thereabouts. Revolutionaries, pseudo-intelligentsia(i), ideologist students of rich families, orshika (secret police) & double agents throughout for Erast to battle & form alliances with as the case(s) unfold. The villian (Muuuuuulhahahahahahahah) is as engaging as our hero & for me receives equal star billing. p YES 5 Stars - You are reading correctly, is is NOT sunstroke..... Another Arch-nemesis for Erast Fandorin to deal with in a very Sherlock Holmes style of read set across Moscow C1860's or thereabouts. Revolutionaries, pseudo-intelligentsia(i), ideologist students of rich families, orshika (secret police) & double agents throughout for Erast to battle & form alliances with as the case(s) unfold. The villian (Muuuuuulhahahahahahahah) is as engaging as our hero & for me receives equal star billing. plenny of near scrapes as usual with "The flight of the Hawk" being an alltime favourite from now on & mystery to keep yous entertained. A very good read for a historical fiction, mystery or crime reader & if you like all three like me, bonus! If you've not tried Boris Akunin before then yer missing out on summit I say! Go'on you know you want to??

  5. 4 out of 5

    Warrengent

    A masterpiece of the historical novel,grabs you attention from the opening page and never lets up,i absolutely would recommend this to anyone

  6. 5 out of 5

    Assaph Mehr

    In this political-thriller type mystery, Fandorin is trying to clear his name from an attempted-murder charge by catching the real culprit. One of the better mysteries in the series, it is also notable for Oleg Menshikov movie performance as Fandorin. One cannot imagine the character to look any other way. What to Expect Each novel is written as a different type of mystery. Akunin set out to rectify the low-brow reputation of the mystery genre in post-USSR Russia by writing worthy literature and e In this political-thriller type mystery, Fandorin is trying to clear his name from an attempted-murder charge by catching the real culprit. One of the better mysteries in the series, it is also notable for Oleg Menshikov movie performance as Fandorin. One cannot imagine the character to look any other way. What to Expect Each novel is written as a different type of mystery. Akunin set out to rectify the low-brow reputation of the mystery genre in post-USSR Russia by writing worthy literature and exploring the wide gamut of sub-genres. Each novel is therefore excellently written as a different type of detective case. While there is continuity in the protagonist's life between the novels, each is very different in themes and tones. I've written a condensed review of the whole series on my website. What I liked I like the writing style. The prose is intelligent and flowing, the mysteries are complex, and the cast is varied (though those that make repeat appearances tend to die). Fandorin himself is a great character, even though as a main character he still remains an enigma - a tantalising mystery in itself that keeps readers engaged and clamouring to know more. I love the historical background. Akunin has done his research into Russian culture, mannerisms, environment, personalities, etc. of the late 19th century / early 20th century. Most of the stories take place around Moscow, and Fandorin gets to meet and associate with the people of the times (from the low-life criminals of Khitrovka, to the grand-dukes of the imperial family). In a few cases, Akunin also has Fandorin active around notable events of the era, at times filling in details where history has left us stumped. Akunin is also a Japanophile, and has Fandorin spend a few years in Japan. While details are sketchy (and we want more! More!), it is clear that he has a great love and deep knowledge of that culture and times. What to be aware of Be aware that each of the novel is told in a different style. Besides the obvious (something new and different in each volume), one keyword  is 'told'. They are almost all in 3rd person perspective, and quite often not from the point of view of Erast Fandorin (which is both tantalising and frustrating at times). It's this distance that keeps Fandorin an enigma, and keeps us coming back to learn more. Fandorin has a Sherlockian intellect and impressive physical prowess. He is not without his faults (most notably hubris), but as a hero he is certainly a cut above the rest. He also tends to get involved with a different femme fatale in each book. This suits the detective genre perfectly, regardless of modern sensibilities. While the books are not really related and have few continuing characters, I'd still strongly recommend to read them in order. Lastly, and this has nothing to do with Fandorin, since these are professional translations (amazingly done by Andrew Bromfield) via a traditional publisher, the price of ebooks and hardcovers is almost the same. The ebooks are also missing some of the illustrations and other typographical effects that are present in the print. I'd definitely recommend reading the print edition, where possible. Summary Should you read these novels? Yes! By all means, if you love historical mysteries these novels are a must read. It is an intelligent, engaging, and just different enough series to be in a class of its own. It's not surprising that in his home country of Russia, Akunin out-sells JK Rowling. In fact, since it's been a few years since I've read them, I think I'll go back and re-read my favourites (Winter Queen, State Counsellor, and The Coronation). -- Assaph Mehr, author of Murder In Absentia: A story of Togas, Daggers, and Magic - for lovers of Ancient Rome, Murder Mysteries, and Urban Fantasy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    I happily turned to Erast Fandorin after too long an absence. I discovered him when I lived in Kent and loved him. An unusual detective in Czarist (Tsarist?) Russia, he has a stutter, a Japanese manservant, and is forever unlucky in love. In this entry, he has to deal not just with the always dangerous politics of the government service in Moscow, but also a band of dangerous revolutionaries (terrorists). Erast is very like Sherlock in his deductions, but a much more sympathetic character in that I happily turned to Erast Fandorin after too long an absence. I discovered him when I lived in Kent and loved him. An unusual detective in Czarist (Tsarist?) Russia, he has a stutter, a Japanese manservant, and is forever unlucky in love. In this entry, he has to deal not just with the always dangerous politics of the government service in Moscow, but also a band of dangerous revolutionaries (terrorists). Erast is very like Sherlock in his deductions, but a much more sympathetic character in that he is not perfect. Unfortunately, these mysteries are not available on Kindle, so I have a hard time finding them. Oh, well, that's why they have interlibrary loans, right?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kris McCracken

