THE ENCHANTING ANN BÁTHORY
Novel (Libri), 2013, 356 pages
MORE THAN 10,000 COPIES SOLD IN HUNGARY
Born at the end of the sixteenth century, Ann Báthory was one of the last members of the glorious and infamous Báthory clan. Her grandfather was the brother of the Polish king. Hers was a family of rulers, Transylvanian princes, a family of fame and glory. Their fortune was legendary.
The novel opens in 1608 in Transylvania. The walled city of Klausenburg prepares for festivities never seen before: the wedding of the prince’s sister, the 14-year-old Ann Báthory. Ann is married off in a rush. Her brother, Gabriel Báthory, the newly elected young prince, needs allies.
Ann Báthory was brought up to respect and obey her family and her duties. But from a very early age she could not help going her own way. Orphaned and brought up by one of the greatest ladies of the kingdom, she knows her place and duties as a Báthory and as the sister of the Prince of Transylvania. But when her brother is assassinated, everything turns upside down. One minute she is the celebrated beauty of the court and in another the new prince calls her “that devil witch whore”. She is put on trial for witchcraft and immoral behavior, and even for murdering her own son – a little boy she hides away with the young nobleman Nicholas Esterházy and his extravagant, eccentric wife. Esterházy is the love of Ann Báthory’s life. Her feelings are reciprocated, but faith and the constantly changing circumstances, Ann’s pride and Esterházy’s ambitions, always come between them. Still, Esterházy saves Ann’s life many times and cares for her dearly, and Ann longs for him and never gives up the hope of one day living with him. Ann’s most trusted companion is Lin, a Chinese slave, who herself had an eventful life before coming to Transylvania with a Turkish warlord. She was sold at an early age by her family and has lived in Venice as a slave of a famous courtesan, and in Istanbul, where she was the assistant of a Jewish medicine man.
After her brother is murdered, Ann’s life turns into a nightmare. She is imprisoned and tortured. All her fortune is taken away and she is forced to flee Transylvania. She travels to Warsaw to live there with her half brother and begins plotting to get back the Transylvanian throne for the Báthorys with the help of the Polish king. She becomes the favorite companion of Crown Prince Wladyslaw and accompanies him when he travels throughout Europe for two years, visiting Bohemia, Venice and Brussels. Only after being away for several years does she return to Hungary, where she seeks refuge at Esterházy’s court who by this time is the palatine and the most powerful man in the Hungarian Kingdom.
The novel plays against the backdrop of 16th and 17th century Hungary, Transylvania and also the Istanbul, Venice, Warsaw and Brussels. The period is one of the most turbulent times in the history of eastern-central Europe, the beginning of the Thirty Year’s War. The Hungarian Kingdom is divided in three: the western part is under the rule of the Habsburg Emperor, the capital, the city of Buda, is occupied by the Turks, Transylvania is an independent Principality, but shares borders with the Ottoman empire and pays tax to the Turkish Sultan.
It is a world of constant war where intrigues, religious debates, betrayal, and carefully calculated relationships turn the wheel of fortune. It’s a world where fortresses are constantly under attack by the Habsburgs or by the Ottoman hordes, where brothers turn against brothers and the great halls and private chambers are full of whispers about poison, betrayal, and the forbidden love of the Báthory siblings.
Ann was a true Báthory, one of the most infamous characters of her time in a world of mystery, cruelty, passion and unpredictable fortune. But against all odds, she wanted to be free.
The novel is the first part of a trilogy, of which the second part will be published in November, 2014.
FROM THE PRESS
“It is not the kind of book you read bit by bit, page by page during cooking or between two bus stops. You have to sit down and slow down to adjust to it’s steady pace, to let yourself be drawn into the world of the Báthorys, full of intrigue and mischief.”
Kinga Csapody, Új Könyvpiac
“An exceptional endeavour to rehabilitate all these unduly forgotten women whose role was so influential and important in the history of Transsylvania.”
“At last, a successful experiment to recreate the language and the way of thinking of Transsylvania in the 17th century!”
Attila Zoltán Kovács – President of the Association of Literary Organisations of the Carpathian Basin
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Zsolna Ugron is a best selling Hungarian author. She holds a degree in law and political science and has worked as a print journalist, a political and foreign correspondent on national TV, and a communication consultant for multinational companies. Her first novel Úrilányok Erdélyben (A Transylvanian Love Story), published in December 2010, has sold more than 60,000 copies, topping the Hungarian bestseller lists for months. The author’s second book was published in 2011 to widespread critical acclaim. Erdélyi menyegző (The Enchanting Ann Báthory) is her third novel and the first volume of a trilogy. It has sold more than 10, 000 copies since it came out last November. More on the author