A #1 international bestseller reminiscent of the works of Roberto Bolaño, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and Edward Rutherford—a page-turning historical epic, set in early eighteenth-century Spain, about a military mastermind whose betrayal ultimately leads to the conquest of Barcelona, from the globally popular Catalonian writer Albert Sánchez Piñol.
Why do the weak fight against the strong? At 98, Martí Zuviría ponders this question as he begins to tell the extraordinary tale of Catalonia and its annexation in 1714. No one knows the truth of the story better, for Martí was the very villain who betrayed the city he was commended to keep.
The story of Catalonia and Barcelona is also Martí’s story. A prestigious military engineer in the early 1700s, he fought on both sides of the long War of the Spanish Succession between the Two Crowns—France and Spain—and aided an Allied enemy in resisting the consolidation of those two powers. Politically ambitious yet morally weak, Martí carefully navigates a sea of Machiavellian intrigue, eventually rising to a position of power that he will use for his own mercenary ends.
A sweeping tale of heroism, treason, war, love, pride, and regret that culminates in the tragic fall of a legendary city, illustrated with battle diagrams, portraits of political figures, and priceless maps of the old city of Barcelona, Victus is a magnificent literary achievement that is sure to be hailed as an instant classic.
Spanish writer Pi ol's odd, hyper-reseached historical novel offers a play-by-play of Catalonia's 1714 annexation by Spain that hardly skips a battle or neglects to namecheck a general in its sprawling account of the War of Spanish Succession. Our guide is the ancient, Catalan-born strategist Marti Zuvi, who dictates (to his hapless nurse) the story of how, as a youth, he studies engineering the science of ramparts and sieges at the famous Castle Bazoches, in French Burgany, a favorite of the learned Marquis de Vauban. But it is on the field, at the decisive Battle of Almansa, that Zuvi gains his real education. There he meets James Fitz-James, the Duke of Berwick (or, as Zuvi calls him, "Jimmy"), the general who will one day take Barcelona. But before then, Zuvi will find acceptance among misfits within the besieged city gates, fight among both Bourbons and rebel mercenaries, and concoct an astonishing strategy that will take all his training in warfare to survive. It's hard to imagine another work of fiction could be as immersed in its period as this; the novel comes with a timeline, a long list of historically-based characters, and diagrams of the various fortresses and townships that punctuate the uncompromised battle scenes. In fact, Pi ol has written less of a novel than a rollicking guided history, meaning that his book will be beloved by history buffs and medievalists but anyone expecting deep pathos, lively plot twists or even particularly stylish prose is setting themselves up for dissapointment.