The Constant Soldier
- 408 Pages
- November 7, 2023
- ISBN: 9781956763782
- Trim Size: 6in x 9in x 0in
Set near the concentration camps of Auschwitz, an accaimed historical thriller of the end of World War II that has been called “A masterpiece of empathetic imagination and storytelling flair” (BBC History Magazine, “Historical Novel of the Year”)
1944. Paul Brandt, a soldier in the German army, returns wounded and ashamed from the bloody chaos of the Eastern Front to find his village changed and in the dark shadow of an SS rest hut—a luxurious retreat for officers recuperating from their injuries and for those who manage the nearby concentration camps of Auschwitz. The hut is run with the help of a small group of female prisoners from the camps who, against all odds, have survived the war so far. When, by chance, Brandt glimpses one of these prisoners, he realizes he must find a way to access the hut. For inside is the woman to whom his fate has been tied since their arrest five years earlier, and now he must do all he can to protect her.
As the Russian offensive moves closer and partisans press from the surrounding woodlands, the days of this rest hut and its SS inhabitants are numbered. And while hope for Brandt and the female prisoners grows tantalizingly close, the danger is greater than ever. In a forest to the east, a young female Soviet tank driver awaits her orders to advance . . .
The Constant Soldier has been hailed as “a masterpiece” and “a modern classic” and praised on its UK publication as “An extraordinary novel, with the intensity and pace of a thriller and a wisdom and subtlety all of its own. I was gripped to the very last page” (Antonia Hodgson).
“Gripping . . . Ryan’s elegant, powerful prose does justice to his difficult subject matter. The Constant Soldier has the pace of a thriller with characters and themes that are nuanced and subtle.”—Times (Book of the Month)
“This is a terrific novel: a tough-minded, morally probing thriller that only gains in pace, depth and authority as it goes along.”—Daily Telegraph
“Subtle, suspenseful and superb.”—Daily Mail
“A beguiling blend, a spy novel-cum-historical thriller that offers a gripping but nuanced narrative set against the horrors of the absolute abuse of absolute power. It’s a bleak but rewarding novel about guilt, personal and shared, and taking responsibility for your actions, even if doing so offers no possibility of reward.”—Irish Times
“A masterpiece of empathetic imagination and storytelling flair . . . In this tense and subtle thriller, the central character returns from the eastern front to find himself living in the shadow of a luxurious SS retreat.”—BBC History Magazine (Historical Novel of the Year)
“His new novel, The Constant Soldier, is more straight historical novel than crime and benefits from a strikingly characterised protagonist. . . . It may be his most accomplished book yet.”—Financial Times
“A nuanced, complex and gripping tale of guilt and love that captures the chaos at the end of WWII.”—A. L. Kennedy
“Elegaic, haunting, passionate, William Ryan’s Constant Soldier is a subtle WW2 thriller of horror and love with an utterly gripping countdown to Gotterdamerung. One of my favourites of the year.”—Simon Sebag Montefiore
“I can’t praise this book highly enough. Everyone should read it, including those, like me, who are wary of reading anything involving the SS. Because it isn’t really about them. It’s about love and humanity that survive even in the direst circumstances.”—Historical Novel Society Review (editor’s choice)
“Ryan has produced a literary work, which, through complex yet realistic characters, makes sense of the unthinkable. His portrait of the ending of the war, when the retreating camp officers realise they will be judged by their enemies, is skilfully evoked. And the ending—showing a glimpse of hope, is beautifully judged.”—Irish Examiner
“A modern classic from a master storyteller . . . [A] brilliant, emotionally charged story which combines a poignant romance with an edge-of-the-seat thriller. But what impresses most is the author’s powerful writing, which blends taut action sequences with passages of soaring literary beauty.”—Lancashire Evening Post
“A book of great moral seriousness and a tense and grippingly atmospheric thriller, The Constant Soldier is a brilliant evocation of the price of redemption and the cost of guilt. An important book but one that reads with all the panache and skill of a thriller. Highly recommended.”—Stav Sherez, author of the best-selling Carrigan and Miller detective series
“A gripping story of the struggle for humanity in the last days of the war. Ryan makes you think, makes you feel, and makes you turn the page.”—Michael Ridpath, author of the Magnus Iceland Mystery series