Nowadays, the historical theme is slipping away from the media focus and unfortunately readers are becoming less and less attracted by any book or novel of such type. However, in an era where the commercialism rules, Galina Zlatareva managed somehow to write a novel telling us events which were of great significance about my birth country Bulgaria, which happened around the middle of the XIX century.
“The medallion” is a two part historical novel which follows chronologically the organization, the preparation, the outbreak and the decline of the Bulgarian revolution. The author not only does reveal historical motives in her novel, but also shows a brilliant sense of drama, presenting to the readers the life cycle of a simple Bulgarian merchant Gavril Hlutev, who evolves mentally to rise above the others and to turn into their spiritual leader and personal ideal, giving himself the name Georgi Benkovski.
At the same time there is a contemporary comparison with today’s world of mafia and corruption where the American citizen George Benkovski, who incidentally was named after the great ancient Bulgarian predecessor, ends up fighting for his life and the right for real justice to be resurrected in modern Bulgaria.
The story takes place in various countries however it is mainly focused on how the abrupt diplomatic changes in Europe, thoroughly dictated by the great strategist Otto von Bismarck, had such a great impact on all Balkan countries fate, one of which was situated at the heart of the Ottoman Empire and yet it strived for its freedom like the others, but gained it a few years after everyone else.
Personally I find both parts of the novel really intriguing because of my great interest in history as a whole. Many readers were amazed by the style of the author basically because she managed to mix three completely different story plots which eventually appeared to be the life stories of Bulgarian “heroes”. Once, a person dives into the spectrum of all the heroic and brave personalities of the main characters in the novel and compare them to the cowardly qualities of the ex and contemporary Bulgarian “leaders”, they realise how melancholy a reality could be.