Cossacks In Paris by Jeffrey Perren

Image“How far will one man go for love and freedom?
Rebellious Breutier Armande, a rising young civil engineer in Paris, is drafted into the Grande Armeé on the eve of Napoleon’s 1812 Russian campaign.
On a scouting mission in St. Petersburg he meets Kaarina, a Finnish mathematician and daughter of the counselor to Tsar Alexander I. The pair soon fall in love — but Kaarina is betrothed to Agripin, a vicious Cossack and a favorite of the Tsar. When she refuses him, Agripin kidnaps her, aided by Kaarina’s envious twin sister, Kaisa.
During Europe’s brief, uneasy truce Breutier deserts Napoleon’s army and the Tsar’s employ to reclaim Kaarina. Dodging the vengeance of the world’s most powerful rulers sends him on a perilous quest to hunt down the era’s most ruthless Cossack.
Interweaving the characters’ personal dramas with the epochal events of the following two years forms the core of the story. Historically accurate, the novel climaxes at the moment when, for the first time in 400 years, foreign armies invaded France, leaving behind Cossacks in Paris.”

Review By Michael Moeller – 22 Jul 2013 


These days, Hollywood and modern novels deflate the audience with an uninspiring miasma of small people, personal demons, and futile actions. Art — good art — is more than depression and depravity. Art offers the opportunity to wrench one from the humdrum of daily life and to elevate one’s spirit with heroes transforming the course of history, often facing down long odds.

Historical dramas remain one of the few genres that capture the world-altering nature of big events and the opportunity for heroism.

However, one of the drawbacks of many classic historical dramas, like Tolstoy’s War and Peace, is the lack of purposeful action driving the characters and plot. Tolstoy is stylistically brilliant in many respects, but the drama flatlines as the lead characters drift aimlessly through the trials and tribulations of the Russian aristocracy. Tolstoy’s characters are seemingly resigned to a fate outside the control of their individual decisions.

“Cossacks in Paris” covers the same historical period as War and Peace — from Napoleon’s march to Moscow to his subsequent retreat to Paris and ultimate demise. In contrast with underlying flaws of War and Peace, Jeffrey Perren’s novel integrates purposeful decisions and actions that breathes life into the drama and bonds the reader to the characters.

The reader is first introduced to Breutier Armande, the protagonist, as a man intent on reshaping the future with his engineering perspicacity. Unfortunately for Breutier, his ambitions are thwarted by Napoleon’s grandiose and ill-fated designs to expand his power by conquering Russia.


REVIEW #2 the latest from Amazon

by Frank Schulwolf

ImageI must say, I approached this novel with some misgivings.

Jeff Perren’s story is set in Napoleonic France, Germany and Russia, between 1812 and 1814. The high water mark of the Emporer’s career. I have never been a fan of Napoleon. In fact, I never understood the French fascination with and the continued glorification of this thug. There is much I do not understand about the French. I never understood the Social Contract, the Maginot Line, the Paris Commune, the Dreyfus affair or the Treaty of Versailles. I never understood why the French would honor such a man in Les Invalides. A place where ostinsably, they bury heroes.

What saves it for me, is that Perren’s hero, Breutier Armande, Frenchman and engineer is also no fan of Napoleon. In an age of rampant romanticism, Armand remains the product of the Enlightenment, a principled, man who holds nothing above reason.

Perren doesn’t beat you over the head with his philosophy. Rather it folds neatly into the storyline. Much of Armande’s character is revealed implicitly by virtue of his actions. There is however, one very explicit and telling encounter with the Emporer:

Breutier started to go, but paused when the Emporer tugged on his rein and asked an unprecidented question. “You disapprove of me, engineer. I’m curious to know the reason.”

Breutier said, his voice openly sad, “I don’t believe I could make you understand.”


“I want to be free. Free to live and work as I choose. You are a serious impediment to that.”

Napoleon released the rein, waving his hand theatrically. “It’s not for my crown I am fighting, but to prove that Frenchmen were not born to be ruled by Cossacks!”

Breutier shook his head, his belief confirmed. “No man was born to be ruled by anyone, Monsieur Bonaparte.”

Perren writes in a rather economical style, which means the story moves along at a rapid clip. This is not to say Cossacks is devoid of color. Though elaborate settings are not his stlye, the book manages to evoke a good sense of the era.

Warning: If you read in bed, you might be up all night.”

ImageJeffrey Perren is an American novelist. He  wrote his  first short story at age 12 and went on to win the Bank of America Fine Arts award at age 17. Since then he has published  at  award-winning  sites and  magazines  from  the U.S.  to New  Zealand.   “Cossacks  In  Paris” was his first published novel. He released in August, 2013 a mystery novel “Death Is Overrated.”

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