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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The End of Freddy

Peter Pišt'anek

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To purchase The End of Freddy

Title: The End of Freddy
Author: Peter Pišt'anek
Genre: Novel
Written: 1999 (Eng. 2008)
Length: 319 pages
Original in: Czech/Slovakian
Availability: The End of Freddy - US
The End of Freddy - UK
The End of Freddy - Canada
  • Rivers of Babylon 3
  • Slovak title: Fredyho koniec
  • Translated by Peter Petro

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Our Assessment:

A- : a wild and weird conclusion to the trilogy

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Telegraph . 30/12/2008 Julian Evans

  From the Reviews:
  • "Whether you think Pišťanek has finally gone off the rails will depend on your willingness to suspend your disbelief. What carries The End of Freddy is Pišťanek’s indefatigable energy and his Rabelaisian bravura." - Julian Evans, The Telegraph

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The End of Freddy is the final installment in the Rivers of Babylon-trilogy, and while powerful magnate-cum-Mafioso Rácz remains a presence -- he has his fingers in everything -- the main character this time around is Alfréd Mešt'anek, better known in these volumes as Freddy Piggybank (and, by the end of this one, as Emperor Telgarth I ...).
       The End of Freddy is in some ways a more traditional and focussed novel than its predecessors. While Pišt'anek juggles a variety of storylines, the two main ones follow Freddy -- a very successful maker of pornographic videos under the label Freddy Vision -- and events in a (fictional) Arctic outpost, the Junjan Archipelago, where the local Slovak population (a national minority -- though with a vast majority of the population -- with no rights) is waging war against the Soviet-style Junjans.
       Slovakia itself is in quite a state by this time -- "going from bad to worse" -- as the separation from the Czech Republic has given them their independence but apparently little else:

     Urban can't understand why Slovakia has to be such a bewitched country. Maybe it's because thepeople are hard working, but stupid. Again and again, they let politicians pull the wool over their eyes. They always fall for it.
       Pišt'anek couldn't be clearer that the novel is also very much about the national split and its consequences, as the book itself is actually bilingual, with long sections in Czech alternating with Slovakian (different typefaces are used in the English text to alert readers to which language is being used). The linguistic split is joked about too -- Freddy has to dub his Slovakian videos in Czech, for example:
Slovaks tolerate Czech, but Czechs can't understand Slovak.
       Or, when they're drunk, some Czechs try to humour a visiting Slovak:
In extreme cases, some tried to speak Slovak, which they fancied to be Czech spoken with a Russian accent.
       It is, however, the Czechs that are supporting the Slovak rebel forces in Junja -- even going so far as to resurrect the Czech navy and training submarine crews to lend support. While Junja seems like a pretty godforsaken outpost, a lichen that grows there is vital for the perfume industry; as it turns out -- though it is a well-kept secret -- Junja is also rich in other natural resources -- so rich that whoever controls it would immediately become a major world power. (No surprise that the Czechs wind up with the short end of that stick -- and that Rácz installs himself in Junja by the end.)
       Half adventure-story and thriller, Pišt'anek takes his time in getting his characters to Junja. As usual, he displays a nice touch with some incidental characters -- here, for example, the up-and-comer (and very well-endowed) Zongora, who gets into the porn-acting-business but then gets under Freddy's skin: a significant figure for a while, Pišt'anek eventually merely brushes him aside:
     But enough of Zongora. He disappears from this book. Why mention a person who no longer has any meaning for us ?
       Freddy also makes his deal with the devil as he befriends Rácz -- even as Rácz warns him:
But being Rácz's friend is not that simple. Rácz's friendship is cruel, harsh, and demanding.
       But Rácz also pushes him to enjoy some thrill-taking, as Freddy joins his Adrenalin Club -- though Freddy's own risk-taking costs him dearly, and eventually is what gets him to set out for Junja, where a whole new set of adventures await him.
       It's an unusual sort of thriller, and certainly an unpredictable one, but in its odd way very good entertainment. "He's probably not that famous", one character says when he draws a blank at the name Peter Pišt'anek; maybe not -- at least outside Slovakia -- but he writes fine and fun books.

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The End of Freddy: Peter Pišt'anek: Other books by Peter Pišt'anek under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Slovakian author Peter Pišt'anek was born in 1960 and died in 2015.

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