City of Thieves Chapters 17-18 Summary & Analysis

David Benioff

City of Thieves

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City of Thieves Chapters 17-18 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 17 Summary

Lev, Kolya and the partisans set off into the night for the long walk to Novoye Koshkino, intending to arrive before sunrise and take Abendroth by surprise. Though the partisans know nothing about the mission for the colonel, Lev and Kolya also hope they will find eggs at the headquarters. Korsakov instructs them to walk in single file, nine paces apart, and as they trudge through the snow Lev is so exhausted he drifts in and out of consciousness while walking. Kolya shows himself a true friend by keeping a close eye on Lev and walking alongside him, though they receive a sharp scolding from Vika for disobeying Korsakov’s orders.

As Kolya once again acclaims and quotes from The Courtyard Hound, Lev correctly guesses that there is no Ushakovo: Kolya himself is the true author, and the novel is yet to be completed or published. Lev realizes that it was a harmless lie, designed to protect Kolya’s pride. Lev remembers his father’s literary parties and the humiliation suffered by new authors when their work did not go down well: “… the reaction of disdainful silence, nobody willing to meet the poet’s eye …” (Chapter 17, p.250).

The partisans suddenly come to a halt and gather together. In the distance is the horrifying smell of villages being burned, retaliation for the killing of the six German officers. Lev notices that Korsakov and the other partisans display no signs of regret that their actions “triggered a slaughter of innocents” (Chapter 17, p.253). He accepts with sadness that this is the nature of war.

Chapter 18 Summary

Forced to abandon the plan to go to Novoye Koshkino, Lev and Kolya follow the partisans to their safe house near Lake Ladoga, arriving just before dawn. As they lie down on the floor to sleep, Kolya confesses to Lev the real reason he was arrested for desertion: consumed by sexual frustration, he had left his unit for a few hours to find a girl in the city. Missing his lift back, he was picked up by the NKVD and taken to the Crosses, where he met…

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