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The Diamond Chariot is book number ten in Akunin's Erast Fandorin series, falling timewise in two different parts. Although the wide spread of years between the two books in The Diamond Chariot may seem a bit odd at first, all will be made clear as the novel comes to an end. But it seems that not everyone appreciates his work -- an attack on a train puts Fandorin on the trail of a deadly group of revolutionaries who will stop at nothing, not even the deaths of innocent people, to sabotage any hopes of a Russian victory over Japan. Book one also deals with growing disenchantment with the reign of Nicholas II, in a Russia that is "seriously ill," an empire which "had become an anachronism, a dinosaur with a body that was huge and a head that was too small, a creature that had outlived its time on earth." The entire Fandorin series is fun to read, and The Diamond Chariot is no exception. The first part is good, more on par with the rest of the Fandorin series, but I was totally immersed in the second part, not wanting to let go of the book until I'd finished it, because of the difference in tone and because frankly, it was more like an old-time adventure/mystery story where I seriously couldn't imagine what was going to happen next. The Diamond Chariot may be (imho) Akunin's best work in the series -- it's fun, with a good mystery and a conclusion that ties both parts of the book together in a kind of sad yet satisfying way.
Finally, in the 10th book, we get to hear about Fandorin's years in Japan. What to Expect Each novel is written as a different type of mystery. Each novel is therefore excellently written as a different type of detective case. Fandorin himself is a great character, even though as a main character he still remains an enigma - a tantalising mystery in itself that keeps readers engaged and clamouring to know more. In a few cases, Akunin also has Fandorin active around notable events of the era, at times filling in details where history has left us stumped. Akunin is also a Japanophile, and has Fandorin spend a few years in Japan. What to be aware of Be aware that each of the novel is told in a different style. By all means, if you love historical mysteries these novels are a must read.
Overall, it was great to have Erast in Japan. Great to finally see how Masa meets Erast.
As is the case with most of the Fandorn series, Akunin builds small, fast moving and engaging stories, but plays them out against a much bigger backdrop where some, however limited, knowledge of late Imperial Russian history makes the tale much richer but it is not necessary. In these cases, and there are two tales here that become one (I hope thats not giving anything away), the stories are held together by personal relations as well as the bigger geo-political context in a way that adds a sense of pathos to Fandorins character and helps explain much about his personal relationships.
The story runs in two places and two time frames.
In 1998 he made his debut with novel Azazel (to English readers known as The Winter Queen), where he created Erast Pietrovich Fandorin. In September of 2000, Akunin was named Russian Writer of the Year and won the "Antibooker" prize in 2000 for his Erast Fandorin novel Coronation, or the last of the Romanovs.