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"An engaging, evocative work..." — Kirkus Reviews

Into the Carpathains cover

Into the Carpathians

A Journey Through the Heart and History of Central and Eastern Europe

[Part 1: The Eastern Mountains]


By Alan E. Sparks, author of Dreaming of Wolves: Adventures in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania


IPPY Bronze Medal IPPY Bronze Medal NGIA Finalist Medal
Click photos to explore Into the Carpathians

Travelogue extraordinaire...

Join the author and his companions on an intriguing adventure through the Carpathian Mountains, and deeply experience this profoundly beautiful, wild, storied, and influential landscape:

Romania flag In Romania...
  • The diverse parade of peoples who have sought sustenance, plunder, power, peace, and bounty in the Transylvanian highlands.
  • The ancient Kingdom of Dacia, eastern rival of Rome, and its holistic-healing god Zalmoxis.
  • The ancient Carpi tribe, daunting imperial harassers who disappeared into the misty hills leaving behind little but their namesake.
  • The invasion of the Huns and Attila's reign of terror from his base in the Carpathian Basin.
  • The Almas Cave, Transylvanian fortress and destination of the Pied Piper on his subterranean march from Germany—a metaphor for the migration of real Saxon settlers.
  • Medieval guardians of Carpathian passes for the Kingdom of Hungary: Saxons, Széklers, Vlachs (Romanians), and Teutonic Knights.
  • The roots of the Unitarian Church in Transylvania, cultivated by Ferenc Dávid.
  • A brief natural history of Carpathian wolves.
  • A brief unnatural history of Carpathian werewolves.
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula influences the legacy of Transylvania.
  • The enduring Wooden Churches of Maramureş, UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Bridge across the Great Schism: The foundations of the Greek Catholic Church in Eastern Europe.
  • Legends of magic and treasure inspired by The Feast of Saint George.
Ukraine flag In Ukraine...
  • Modern politics in Ukraine: The Orange Revolution—prelude to the current conflict with Russia.
  • A brief history of Transcarpathia, Ukraine’s free-spirited mountain province.
  • The colorful and rambunctious Carpatho-Rusyn cultures of the northeastern Carpathians: in this, Part 1, the Hutsuls and Boykos.
  • The frolicking magic of Ivan Kupala Day.
  • The foundations of the Indo-European family of languages just to the east of the Carpathians.
  • Early cultures of the Ukrainian Carpathians and the rapid expansion of the early Slavs along the forested slopes.
  • The semi-mythical foundation of Kievan Rus’, Viking-influenced progenitor of Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.
  • The legacy of Ukraine’s national poet, Taras Shevchenko.
  • The cool and majestic Beechwood forests of the Carpathians, UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Woodland strongholds: seeds of cities and centers of security, trade, and worship.
  • Wolf tales of the Ukrainian Carpathians.
  • The alluring and erotic rusalki, dangerous sirens of rivers, lakes, and bogs.
  • Murder by starvation: The horrors of the Holodomor.
  • The Slavic thunder-god Perun and the multifarious deities, sprites, and spirits of Slavic mythology.
The Carpathian and Sudetes Mountain regions of Slovakia Slovakia flag, the Czech Republic Czech Republic flag, and Poland Poland flag will be featured in Part 2.