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The third and final book of Henryk Sienkiewicz’s Trilogy takes a closer and more intimate look at one of the series’ protagonists: Pan Michael Volodyovski.
The Polish Commonwealth has been through intense periods of war, and the peace that follows leaves one of its greatest heroes, Pan Michael, finally free to marry his beloved Panna Anusia. But in a twist of fate, she falls ill and dies, leaving Michael despairing of life—to the point of him joining a monastery. His friends, shocked at the loss of the great knight which has now left the Commonwealth unprotected, hatch a plan to bring him back to his true calling.
As with many of the characters in the Trilogy, Michael is fictional but based heavily on historical record: his character’s exploits and circumstances owe a lot to the real Polish knight Jerzy Wołodyjowski, who was also in Jan Sobieski’s cavalry.
Pan Michael was, like the other books in the Trilogy, initially serialized in Sienkiewicz’s newspaper Słowo, before being collected into a novel five years later in 1893. The book, and the Trilogy as a whole, was very well received, and allowed Sienkiewicz to resign his editorial post to focus on his novels.
The novel was the first of the Trilogy to be filmed (as 1969’s Colonel Wolodyjowski), and it was also later converted into a successful television series in Poland. This edition is based on the 1893 translation by Jeremiah Curtin.
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