    The sixth in the series, I think that this is (thus far) his best: reactionary autocrats, revolutionary terrorists, murky plots, sinister schemes and a heavy political edge I really enjoyed this bleak tale! I particularly enjoyed the vivid painting of the key revolutionary 'Green'. Fashioned by a cruel world, Akunin has done a great job in constructing a beautiful example of the sympathetic villain. This book has it all, assassinations, bomb-making, bank heists, love trysts, and scores of bodies The sixth in the series, I think that this is (thus far) his best: reactionary autocrats, revolutionary terrorists, murky plots, sinister schemes and a heavy political edge I really enjoyed this bleak tale! I particularly enjoyed the vivid painting of the key revolutionary 'Green'. Fashioned by a cruel world, Akunin has done a great job in constructing a beautiful example of the sympathetic villain. This book has it all, assassinations, bomb-making, bank heists, love trysts, and scores of bodies piling up as the stakes are raised every page. I loved it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Branko Jovanovski

    I would even give it 2 and half stars - this is the worst one in the Fandorin series so far.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anna Bergmark

    Not liking "Special Assignments" much I expected the worst and to begin with I thought I was right. Green the terrorist didn't hold any interest for me and a large cast equipped with first names and patronymics as well as last names (and all Russian at that) made me mightily confused. But about a hundred pages in it all changed. A new "sheriff" comes in from Saint Petersburg and all of a sudden Fandorin is jolted into action for real. Being out staged by a man even more charismatic and possibly s Not liking "Special Assignments" much I expected the worst and to begin with I thought I was right. Green the terrorist didn't hold any interest for me and a large cast equipped with first names and patronymics as well as last names (and all Russian at that) made me mightily confused. But about a hundred pages in it all changed. A new "sheriff" comes in from Saint Petersburg and all of a sudden Fandorin is jolted into action for real. Being out staged by a man even more charismatic and possibly smarter than himself doesn't suit our hero one little bit! So... High time to pull his sleeves up. Metaphorically speaking of course. He would never willingly crease his fancy clothing. And the story turns tighter and more exciting. The pace heightens. The rivalry between the two crime fighting geniuses is fun to follow and their shaky cooperation kind of sweet and Erast's new more-than-a-handful girlfriend sure is a feisty one. And what do you know?! For the rest of the book I was copiously entertained! By the twists and the turns. By the action. By the humour and the characters. 4,5 big smiling stars to a Boris Akunin at his best. You really don't want to miss this!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Arina AS

    Since Russian is my mother tongue I have the advantage to read the original without the wait for a translation and and the danger of losing some book charm in a different language. So far the best fandorin book for me, not because of the criminal plot but of the fascinating and rare medley of the Japanese and tsarist Russian intrigues in the late 19 th century. For those fond of Japanese culture it is captivating to read about early Yokohama (back then a small expat village and a small port), samu Since Russian is my mother tongue I have the advantage to read the original without the wait for a translation and and the danger of losing some book charm in a different language. So far the best fandorin book for me, not because of the criminal plot but of the fascinating and rare medley of the Japanese and tsarist Russian intrigues in the late 19 th century. For those fond of Japanese culture it is captivating to read about early Yokohama (back then a small expat village and a small port), samurais, ninjas, Geishas and transition and opening of Japan to the Western world Again akunin is not the best criminal writer compared to Christie and all the pros but I love the evolution of his Novels, The improvement of plots and fascinating historical settings

