Thrilling, engaging story of the Leningrad siege, told by Benioff as told to him by his grandfather, who is the main character, Lev, who is thrust into the spotlight of the story by looting the dead body of a German paratrooper and getting caught. He meets Koyla in prison, the pair of them rousted the next day and put in front of the Colonel, who needs eggs for his daughter’s wedding. He gives the pair 300 roubles and a week to get the eggs.
This quest for eggs becomes epic, a trudge through the snow into enemy territory, meeting up with a band of partisan resistance fighters whose sniper kills one of the German officers the boys had planned on killing (who stopped at the whorehouse in the woods). Lev falls for the sniper, a girl Vika, who later shows up at his doorstep all gussied up and who becomes Benioff’s grandmother.
Koyla and Lev narrowly escape the cannibals in Leningrad, and they escape their last prison by plotting to play chess with the evil Kommandante, killed by Lev’s thrusting knife into his belly.