He was always busy and always felt in a state of mild and cheerful intoxication. He felt as though he were the center of some important and general movement; that something was constantly expected of him, that if he did not do it he would grieve and disappoint many people, but if he did this and that, all would be well; and he did what was demanded of him, but still that happy result always remained in the future.I feel ya, Pierre. Or Pyotr, or whatever your name is. I have not yet managed to discern how much of the odd French/English/Russian naming stew in my copy is Tolstoy, and how much is Edition.
To those of you who are not fictional characters and are therefore actually reading this, one week is not enough time to get through a book of this magnitude. Not as I hope to get anything else done, anyhow. I might've blasted through a couple of those Wheel of Time monsters in a matter of days, and they might've had similar quantities of words and war scenes and secondary characters with complicated names, but the exploits of Rand al'Thor did not require nearly so much careful attention.
I also don't think I'm quite dauntless enough to write a blasé review of a book like this. Hence, informal updates like this one.
It's still too early in the book to say much, of course. Tolstoy has a painful knack for pointing out all the narcissistic little ponderings that go through the human brain. He possesses an even more painful knack for making my favorite characters do abominably stupid things. I'd like to complain that he keeps leaving out all the How They Got This Way bits that, for instance, might have connected the humbled and shaken post-battle Nicholas Rostov of one scene with the hotheaded jerk who resurfaced, transmogrified, two chapters later. It seems unreasonable, however, to complain that this book should've been longer.*
It should be added that I'm all in favor of length when an author can pack it with the kind of beautiful moments that rise unexpectedly out of dark corners in this story. Also, that Tolstoy keeps making me love my least favorite characters in spite of myself, which almost makes up for his hardheartedness toward the ones I liked in the first place.
More next week...
* Am trying very hard to restrain a sudden flippancy that would have me suggest that Tolstoy could've made this a fourteen-book saga with magic and madness and polygamy and plenty of time for developing dozens of POV characters, like Jordan did, and I still would've been willing to read it. But all I've succeeded in doing is keeping most of that flippancy to a footnote.