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sem

    I wish they'd translate more of Akunin's work. I'm spinning these out for as long as I can - and given my desire to devour them in one marathon session it's hard - but I'm going to run out before long and there won't be anything to take their place. I can't think of another writer who can spend half a book in the mind of the adversary (I use that word loosely given the devilish complexities of the Tsarist bureaucracy and the uncertainties of who the real adversary is) and leave you feeling that I wish they'd translate more of Akunin's work. I'm spinning these out for as long as I can - and given my desire to devour them in one marathon session it's hard - but I'm going to run out before long and there won't be anything to take their place. I can't think of another writer who can spend half a book in the mind of the adversary (I use that word loosely given the devilish complexities of the Tsarist bureaucracy and the uncertainties of who the real adversary is) and leave you feeling that you don't care if you ever get back to the protagonist no matter how delightful he is (and he is).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shayla McBride

    All the books in this series have been excellent. set in the years before the Russian Revolution, it's easy to see the battle between haves and have-nots. Erast Fandorin, a really great (although kind of misty in appearance as Akunin never describes him) protagonist, and the secondary characters are each very unique. Action is also unique (loved Fandorin's naked leap into the night) and surprising. Overall, a terrific series. Best read in order, no way can you read just one. All the books in this series have been excellent. set in the years before the Russian Revolution, it's easy to see the battle between haves and have-nots. Erast Fandorin, a really great (although kind of misty in appearance as Akunin never describes him) protagonist, and the secondary characters are each very unique. Action is also unique (loved Fandorin's naked leap into the night) and surprising. Overall, a terrific series. Best read in order, no way can you read just one.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Yael

    I think it might be my favorite! So, so great. I read it for the longest time (read many books in between), but I’m actually quite glad - it gave me some time to think about it and cherish everything in it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Boris Feldman

    The most recently translated in this series about an unconventional Russian detective. This is the author who first turned me on to police novels. He remains my favorite.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kateryna Krotova

    I had watched a movie a long time ago (great actors and really suggesting to watch it). Book is slightly different. But both are good. Very interesting storyline about time before the revolution.. Just after the death of emperor Alexander II.. I was surprised, that Fandorin couldn’t guess who was guilty in all calamities (as for me it was pretty obvious).. But still was very interesting!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    Fandorin returns in an exciting new adventure! The State Counsellor sees him chasing after a band of communist terrorists following the assassination of a leading figure in the Tsarist hierarchy - for which the terrorists impersonate Fandorin himself. A rollicking good story, with a good number of plot twists, Imperial Court intrigues, and femme fatales, this is Akunin back to form in an engrossing new title. Reason for four stars, and not five? There are a few story devices that annoyed me as a r Fandorin returns in an exciting new adventure! The State Counsellor sees him chasing after a band of communist terrorists following the assassination of a leading figure in the Tsarist hierarchy - for which the terrorists impersonate Fandorin himself. A rollicking good story, with a good number of plot twists, Imperial Court intrigues, and femme fatales, this is Akunin back to form in an engrossing new title. Reason for four stars, and not five? There are a few story devices that annoyed me as a reader a bit - an action takes place, and then the story rewinds to play the same thing through another person's viewpoint. While this is used to advance the story somewhat, and adds to some of the plot twists, I feel that perhaps some of these could have been executed in a slightly more expedient way. Secondly, there were a few anachronisms with the translation, such as the use of Flying Squad and turnpike, which bugged me. Both are cultural impositions from the UK and US respectively, and are out of place in the book. While the title of the Okhranka (Tsarist spy agency) is left untranslated, why were these translated so clumsily? For turnpike at least, perhaps tollbooth would be a better word - and one that is more universal in English? Those are two small points really, but overall a thoroughly enjoyable read. Well worth a go.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    The usually twisty world of Erast Fandorin becomes impenetrable an mystery (adventure? intrigue? ) that I think assumes more than an average non-Russian's understanding of Russian history, especially the role of insurgents in the 1890s. I, for one, got super lost and gave up trying to place who was where and why about 2/3 of the way through. Not a recommend here, even though it's been a long while between English language Fandorin novels. I received an ecopy from the publishers and NetGalley in e The usually twisty world of Erast Fandorin becomes impenetrable an mystery (adventure? intrigue? ) that I think assumes more than an average non-Russian's understanding of Russian history, especially the role of insurgents in the 1890s. I, for one, got super lost and gave up trying to place who was where and why about 2/3 of the way through. Not a recommend here, even though it's been a long while between English language Fandorin novels. I received an ecopy from the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    While at the start and middle of this book I was going to give it three stars but as I worked my way through the rest of the novel I was more and more impressed. Beautifully crafted with, as one other reviewer has said, showing many shades of grey, the political intrigue twisting and turning up until the very end. I can't wait to get my hands on the next in the series. While at the start and middle of this book I was going to give it three stars but as I worked my way through the rest of the novel I was more and more impressed. Beautifully crafted with, as one other reviewer has said, showing many shades of grey, the political intrigue twisting and turning up until the very end. I can't wait to get my hands on the next in the series.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    The novel is much better than the Russian TV movie.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Adi Gonen

