Eclipse of the crescent moon; a tale of the siege of Eger

[Egri csillagok]


 Eclipse of the Crescent Moon has been the favourite reading of Hungarian teenagers since its rst appearance in 1901 with its exciting rendition of one of the most picturesque and dramatic periods of Hungarian history. In fact it contains all the material of a good Victorian-era adventure story for boys.

This is historical romance based on real historical events: the siege of the Castle of Eger (North-East Hungary) by the Turks in 1552. This was one of the most colourful and heroic phases of the protracted war between the Hungarians and the expanding Ottoman Turkish empire in the 16th century. The elements of the original story really do ask for their tale to be told — the position of the castle was highly strategic as it opened up access to the north east of the country, and both the Hungarians and the Turks were aware of that. The Hungarians, though few in number, bravely defended their castle from the Muslim invader.

The events of the siege, already picturesque, were turned into a particularly vivid and convincing historical romance by the deft hand of the author. The siege — described with reasonable historical accuracy — although the main event of the story, does not stand alone, but is embedded into the biography of Gergő Bornemisza, the main, originally historical, hero, whose life (and love) story Gárdonyi describes in detail from early childhood. Bornemisza becomes entangled with the warring factions of Christians intent on ruling over the Great Plain of Hungary, as well as with the occupying Turkish power, and through this the reader receives a really lively representation of Hungarian life in the rst half of the 16th century. ZV


At one point the broad highroad was crossed by a narrow lane. Gergely caught sight of a rider galloping fast along this lane. If they both continued at the same speed, they must meet at the crossroads. Gergely fiwas a janissary in a tall turban approaching him.

He gave the reigns a tug and stopped. So did the other rider. ‘The devil!’ he muttered. ‘that Turk will capture me!’

And his breath failed in terror. 120