"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 deity Zalmoxis.
  • The ancient Carpi tribe: Daunting imperial harassers who disappeared into the misty mountains leaving 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 all the way from Germany—a metaphor for the real migration of Saxons.
  • 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.
  • A brief natural history of Carpathian wolves.
  • A brief unnatural history of Carpathian werewolves.
  • The influence of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
  • The enduring Wooden Churches of Maramureş, UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • The foundations of the Greek Catholic Church in Eastern Europe Bridge across the Great Schism:
  • 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 birth 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 Slavic people along the forested slopes.
  • The semi-mythical foundations of Kievan Rus’: Viking-led 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 cults.
  • 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.