Written by Jasper Kent
Review by Neville Firman

Set in 1812, this book tells the story of Napoleon’s assault on Moscow. Russian city after Russian city has fallen to the French, and it is only a matter of time before Moscow goes the same way. Captain Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov and a small group of fellow soldiers have been given the commission by General Barclay to work out a way to defeat the French. Dmity Fetyukovich said he ‘knew some people who can help. People who understand that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Or to kill Frenchmen.’

These people turn out to be twelve strangers calling themselves the Oprichniki, each using the name of one of the apostles who can work behind enemy lines with devastating results – but who are they?

In his book, Jasper Kent weaves a tale of historical fact with a much darker, horrific story bordering on the supernatural. The bitter cold of the winter of 1812 and the privations and hardships of the people are well portrayed, and the characters are well drawn.

I cannot really say that I enjoyed this book but, having started it, it became compulsive reading and, in spite of myself, I had to read to the end.