The Boy Who Wanted Wings
James Conroyd Martin
Publication Date: September 1, 2016
Hardcover ISBN: 97809978994516
Paperback ISBN: 9780997894509
Genre: Historical Fiction
Aleksy, a dark-complexioned Tatar raised by a Polish peasant family, holds in his heart the wish is to become a Polish hussar, a lancer who carries into battle a device attached to his back that holds dozens of eagle feathers. As a Tatar and as a peasant, this is an unlikely quest.
When he meets Krystyna, the daughter of the noble who owns the land that his parents work, he falls hopelessly in love. But even though she returns his love, race and class differences make this quest as impossible as that of becoming a hussar. Under the most harrowing and unlikely circumstances, one day Aleksy must choose between his dreams.
On the eve of September 11, 1683, a massive Muslim Ottoman horde was besieging the gates of the imperial city of Vienna and had been doing so since the previous July. Now, however, they were just hours from capturing this capital of the Holy Roman Empire. The Turks’ intent was to bring Islam to all of Europe, and this city was seen by East and West alike as the gateway. With the window of time closing for Vienna, the walls were about to be breached on September 12 when the vastly outnumbered Christian coalition, led by Polish King Jan III Sobieski and his famous winged hussars, descended Kahlenberg Mountain to engage the Turks in an attempt to lift the siege. As crucial and consequential as the 1066 Battle of Hastings, the ensuing battle changed the course of European history.
(Was it the first 9/11? Some people believe that the date for the September 11th attack in 2001 was chosen to symbolically resume the effort that began in 1683.)
“A poor archer in medieval Poland takes aim at the love of his life in this epic novel from Martin. The anxious Aleksy Gazdecki, a young farmhand, embodies the ethnic and political tensions of Europe during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. The believability of this novel, which is sprinkled with period-specific details, is never in question.
Martin sets the stage so tidily that the plight of Aleksy and Krystyna, who desire to move beyond the social classes that keep them apart, transcends the historical moment. Sprawling but never slow, the plot moves naturally from battle to intimacy and back again. A gripping, transporting story of self-determination set against fate.” ~Kirkus Reviews
“Amidst class and religious warfare, this alternately romantic and brutal love story is also a reminder that the struggle between Christianity and Islam is a great deal older than 2001. Culminating in the re-creation of the Siege of Vienna in 1683, where monstrous killing was perpetrated in the name of God and power, this is a meticulously researched and convincingly written tale of love’s triumph that will surprise historical fiction readers with its little known historical backdrop. In an ethnically diverse Poland that is now long gone, the main characters struggle with loyalties to family, race, and country as they come to understand that no fear or evil is unchangeable.” ~Leonard Kniffel, Past Editor in Chief of American Libraries
Director, Polish American Librarians Association
About The Poland Trilogy
Based on the diary of a Polish countess who lived through the rise and fall of the Third of May Constitution years, 1791-94, Push Not the River paints a vivid picture of a tumultuous and unforgettable metamorphosis of a nation—and of Anna, a proud and resilient woman.
Against a Crimson Sky continues Anna’s saga as Napoléon comes calling, implying independence would follow if only Polish lancers would accompany him on his fateful 1812 march into Russia.
Anna’s family fights valiantly to hold onto a tenuous happiness, their country, and their very lives. Set against the November Rising (1830-31), The Warsaw Conspiracy depicts partitioned Poland’s daring challenge to the Russian Empire. Brilliantly illustrating the psyche of a people determined to reclaim independence in the face of monumental odds, the story features Anna’s sons and their fates in love and war.
James Conroyd Martin is the award-winning author of The Poland Trilogy (Push Not the River, Against a Crimson Sky, & The Warsaw Conspiracy), a saga inspired by the diary of a countess in 1790s Poland. Hologram: A Haunting was inspired by a house he lived in in Hammond, Indiana. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon.
For more information please visit James Conroyd Martin’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.