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Word Count: 897
War and peace opens in the Russian city of St Petersburg in 1805 as Napoleons conquest of western Europe is just beginning to stir fears in Russia Many of the novels characters are introduced at a society hostesss party among them Pierre Bezukhov the socially awkward but likeable illegitimate son of a rich count and Andrew Bolkonski the intelligent and ambitious son of a retired military commander We also meet the sneaky and shallow Kuragin family including the wily father Vasili the fortune-hunter son Anatole and the ravishing daughter Helene We are introduced to the Rostovs a noble Moscow family including the lively daughter Natasha the quiet cousin Sonya and the impetuous son Nicholas who has just joined the army led by the old General Kutuzov The Russian troops are mobilized in alliance with the Austrian empire which is currently resisting Napoleons onslaught Both Andrew and Nicholas go to the front Andrew is wounded at the Battle of Austerlitz and though he survives he is long presumed dead Pierre is made sole heir of his fathers fortune and marries Helene Kuragina in a daze Helene cheats on Pierre and he challenges her seducer to a duel in which Pierre nearly kills the man Andrews wife Lise gives birth to a son just as Andrew arrives home to his estate much to the shock of his family Lise dies in childbirth leaving Andrews devout sister Mary to raise the son Meanwhile Pierre disillusioned by married life leaves his wife and becomes involved with the spiritual practice of Freemasonry He attempts to apply the practices teachings to his estate management and share these teachings with his skeptical friend Andrew who is doing work to help reform the Russian government Meanwhile the Rostov familys fortunes are failing thanks in part to Nicholass gambling debts The Rostovs consider selling their beloved family estate Otradnoe Nicholas is encouraged to marry a rich heiress despite his earlier promise
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