July 6, 2016 by kitmoss
REVIEW: Broken Blades Paperback
by Aleksandr Voinov and L. A. Witt
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 19, 2016)
They only had one night together—a stolen interlude at the 1936 Olympics. After Mark Driscoll challenged Armin Truchsess von Kardenberg to a good-natured fencing match, there was no resisting each other. Though from different worlds—an Iowa farm boy and a German aristocrat—they were immediately drawn together, and it was an encounter neither has ever forgotten. Now it’s 1944, and a plane crash in hostile territory throws them back together, but on opposite sides of a seemingly endless war. Facing each other as opponents is one thing. As enemies, another thing entirely. And to make matters worse, Mark is a POW, held in a cold, remote castle in Germany… in a camp run by Armin. They aren’t the young athletes they were back then. The war has taken wives, limbs, friends, leaving both men gray beyond their years, shell-shocked, and battered. The connection they had back then is still alive and well, though, and from the moment Mark arrives, they’re fencing again—advancing, retreating, testing defenses. Have they been given a second chance? Or have time and a brutal war broken both men beyond repair?
REVIEW by Christopher Hawthorne Moss
Two expert fencing masters, one American and one German, meet during the Munich Olympics in 1936, start to fall in love, and share a bed. The German, Armin, is experienced not only in his sport but with men, while Mark, the American, has never made love to a man before. Eight years later they meet again under the most unfortunate of circumstances, with Mark a POW and Armin the commandant of the camp.
Armin believes that treating the prisoners with kindness and respect will prevent unrest among them. He has come under criticism from the SS for his lax attitude. In the meantime you learn that Armin suffered great trauma while on the Russian front and is subject to seizures, for which he is cared for by one of his chief guards. It is clear to the reader that Armin is one of those German officers who does not admire Adolf Hitler and even dreads the “Heil Hitler” salute the SS requires. He is resigned as the allied forces approach the camp, which is in a castle, for the SS to swoop in and relieve him of his command.
Mark, in the meantime, turns out to have married before he became a soldier, but his lack of passion for a woman has caused her to demand a divorce. Seeing Armin again he recalls his passion with him and tries to regain it. He and Armin realize quickly the chances they are taking and stop their clandestine meetings.
I found the novel quite compelling, though it had some quirks that made it less appealing. One was the frequent repetition of Mark’s leaving a room and reaching for the doorknob, only to turn and say something provocative. This repetitious situation even gets a comment from the German commandant. I also found the heavy emphasis on the side of Armin too great, although the authors’ emphasis on his antagonism to the Nazis was well done.
Given that the book is by two well-liked authors, I found myself wondering who was responsible for what in this novel.