It was not that bad. I mean, it was, but it wasn't. The story deals with the war, obviously, of 1812 between Russia and Napoleon. There were parts that.....*snooze*. Most of the war stuff was horrid. Horrid as in boring, not bloody or anything But hello? 'WAR and Peace', not 'Fluffy Goodness & Peace.' The war parts dragged.
The book also deals with the lives of several Russian families. We see them grow during the 8 years that the book spans. It took a while for me to get used to who was who. Thankfully the book had a little "Who's Who" at the front that I kept referring to for the first 400 pages or so, until I figured it out.
There were characters I hated that I ended up getting teary-eyed over whenn they died. There were characters that I YELLED at (Natasha - idiot), characters that made me want to choke them because of their stupidity (Pierre) or because with their conniving, scheming and cheating (Helene - she was written very immoral for the time) or because of their stubbornness and meanness (Andre's father, Prince Nikolai). I enjoyed their portrayal because the range of emotions they evoked from me.
Tolstoy does a lot of narrating to us, the reader. At times, I agreed with him wholeheartedly. History, he says, really is so subjective. Who relates history if not the winner? History is so skewed. To the victor go the spoils, and the writing of it. Makes sense. History is not about one man (Napoleon) and another (Alexander). They just happened to be there. History is about society as a whole, the elements, the landscape, the weather, the whim of the mass of men doing the actual fighting. The "Men of History" just happen to be there at the right time and "historians" write them in. Tolstoy goes into great detail on his theory, including examples of actual battles and how the battle really had nothing to do with the king or generals running it. It was interesting, but also a bit too long. The book was BOGGED down with his explaining this to us in the second Epilogue. If only he had stopped at the first epilogue.
Hooray for me!