01 December, 2017


Title: The Captive
Author: Skomantas
Series: Tales from the Baltic #1
Genres: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Tverme
Release: 1997
Source: Paperback
Pages: 152

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An English translation of the original Lithuanian Teutonų Belaisvis

The setting for this series of narratives is the Northern Crusades, a fascinating and particularly brutal period within the generally bloody history of the Crusades. Unlike the well documented and frequently fictionalized crusades in the Mediterranean region, little attention has been paid to the crusades in the Baltic region. They were initiated and strongly supported by the Popes of that period and drew fighting men from all of Europe. The original intent of the crusades was to Christianize the Baltic peoples who at the beginning of the XII-th century were still adamantly pagan. Over time, however, they degenerated into straightforward genocidal campaigns to acquire lands and serfs. Several orders of knightly monks participated in the prolonged war, of these the most prominent was the Teutonic Order of Holy Mary of Jerusalem. The members of this order were drawn from the noble or knightly class and had to be of German birth. They succeeded in completely exterminating the Prussian people, and expropriated not only their land, but also their name. After over 200 years of bitter struggle only the Lithuanians and Samogitians remained unconquered and pagan. They accepted Christianity on their own terms at the beginning of the XV-the century.

EXPECTATIONS: I am a total history buff and early medieval times, this rural creation of nations is very interesting to me. Being a Lithuanian I was always very interesting in our rich and full history, however, due to occupations and war not a lot of source or material about the Pagan times in Lithuania is left. I'm not even talking about books guys. I literally did not know any books featuring pagan Baltic countries, their culture and stuff so when I found this series in my home town library I was beyond happy. I think I immediately told Hannah about this, and could not shut up about it. So going into this my expectations were sky high!

THE WORLD: The plot takes place in XIII century Samogitia (Žemaitija). So we are placed in this rural world of old language, cities and culture. We follow a family of the Samogitian leader (in old Lithuanian the leader is - Rikis) Žybatas. He is a kind man, he has a wife Medeina and two sons Daubaras and Uvis. The two boys go hunting as Uvis has still to prove his manhood by capturing an animal. During this hunt they are attacked and Uvis is taken prisoner and transported to what now is Latvia. So the plot basically follows Uvis and his journey of being a boy from the upper royal class to becoming a slave. 

The world in this book wasn't difficult to imagine. The characters were talking in old language, they were acting brutally, concurring, being sloppy, but like in any other book depicting such a time.

CHARACTERS: As I mentioned before the main character in this book is Uvis. When we meet him he is only ten and the book time span is about four years, so we get to follow him or four years. I felt sorry for him, because the way he misses his mothers warm hands, his father, how he wondered if his brother was alive was really well written. I truly felt sorry for this little boy who got ripped away from his family. As a child of course he made some silly mistakes, but as a character in general I really liked him. He slowly grew and learned from every possible thing that happened to him.

Honestly, when I come to think about it now, there wasn't any other character that pooped. They were all very one dimensional unfortunately. At one point Uvis became a servant in a family that are producing candles. I think I liked this part of the book best because we got to see some other cultural aspect of those times. I liked Beata, the daughter of the candle maker, who was being forced to marry a much much older healthy man, when all she wanted was to join a convent. But honestly, in most the villains were the villains and the passing character were just passing characters so Uvis could learn something, realize and become stronger.


GOOD: I liked one thing in particular. I dislike how in historical books people of different cultures and countries can speak to each other without any problem. Which is so not true. I mean the only common language in the world at that time was Latin, and peasants or Pagan Baltic people 100% did not speak Latin. So this book clearly shows how difficult it was for Uvis to understand what people of different countries were saying. He couldn't understand what his kidnappers were saying to him, I just loved this little detail!

BAD: I don't know honestly. It wasn't an amazing book but it wasn't a bad one too. I think I was just expecting too much of it. I would have liked so plots to be more discussed or more diverse characters to appear. For example we got very little of Uvis family, after he was taken.

OVERALL: If you like short historical books, and ancient world interests you then read it, it's a quick read. I personally will definitely be continuing with other book from the series.

What do you think about THE CAPTIVE?



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