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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Sons of the Soil by Lucas Dines is a sweeping historical fiction novel taking place on the cusp of two of the world's most defining moments, the onset of WWI and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Macedonia in the earliest years of the twentieth century sets the stage for a multiple points of view story about a man, Jon Ahmeti, who will do anything to save his family. At the behest of MacGregor, a British spy, there is little that isn't required of him as he becomes witness to (and a victim of) the atrocities of the Balkan conflict. “We Macedonians are frozen in time, confined to a playground in which Fate continually acts out all of its most sadistic fantasies.”
Dines has done an exceptional job in bringing to life a piece of history that so few seem to know about. Sons of the Soil is epic in both sound and substance, pushing beyond Jon Ahmeti's first-person perspective and cracking open every bloody angle through the eyes of opposing characters. Each allows the reader into the heart and mind of a transgressor, which all are, including Ahmeti in his own forcefully misguided way. I loved Eleni, a strong yet violently damaged Greek rebel, but found Gotse Delchev, a Slavic freedom fighter and leader of the IO, to be the most intriguing. It takes an even-handed, skilled writer to deliver such an ambitious saga, but Dines has done it with a responsible storyline that manages the delicate act of balancing a cataclysmic time in history with a riveting fictional drama. A beautiful novel.