The third book of the Comaneshteni Saga is now available.
As Romania enters the conflict between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire to gain its independence, all the men of the Comaneshteanu family go to war. Mihai Comaneshteanu is forced to choose between two competing love interests.
The author, Duiliu Zamfirescu, has been called “the Romanian Tolstoy.” The Comaneshteni Saga was Romanian literature’s first novel series, and one of the most beloved. It offers the readers a unique, authentic glimpse into the life of the peasants and aristocrats of 19th century Romania.
The men were advancing in silence, carefully. The light of the fire which cast a wide red tinge; the eaves of a nearby cabin; the hills and the valleys; the ghostly gleam of the lamp—all these made the soldiers feel like they had reached the otherworld. Some felt they were dreaming; others felt like shouting. All gripped their rifles resolutely.
A hundred paces away from the cabin, the dog that had barked rushed furiously at them. A gunshot rang through the valleys, and the dog, pierced by a bullet, leaped up and fell dead. Instantly, another shot rang out from the Turkish side.
Without order or plan, the soldiers charged the cabin. In front of it there were two wooden stalls: they were both pulverized, and the sentinel was slain, trampled underfoot. At once, the roof was set on fire. The reed quickly burst into flames, crackling.
At the sight of the flames, a tremendous roar broke out from sixty chests on the bank of the ancient river. It seemed a terrible need to shout had gripped all those men, who had been forced to keep quiet for so long.
The cabin’s door still did not open. A sergeant struck it with the gunstock, and the door became unhinged. He was slammed to the ground on the spot, and at the same time three men, like three tigers, dashed from the cabin, shooting aimlessly and running. Two were killed as they ran, while another, caught alive, was lifted up and taken to the burning roof, in order to be thrown into the fire.
Everything had happened extraordinarily fast.
The major put his hand on the chest of one of the soldiers who wanted to throw the Turk into the fire: “Get back!” He realized it was the man with the dizziness on the other bank.
“Get back!” the major shouted again. “To the boats! Lieutenant Comaneshteanu! Form for march, single file!”
The Turk was tied up tightly and lifted up.
“Not a word!” the major repeated. “Lieutenant Milescu! Lead the advance. Comaneshteanu, are all the men accounted for?”
“I believe so, Major.”
The soldiers lined up, and the column followed the lamp. Order and discipline reigned again; the mad fury of the charge against the Turkish sentinel had passed.
Just when they entered the boats again and headed back, Milescu seemed to come to his senses. While the commotion lasted, it was as if he had dreamed or died. He could not remember anything, what he had done, or what he had thought. Disparate images came to him, as if from a distant past: the fire, reflected in the Danube’s waters, or the crushed skull of the Turk in the stall. That’s how war is?”