    The best one in the series!!!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sienna

    Five stars for this book, five stars for the series. Marvelously Russian, exquisitely written, gorgeously translated. I'm always a little intimidated at the beginning of one of Akunin's dense, complex stories but once I get into the Russian spirit I can never put it down. It's well worth slowing down -- & I'm not even getting half of what is in there. The double names! Impossible names -- Tikhon Bogoyavlensky! I studied Russian briefly in college so it delights me to pronounce them -- out loud, Five stars for this book, five stars for the series. Marvelously Russian, exquisitely written, gorgeously translated. I'm always a little intimidated at the beginning of one of Akunin's dense, complex stories but once I get into the Russian spirit I can never put it down. It's well worth slowing down -- & I'm not even getting half of what is in there. The double names! Impossible names -- Tikhon Bogoyavlensky! I studied Russian briefly in college so it delights me to pronounce them -- out loud, it must be out loud -- imagining the true, Cyrillic spelling. Then, as in life, of course, characters are sometimes called by last names (Burlyaev, Smolyaninov), or nicknames (names made longer by adding -oshka, -ushka, even Green becomes Greenich)... To top it all off, the "villians" have code names, fantastic code names like Needle, Bullfinch, Julie... Somehow they keep themselves straight because the story is ... intuited, like a Gaudi staircase, or tango. It's ever so complex, serious, Russian! Class, honour, a well-ordered world, so foreign. The author & his translator are so brilliant that it's approachable (maybe not easy). Like Hilary Mantel, Dorothy Dunnett, Norman Rush, I feel kinda smart just getting enough of it to enjoy it so much. The characters are so rich that our main hero, Fandorin (Erast Petrovich, State Counselor) almost blends into the background, without losing his integrity one bit. The villain Green (whom we kinda love, & who sees people as colours: himself a steely grey, an ally has "that dense ochre colour that comes from great internal strength and unshakeable belief." p94) counts his heartbeats so constantly that "sometimes he would wake in the middle of the night with a four-figure number in his mind and realize that he hadn't stopped counting even in his sleep." (p35) made heavy use of my book darts... p38 If society was not to become overgrown with scum like a stagnant pond, it needed the periodical shaking-up known as revolution. p95 In America they call it lobbying. We don't have a parliament, so you use terrorists to put pressure on the government. p99 He knew the way he spoke wasn't right, but it was the only way the words came. The thoughts in his head were precise and clear, their meaning was absolutely obvious. But when they emerged in the form of phrases, the superfluous husk simply fell away of its own accord and only the essential idea was left. Probably sometimes rather more fell away than ought to. p104 There was still a risk, of course. But it was better to trust a traitor than to spurn a comrade. p128 She had broken his steely will and iron discipline with ease. She was life itself, and everyone knew that life was stronger than any rules or dogmas. Grass grew through asphalt, water wore holes in rocks, a woman could soften the hardest of hearts. Especially a woman like that.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Olga

