A Song of Stone: A Novel by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm not sure that I got the Balkan tie-in, but it's certainly about some European country under some military distress. The era is uncertain, but there are roving (marauding?) bands of militia in the country, and Abel and Morgan decide to leave their castle for a safer area. Unfortunately they are stopped not terribly far from the castle by one such militia group, and returned to the castle as host/captives.
Abel is certainly Lord of the Manor, and takes housing these ruffians as an affront. At first, Loot (the leader) agrees that there will be no damage done to the house, that they will treat the contents with respect. Within a day or so, a shell strike damages the castle, leading to the Old Retainer, Albert, having a heart attack - the first casualty. Only a few days later, they capture the gun the shot the shells, and a raucous celebration (complete with unwilling refugee women) takes place. The contents of the house are destroyed, Loot and Morgan have an "intimate" moment and Abel, either by accident or by reason of distraughtness over the castle and Morgan, shoots Loot (and misses). You can imagine the ending.
At times this is an uncomfortable read, but Banks is such a good author that you don't want to put the book aside.
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