Arrested, and awaiting execution during the siege of Leningrad, Lev and Kolya are instead sent on an outrageous quest. A powerful colonel insists that they secure a dozen eggs for his daughter's wedding cake. The author's portrayal of the desolation of Leningrad is heartbreaking, the city as much a character in this darkly comic novel as his hapless protagonists. This gem of a book is thoroughly absorbing, an entertaining and yet surprisingly profound read. — Erik Barnum
Lev and Kolya have been thrown in prison, awaiting execution, when an official strikes a deal: fetch two dozen eggs for his daughter’s cake and they’re free to go. A fast paced, hilarious romp through WWII Russia. — Amelia Stymacks
Spring/Summer '09 Reading Group List
“During the siege of Leningrad in WWII, two young men are sent on an improbable errand. The horror of war is only heightened by the lightness with which Benioff handles their evolving friendship and the grim task that evolves from their mission. Great characters and authentic historical background make this a surprisingly winning novel.”
— Russ Lawrence, Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton, MT
Fall '09/Winter '10 Reading Group List
“I have just met two of the most likable and remarkable characters, Lev and Kolya, young Russian men trying to survive the Siege of Leningrad who are given a chance to save themselves from death if they can find a dozen eggs for the wedding cake of the daughter of a powerful and ruthless Russian colonel. Thus begins an odyssey that is at times disturbing, but the beauty of this novel is in the writing. It contains humor along with sadness, and these two men forge a friendship that is priceless.”
— Carol Katsoulis, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL
Indie Next List Highlights 2008
“Set against the war-torn backdrop of Leningrad, two teenage boys end up, through stranger and stranger twists of fate, traveling cross-country to find a dozen eggs in exchange for their very lives. In the process, they learn more about human nature, both in themselves and others, than can possibly be explained. Wickedly funny and incredibly sad, it's far too short to be this lovely -- and yet it is.”
— Russ Marshalek, Wordsmiths Books, Decatur, GA
From the critically acclaimed author of The 25th Hour and When the Nines Roll Over and co-creator of the HBO series Game of Thrones, a captivating novel about war, courage, survival — and a remarkable friendship that ripples across a lifetime.
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. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.
By turns insightful and funny, thrilling and terrifying, the New York Times bestseller City of Thieves is a gripping, cinematic World War II adventure and an intimate coming-of-age story with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.
About the Author
David Benioff was born and raised in New York City. He adapted his first novel, The 25th Hour, into the feature film directed by Spike Lee. With many other screenplays to his credit, he is also the writer of the films, "Brothers" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine". Stories from his critically acclaimed collection When the Nines Roll Over appeared in Best New American Voices and The Best Nonrequired American Reading. His latest novel is City of Thieves. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter where he is a co-creator and writer for the HBO hit series "Game of Thrones."
“The novel tells a refreshingly traditional tale, driven by an often ingenious plot . . . [Benioff] shifts tone with perfect control—no recent novel I have read travels so quickly and surely between registers, from humor to devastation.” —The New York Times Book Review
“This spellbinding story perfectly blends tragedy and comedy.” —USA Today
“Splendid . . . Benioff has produced a funny, sad, and thrilling novel.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Benioff (a co-creator of HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) peppers his swift-moving plot with pitch-dark humor and unexpected turns. It’s a rousing reading experience, to cackle aloud at one paragraph then gasp at the next. . . . I’m glad I waited until warm weather to start this winter’s tale. But really, any other time would have been just fine. There’s no bad season to read a book this good.” —Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times Book Review
“Benioff blends humor and horror expertly.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A deft storyteller, Benioff writes about starvation, cannibalism, and Nazi atrocities with poise and cinematic flair. If Thieves were a movie, it would start out like Schindler’s List and end up like Raiders of the Lost Ark.” —People
"City of Thieves is a coming-of-age story brilliantly amplified by its worn-torn backdrop . . . Benioff’s finest achievement in "City of Thieves" has been to banish all possible pretensions from his novel, which never wears its research on its sleeve, and to deliver a rough-and-tumble tale that clenches humor, savagery, and pathos squarely together on the same page." —TheWashington Post
“City of Thieves is flat-out great . . . Benioff’s screen writing chops are in full force here - the plot careens along with cinematic verve - but that’s expected. The surprise is Benioff’s understated wisdom and tenderness.” —Men’s Journal
“David Benioff, has written a gripping war novel. With lots of humour, suspense and tragedy he shows the desperate lives of the people who were caught between two opposing forces during the Second World War.” —The Guardian