They say that Tolstoy is the greatest of all novelists.
I don't know about that, but I definately concede that he is a great novelist (I just don't feel qualified to say greatest--possibly I'll have to read War & Peace before I can judge). There's something to the way he fleshes out his characters, gradually and thoroughly, that makes his books brilliant and dense.
HADJI MURAD is about an event in a war, in 1851, between Russia and the Caucasus. It's a short novel, published after Tolstoy's death, and it opens with one of the most lovely scenes I've read in a long time. A short book, worth mulling over.