Good God, this book is amazing. It has the massive cast and sprawl of War & Peace, and an apocalyptic feel that reminded me of - oh shut up - The Stand. It´s longer than it looks; Llosa has a terse style, so things happen at a rapid clip. It took me longer to read than I thought it would. But not like I was bored! This was one of those cases where I felt anxious as the end of the book neared, bummed out that it was going to be over soon.
It taught me that I need to pick books based on more than geographical location. I thought it would be fun to read a Latin American author while on vacation in Mexico, but reading these epic scenes of slaughter and carnage in front of a pool with men in starched uniforms offering me daquiris and Bob Marley blaring tinnily behind me felt frankly gross.
Which reminds me, I should warn you: this isn´t for the faint of heart. The final 300 pages or so are absolutely nothing but death. Also: for several reasons, do not make a drinking game where you have to do a shot every time someone gets his penis cut off and shoved into his mouth.
Postscript: I've done some research; the book is almost entirely true. It's about the War of Canudos in the late 19th century in Brazil - so that's just around when HG Wells was writing, just before Edith Wharton, for perspective.