Review: City of Thieves by David Benioff

Book Reviews

Twelve eggs to save a life. The story of adventure, survival and brutalities of Stalingrad siege from David Benioff, the producer of Game of Thrones. 

During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. 

The City of Thieves is one of the most cinematic books I have ever read, an action-packed, touching and vivid coming-of-age adventure. Lev and Kolya are an odd pair of misfits, caught up in the brutal reality of the starving city. An awkward Jewish teenager, son of a poet who disappeared in the Stalinist camps, Lev lands himself in jail when he is caught with a German knife after a dead paratrooper lands from the sky. His cellmate Kolya is a handsome Cossack deserter. Both are ordered to look for the dozen eggs for NKVD’s Colonel’s daughter, or face execution.

Lev and Kolya’s journey leads them from the Leningrad’s black market to an encounter with cannibals, from the search for a rumored chicken coop on the city’s rooftops to a trek behind the enemy lines, where they meet a group of Russian girls kept as sex slaves, a gang of partisans and a brutal Nazi commander.

The City of Thieves is a story of survival, bold, funny and probably quite unrealistic if you look into the the historical context, but it is definitely a supremely entertaining read.

Overall note: 3,5


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