    This was my first Fandorin book. Out of sequence, but since I choose to listen rather than read, and to download audiobooks from libraries free of charge, I take what I can. I am a native Russian speaker, and was concerned about getting this in English first, but what a trip! The author is very popular in Russia and in Europe, I was just a bit late to the party. Apparently, he had the idea to write mysteries in styles of various famous authors, and to make them close to intellectual literature rath This was my first Fandorin book. Out of sequence, but since I choose to listen rather than read, and to download audiobooks from libraries free of charge, I take what I can. I am a native Russian speaker, and was concerned about getting this in English first, but what a trip! The author is very popular in Russia and in Europe, I was just a bit late to the party. Apparently, he had the idea to write mysteries in styles of various famous authors, and to make them close to intellectual literature rather than "genre" trashy books. This idea is similar to contemporary American writers attempting to elevate "genre". Well, IMO, Akunin succeeded beyond expectations. Another point is that a lot of this book takes place in Moscow, where I was born, was another plus. Unfortunately, I left at the age of 20, and traveled mostly by subway, so I could not truly appreciate Akunin's amazing erudition and minute knowledge of Moscow, it's geography and history. I even googled many place names to confirm whether the reader was pronouncing them correctly (he was!), as well as actual locations. The translation and performance were superb! Who but a Russian could say "Sortirovochnaya station" :) The story is summarized in many places, so suffice is to say that the hero is a Sherlockian supersleuth, amazingly cunning, intelligent, competent etc etc. And a sensualist. Ladies fall all over him. A crack shot too. Fantastically agile and string. How not to be charmed? Story is fast, action packed Running, hiring sleigh cabs, fast rides in snowy Moscow, hand to hand combat, attending formal events for highest circles of nobility, clandestine assignations in a bath house, working along members of the Imperial family. All if this with the goal to discover and eliminate a super secret Revolutionary group. See, Russian literature is not all complex and dark. They can do action and humor too!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gabi Coatsworth

    I listened to the audiobook and wished sometimes that I was actually reading it, because there are a number of characters, and a corresponding change in points of view which sometimes made it harder to remember who was who. But our hero, Fandorin, is irresistible whether he’s jumping naked from a window in a Turkish bath or resolutely taking the high ground when office politics turn murky. Nice to know that it’s not just the communists who had double agents in Tsarist Moscow.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Raigo Loide

    In this novel Fandorin is facing the terrorists but in surprisingly passive way. The main character is actually one of the terrorists. The book is similar to "Death of Achilles" as it is critical on Russian government and the main culprit is nothing but a puppet in the hands of some career official. Well written and easy to read, but for me it lacks the novelty. In this novel Fandorin is facing the terrorists but in surprisingly passive way. The main character is actually one of the terrorists. The book is similar to "Death of Achilles" as it is critical on Russian government and the main culprit is nothing but a puppet in the hands of some career official. Well written and easy to read, but for me it lacks the novelty.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    3.5 Exciting plot of Fandorin vs. state terrorists, which I found rather hard to follow through the first half. It picked up speed, with many twists after that. I always learn a little more of Russian history through Akunin's mysteries, but some previous ones were more enjoyable to me. 3.5 Exciting plot of Fandorin vs. state terrorists, which I found rather hard to follow through the first half. It picked up speed, with many twists after that. I always learn a little more of Russian history through Akunin's mysteries, but some previous ones were more enjoyable to me.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Darrell Woods

    The State Counsellor - Number 6 - is Akunin's political terrorist novel. Fandorin seems at a loss for much of it as he is outmanoeuvred and even directly insulted in the first of a sequence of assassinations. Unlike some of the other novels, there is a rich cast of characters and suspects, some over the top and all the better for it. Central to the story is the fact that the terror leader is being provided with secret notes even he knows nothing about. Stir in several femme fatales and leave eno The State Counsellor - Number 6 - is Akunin's political terrorist novel. Fandorin seems at a loss for much of it as he is outmanoeuvred and even directly insulted in the first of a sequence of assassinations. Unlike some of the other novels, there is a rich cast of characters and suspects, some over the top and all the better for it. Central to the story is the fact that the terror leader is being provided with secret notes even he knows nothing about. Stir in several femme fatales and leave enough of a gap for some bedroom frolics and you have all the ingredients of another fun Fandorin tale. There are bombs, shoot outs, and enough of a body count that this feels like the choice for a Tarantino film version. The central whodunnit is more about who is the traitor - to whom and for what. Any gripes? Well there isn't much room for Fandorin's faithful man servant in this one, and because he himself is embedded in the plot, there is a little less detecting looking in from the outside. Not enough "That is 1...2...3" which has become his trademark - although it is used to poke some fun at our hero! The central bad guy is deliberately impenetrable and so maybe not as memorable as others? For those on the journey through the books in order, another cracker - where to next for the great detective?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bella

