The Librarian

When Books go to War

By Mikhail Elizarov
Translated by Andrew Bromfield (2015)
Ukranian, 2007
Philosophy, Satire, Political, Magical Realism 

Main Attractions

1. Allegory for Books’ Power  
2. Abundance of Connected Names
3. Epic Level of World Building
4. Complete with Rules
5. Dark Humour
6. Grisly, Symbolic Battles
7. Chessboard Level Plotting
8. Reigning Libraries & Reading Rooms
9.  Battles, Alliances & Magic
10. Weird, Logical Ending

Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Mystery Meat
I wanted to put it down quite a few times, each time for different reasons.  The beginning is extremely dense for characters, set up, philosophy and alliances.  It’s the best part of the whole book.  The premise and potential can spark all kinds of conversations for book clubs, political circles and Russian Lit freaks.  I didn’t understand all of the first 50 pages, but I’m intrigued enough to buy it and give it a re-read.

The other times I almost put it down were in the middle.  There’s a lot of alliances or battles being set up.  Because I didn’t get all of the information from the beginning, I didn’t fully understand why the battles were taking place or who the various characters were connected to.

The ending was hard to guess until the last 50 pages, then I could see where it was going.  So the ending is pretty solid.  It still leaves me with questions, again it must stem from the beginning.  Overall, it’s a great book.  The scenes read like a graphic novel, it’s very unique for a novel.  


Why Visit Here

The premise is enticing, books have power to deeply move us.  What would happen if groups formed who devote themselves to only one book?  And what if bigger, stronger, libraries formed who are aggressively collecting all books and have control over them?  

It’s a great read for fans of books and especially those curious about Russian - Ukrainian Literature.  Readers with a background in politics and philosophy may understand the book at a deeper level.  It’s a great book to own and re-read because of it’s denseness and mysterious messages.  It must be one of the most unique books I’ve read so far in 2017.   

Off the Beaten Path

Soviet Union Anthem, it’s a powerful anthem filled with nationalistic pride.  It captures the Book of Power from The Librarian and maybe the nostalgic feeling from The Book of Memory.  I’m eager to return to this book for a re-read, there’s a lot I didn’t fully understand.

Travel Advisory

Graphic violent battles.  The first one I found satirical and even a bit funny in it’s conclusion.  The later battles increase in their violence.  There’s nothing truly cringe-worthy in the descriptions.  Instead, it feels more like a graphic novel or something you could see on Walking Dead.  So I’d rate it as PG-13.  They are fairly standard for war-time plots.  No sexual assaults or anything grotesque, I’d always state if they go over the top like that.

Packing List

✓ Notebook, Highlighters & Time to Re-read
✓ CSI Crime Map with String for Interconnections
✓ Soviet Russia Documentary
✓ Alternatively: Bunny Slippers and a Trip Down a Rabbit Hole!

Recommended Resources
Alternate Books
The Master & The Margarita By Mikhail Bulgakov (1966) - Also a Stalinist Regime backdrop, magical realism and multilayered plot.  Also a Ukrainian author (But is disputed to be a Russian!)
We By Yevgeny Zamyatin (1924) - A SciFi Dystopian genre with a united/totalitarian state instead of the separated Reading Groups and Libraries.  Author’s Russian.
✓ Petersburg By Andrei Bely (1913) - A confusing book set in Petersburg, 1905 shows Russian culture in all it’s complexity.