I’m not sure yet how I feel about War and Peace; it’s been nearly 150 pages and there’s no coherent plot in sight. On the other hand, Tolstoy has very good descriptions of his characters (which he then, alack, expects the reader to remember until the fellow shows up again a hundred pages later), and beautiful passages like this:
“One step beyond that line [between the armies], reminiscent of the line separating the living from the dead, and it’s unknown, suffering, and death. And what is there? who is there? there, beyond this field, and the tree, and the roof lit by the sun? No one knows, and you would like to know; and you’re afraid to cross that line, and would like to cross it; and you know that sooner or later you will have to cross it and find out what is there on the other side of the line, as you will inevitably find out what is on the other side of death. And you’re strong, healthy, cheerful, and excited, and surrounded by people just as strong and excitedly animated.” So, if he does not think it, every man feels who finds himself within sight of an enemy, and this feeling gives particular brilliance and joyful sharpness of impression to everything that happens in those moments.
Tolstoy; War and Peace; Trans. Pevear & Volokhonsky. p 143