    When most people think of Russian literature, they don’t think of anything contemporary. Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Nabokov, Pasternak – these are the names that spring to mind, and yet none of these authors lived past the 1900’s. A great deal of this has to do with politics; political themes pervade Russian literature as much as it does Russian life. As political and social ideologies fall in and out of favor with Western sensibilities, so does literature influenced by these movements. Modern Russia When most people think of Russian literature, they don’t think of anything contemporary. Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Nabokov, Pasternak – these are the names that spring to mind, and yet none of these authors lived past the 1900’s. A great deal of this has to do with politics; political themes pervade Russian literature as much as it does Russian life. As political and social ideologies fall in and out of favor with Western sensibilities, so does literature influenced by these movements. Modern Russian writers are no less talented, just less fashionable. Considering the current state of affairs between Russia and America, it seems unlikely, then, that the U.S. release of Boris’ Akunin’s novel, The State Counsellor, will attain much publicity in the States – which is a shame, as the book is well worth the read. In The State Counsellor, fans of Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky will find themselves in familiar territory – revolutionary Russia in the 1800’s. The story is one of political intrigue told from two perspectives: the titular state counsellor, Erast Petrovich Fandorin, and the hardened, battle-worn revolutionary known by the alias ‘Green’. The assassination of a prominent political leader starts off a game of cat and mouse between government authorities, led by Fandorin, and Green’s Combat Group, a band of terrorists intent on overthrowing the tyrannical tsarist government. Treachery and shifting loyalties on both sides make you question who the good guys really are (or if there even are any), and keep you guessing the outcome until the final pages. For Western readers, the dense, complex political structures in The State Counsellor may be difficult to navigate. Also complicating matters is Russian tripartite naming conventions; the use of patronymics can make it challenging to differentiate between the large cast of characters within the story. At times, I found the portions of the story dealing with the revolutionary group more enjoyable simply because their single name aliases made it easier to understand the players involved. But the lead character, Fandorin, is an interesting character, and keeps you drawn in. While the British refer to Fandorin as a “Russian Sherlock Holmes”, for me he seemed more akin to Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot – a bit less priggish & morally high-handed, perhaps, but with the same precise, fastidious nature and attention to details others might overlook. It is no wonder that the novel, originally released in 2000 in Russia, has attained such popularity, and that Fandorin went on to be featured by Akunin in a series of books. Hopefully, it will not take another 17 years for the rest of the series to be released in the U.S. I look forward to reading more of Fandorin’s adventures.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    I bought this book in Porto, Portugal at the famous Livaria Lello bookshop. As a speaker of Russian, I was thoroughly delighted and impressed by the wonderful translation job. Kudos! Great romping story set on the cusp of the Russian Revolution, told from the POV of the detective, Fandorin, and the terrorist, Green. My only issue was that the hero's Japanese valet didn't get enough air time. All in all, a first-class effort. Recommend! I bought this book in Porto, Portugal at the famous Livaria Lello bookshop. As a speaker of Russian, I was thoroughly delighted and impressed by the wonderful translation job. Kudos! Great romping story set on the cusp of the Russian Revolution, told from the POV of the detective, Fandorin, and the terrorist, Green. My only issue was that the hero's Japanese valet didn't get enough air time. All in all, a first-class effort. Recommend!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brian Campbell

    writing is extraordinary - characters were easy to follow and the timing of some revelations about them was brilliantly placed to make the story more interesting. Plot also very well done. Story itself is depressing. The setting was primarily in Moscow Russia when rail travel was heavily used and there were no automobiles. It was near the end of the czarist reign. The story revolved around terrorists and state security agencies. Terrorists were ruthless and smugly inhumane. They suspected all of writing is extraordinary - characters were easy to follow and the timing of some revelations about them was brilliantly placed to make the story more interesting. Plot also very well done. Story itself is depressing. The setting was primarily in Moscow Russia when rail travel was heavily used and there were no automobiles. It was near the end of the czarist reign. The story revolved around terrorists and state security agencies. Terrorists were ruthless and smugly inhumane. They suspected all of their captured comrades to be traitors and often dealt violently with them. State security agents were also despicable - often betraying each other to superiors or to death. The latest state officer to betray Fandorin was exposed late in the book. Fandorin managed to emerge from all this darkness with some redeeming qualities. I might read another in this series because the writing is so good. If I find Akunin's other titles are similarly dark, I probably won't finish them.

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