#BookReview: Berezina: The Fire by Frédéric Richaud & Ivan Gil

Historical Graphic Novel

Bérézina #1

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In 1812, in order to keep his stranglehold on Europe, Napoleon had no choice but to declare war on the Russian emperor, Alexander. After three months of marching, his men, starved and exhausted, finally made it to Moscow… only to discover that the city had been deserted. Thus Napoleon and his army took up residence in the Russian capital without even the slightest resistance. But by nightfall, Moscow was on fire. Houses, churches and even the Kremlin were ablaze, and the entire French army risked being reduced to ashes. Caught in the trap, Napoleon was forced to leave the city and get back on the road to face his enemy.

The Fire is book one of the Berezina series which, as a whole, chronicles Napoleon’s failed invasion of Russia. It delves into the scorched earth tactics employed by the Russians during their retreat and there is a quick glimpse of the Battle of Borodino, but the bulk of the narrative takes place in the largely evacuated city of Moscow.

The destruction of the city it the heart of the book, but Richaud’s cast is also worth mentioning. As individuals, the characters are engaging and I liked how the author’s decision to showcase the experiences of both occupiers and refugees gave depth to the story.

Readers should approach these books with the understanding that the three installments are not written as standalones. The trilogy follows The Battle series and while I don’t feel it necessary to have read the earlier books, I admit I am curious to see how the two collectively link the larger story of Napoleon’s campaigns.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: September 17, 2018

“He’s robbed me of my victory! Do you hear me? Robbed!”