Book Review – The Wild Fields: A Fight for the Soul of Ukraine

The Wild Fields

A recently published novel, The Wild Fields: A Fight for the Soul of Ukraine, provides the story of a man struggling to live a peaceful life and keep his family safe in the battle-weary Donbas region of Ukraine. The story takes place about five years after the Euromaiden revolution of 2014, the Russian invasion of Crimea, and the establishment of two ‘breakaway republics’ by Russian-supported separatists in the Donbas region adjacent to Russia’s border.

Paval Koval and his family reside in the town of Zolote (Google maps) in eastern Ukraine. They live in an apartment building within sight of the ‘line of conflict’; the series of trenches and strongpoints between the Ukrainian army and the separatists. Paval, in his 50s, is a butcher in the local town. The story is about the struggle he has in making the right decisions for himself and his family. Should he take sides in the conflict? Would his family be safer in Odesa, Dnipro, or a location in Ukraine further west? The villagers of Zolote are fearful of an invasion by Russia to ‘come to the aid’ of the separatists. Like Paval, they wonder if they should leave their lifelong homes for safer communities further west.

Paval has been successful in avoiding entanglement in the Donbas conflict and believes his family is relatively safe; but he recognizes things could change quickly. Paval has seen war before, having served with the Soviet army in Afghanistan. He knows he does not want to experience combat again but events beyond his control are bringing him closer to the conflict. He finds himself becoming more and more involved in the intrigue and clandestine nature of the fight between the opposing sides.

This book by Paul D. LeFavor provides a historical background to the current conflict and Ukraine’s struggle to forge an independent path between the West and Russia. It is informative about the Donbas region and why it is so contested by both sides in the conflict. The nature of long war between the pro-Russian insurgents and the pro-Ukrainian counterinsurgents along the ‘line of conflict’ is highlighted in this novel.

The Russians suffered a significant defeat with their failure to capture Kyiv and topple the current government of Ukraine in the opening months of the invasion of early 2022. It has withdrawn its military forces around Kyiv and the northern part of Ukraine and re-positioned them in the Donbas region – where this novel’s story takes place. The Wild Fields is an informative read that sheds light on the years-long conflict in the Donbas region. This timely novel was published on February 15, 2022, just days before the Russians launched their invasion of Ukraine.

The author weaves an interesting account of life in war-torn Zolote. A map of the Donbas region and the town of Zolote is provided in the beginning of the book. This is a good read for those following the Ukraine War and who wish to understand more about the long-running conflict in the Donbas region.


The Wild Fields: A Fight for the Soul of Ukraine, by Paul D. LeFavor, Blacksmith Publishing, Fayetteville, North Carolina, 2022, 274 pages. Paul is a retired Special Forces Master Sergeant who served in several overseas conflicts and continues to provide training to special operations forces as a contractor. 

The book is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

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