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Monday, November 9, 2009

"The Seige" by Ismail Kadare

Pasha Tursun is sent off to faraway Albania to subdue a rebellious population and make Albania part of the Ottoman Empire. One Citadel decide to hold out against Ottoman rule. They refuse to submit and they refuse to convert. Their mythical leader Skanderbeg holds them to their Christianity and binds them to the Catholic Church. The Ottoman Army is comprised of many different nationalities and they are all camped by the wall of the Citadel ready to take it over. Pasha Tursun has also fallen out of favor with the Sultan so it is imperative that he overtake the Citadel. He brought along with him his four wives, a usual no no for a military campaign.

The Albanian Defenders desperately hold on in the face of overwhelming odds. The first assault by the Ottoman army takes them for a bit of a surprise. THe Turks have brought a cannon which reeks havoc on the walls. but the attack fails. The Albanian forces hold them off. The cannon fails to bring down the walls. The Turks try at least four different assaults against the garrison all of which fail. They try sabotaging their water supply by finding it with a horse. They are successful in finding the water and the defender do encounter intense thirst. but that does not bring them down. Next the Turks try infiltrating the fortress with rats in order to bring disease bu the Albanians counter that with rat traps. They also try tunneling into the fortress but the fortress cave in on them. While the Turks may have destroyed the defender's water supply the defenders destroyed the Turks food supply which was being shipped by Christian Venetians. The defenders also stage a night raid against the Turks.

In the end it is safe to say the Turks hold out. THe book does delve into Military camp life, Ottoman intrigues as well as the the lusty side of Turks in battle. Many soldier are concerned with the women they will capture. Their are feuds between officers over power struggle and little young boys. An officers life in the Otoman army is one of a constant power struggle and always watching your back. To see who may try to kill you for their next advancement.

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