Publication Date: February 2009
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A Christian citadel in the mountains of Albania is met by the envoys of the Ottoman Armytheir message, accept our terms of total submission and avoid the inevitable violence. As the bloody and psychologically crushing fight for control over the citadel unfolds, Kadare’s newest work opens a literary window onto the eternal clash between religions and empires as well as the exhilaration, despair, and immediacy of the battlefield.
The imperial Pashaan instrument of the vast bureaucracy of the Ottoman Empireis the commander-in-chief of a war council that debates and decides the strategies and methods meant to grind away at the Albanians’ hold on their citadel and indeed their very way of life. The Pasha’s cabinet embodies the political and strategic impulses that have characterized the mechanics of warfare throughout history: the engineer behind a technologically unprecedented weapon; the embattled leader of the restless foot soldiers and artillerymen; as well as the poet, war chronicler and astrologer who place it all in a larger context. All the while, the Pasha’s harem soothes his greatest fears and insecurities as the siege becomes increasingly oppressive and hopeless both for the besiegers and the besieged.