Books by James Conroyd Martin
The Boy Who Wanted Wings
“A gripping, transporting story of self-determination set against fate.” ~Kirkus Reviews
Aleksy, a dark-complexioned Tatar raised by a Polish peasant family, holds in his heart the wish is to become a Polish hussar, a lancer who carries into battle a device attached to his back that holds dozens of eagle feathers. As a Tatar and as a peasant, this is an unlikely quest. When he meets Krystyna, the daughter of the noble who owns the land that his parents work, he falls hopelessly in love. But even though she returns his love, race and class differences make this quest as impossible as that of becoming a hussar. Under the most harrowing and unlikely circumstances, one day Aleksy must choose between his dreams.
On the eve of September 11, 1683, a massive Muslim Ottoman horde was besieging the gates of the imperial city of Vienna and had been doing so since the previous July. Now, however, they were just hours from capturing this capital of the Holy Roman Empire. The Turks’ intent was to bring Islam to all of Europe, and this city was seen by East and West alike as the gateway. With the window of time closing for Vienna, the walls were about to be breached on September 12 when the vastly outnumbered Christian coalition, led by Polish King Jan III Sobieski and his famous winged hussars, descended Kahlenberg Mountain to engage the Turks in an attempt to lift the siege. As crucial and consequential as the 1066 Battle of Hastings, the ensuing battle changed the course of European history
(Was it the first 9/11? Some people believe that the date for the September 11th attack in 2001 was chosen to symbolically resume the effort that began in 1683.)
~Available in Paperback, Hardcover, and as an e-book~
Reviews for The Boy Who Wanted Wings
“A poor archer in medieval Poland takes aim at the love of his life in this epic novel from Martin. The anxious Aleksy Gazdecki, a young farmhand, embodies the ethnic and political tensions of Europe during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. Born to a Tatar family, he was taken in by Poles and raised a Christian. . . The believability of this novel, which is sprinkled with period-specific details, is never in question. Martin sets the stage so tidily that the plight of Aleksy and Krystyna, who desire to move beyond the social classes that keep them apart, transcends the historical moment. Underneath the story of the sweethearts’ labyrinthine struggle lingers the question of what it means to fight for one’s country but against one’s relatives—a situation in which Aleksy, as a Tatar, finds himself. Sprawling but never slow, the plot moves naturally from battle to intimacy and back again.”
“Amidst class and religious warfare, this alternately romantic and brutal love story is also a reminder that the struggle between Christianity and Islam is a great deal older than 2001. Culminating in the re-creation of the Siege of Vienna in 1683, where monstrous killing was perpetrated in the name of God and power, this is a meticulously researched and convincingly written tale of love’s triumph that will surprise historical fiction readers with its little known historical backdrop. The main characters struggle with loyalties to family, race, and country as they come to understand that no fear or evil is unchangeable.”
~Leonard Kniffel, Past Editor in Chief of American Libraries
Director, Polish American Librarians Association
Hologram: A Haunting
“This is not an ordinary haunt story. There are nice bits of original thinking along the way, especially in the relevance of the title, and the dénouement left me with mixed feelings, identifying as much with the haunts as with the protagonist. I saw the terminal fillip coming, and it gratified me.”
~~Science fiction and fantasy writer Piers Anthony, author of the Xanth Series
Hologram opens when Chicagoan Margaret Rockwell falls in love with a wonderful old Greek Revival home in Hammond, Indiana, and convinces hesitant husband Kurt that fate meant it for them. So begins a journey that will take them down a circuitous path fraught with the unknown—and danger.
Why do the Rockwells, expecting their first child, seem at once welcomed and repelled? What does it mean when Margaret starts to dream of the family that built the house in 1910? For her, the house comes alive with its own sounds, sights, thoughts, and intentions. How could the death of a child ninety years before impact their lives? And why?
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Push Not the River
Based on the diary of a Polish countess who lived through the rise and fall of the Third of May Constitution years, 1791-94, Push Not the River paints a vivid picture of a tumultuous and unforgettable metamorphosis of a nation—and of Anna, a proud and resilient woman. Against a Crimson Sky continues Anna’s saga as Napoléon comes calling, implying independence would follow if only Polish lancers would accompany him on his fateful 1812 march into Russia. Anna’s family fights valiantly to hold onto a tenuous happiness, their country, and their very lives. Set against the November Rising (1830-31), The Warsaw Conspiracy depicts partitioned Poland’s daring challenge to the Russian Empire. Brilliantly illustrating the psyche of a people determined to reclaim independence in the face of monumental odds, the story features Anna’s sons and their fates in love and war.
Against a Crimson Sky
A magnificent epic, Against a Crimson Sky is an unforgettable tale of love, valor, and the enduring strength of the human spirit, set against the backdrop of war-torn Poland at the cusp of the nineteenth century.
The year is 1794, and the beautiful and resilient Countess Anna Maria Berezowska has narrowly escaped death amidst the chaos caused by the violent dissolution of Poland.
Anna is soon reunited with her longtime love, Lord Jan Stelnicki, and the two lovers marry even as their beloved Poland is ripped apart. As the couple struggles to raise a family in the face of an uncertain future, Anna’s capricious cousin, Zofia, returns with a surprise of her own. Although Zofia’s past schemes still resonate, Anna’s doubts turn to fear as Jan’s patriotism draws him to the battlefield.
Offering new hope for a conquered Poland, Napoleon Bonaparte arrives in all of his pomp and glory. With the aid of new Polish legions—Anna’s friends and family among them—Napoleon battles his way across Europe in an effort that culminates in the doomed 1812 winter march into Russia.
Against this backdrop, Anna and Jan valiantly fight to hold on to a tenuous happiness, their country, and their very lives.
The Warsaw Conspiracy
Engaging and opulent, THE WARSAW CONSPIRACY unfolds as a family saga set against the November Rising (1830-1831), partitioned Poland’s daring challenge to the Russian Empire. Brilliantly iIlustrating the psyche of a people determined to reclaim independence in the face of monumental odds, the story portrays two brothers and their fates in love and war. Michał is a seasoned veteran soldier, cautious of the evolving conspiracy; Józef, his much younger brother and impassioned cadet, finds himself caught up in the vortex of a daring plot to abduct the Grand Duke of Russia. With Siberia or emigration to France looming as heart-rending contingencies, matriarchs Anna and Zofia stay steadfast in their resolve to steer the clan through ever-muddying waters.