|About the Book|
At Oxford in1898 an upright, but naive, scion of the Berkshire aristocracy, John Landon, befriends the burly Russian prince, Alexander Borodin. College life, various undergraduate peccadilloes and a duel cement a companionship that leads Landon intoMoreAt Oxford in1898 an upright, but naive, scion of the Berkshire aristocracy, John Landon, befriends the burly Russian prince, Alexander Borodin. College life, various undergraduate peccadilloes and a duel cement a companionship that leads Landon into a complex web of personal relationships and into the wider world of Great Power play before 1914.In Russia at Borodins invitation Landon encounters the lovely Varinsky heiress, her baronial father, and a calculating uncle, Dimitri, a powerful Tsarist general. These Varinskys size him up for their later purposes. Back in Oxford in 1899 Landon and Borodin volunteer quixotically for the Boer War, though on opposing sides. A fortuitous encounter in South Africa and an error by Borodin see Landon take his first steps up the ladder of the Edwardian War Office as Lord Kitcheners protege.Returning temporarily to Russia in 1905 to escape the scheming Etta Delville, who is the toast of the London avant garde, Landon falls finally for the Varinsky heiress. But the latter is wounded - perhaps intentionally - in an archery contest when she comes to marry Landon in England. To complicate her convalescence she takes a risky decision to return to the deathbed of her father in Russia. Thereafter, a mysterious silence falls ...Near distraction, Landon takes leave and pursues his heiress to Russia, where he finds her recuperating at a sanatorium on the Black Sea. Here, the toils of the net of betrayal long designed for him begin to close round. With apparent good reason Landon believes that marriage at his family home has secured him his heiress. Yet this putative bride disappears several years later in what is ruled to be a suicide in Lake Geneva. Meanwhile he has advanced to a central role in co-ordinating Britains pre-war Entente alliances with France and Russia. On the rebound he marries Etta Delville, who only tightens the toils around him!The mystery surrounding the drowning of Lord Kitchener in 1916 at last begins to open Landons eyes to the fact that the smoke and mirrors of Great Power espionage have misled him over many years. Varinsky and the German general, Axel von Schwanefeld, have orchestrated the conspiracy, but they have recruited allies whose guilt, when revealed, all but shatters Landon. He seeks solace in the Flanders trenches. Yet he is driven to establish the full range of the betrayals and deceptions that have enveloped him, so he ventures after the Great War in 1919 into the murk of Revolutionary Russia. Here, he receives some of the answers- the remainder he must seek back at Lake Geneva and even in the New World. But eventually his tenacity wins him his hearts desire, and he makes a moving confession, as a rehabilitated officer and gentleman, in a memoir for his children after the Second World War ...(The author of this book is a Rhodes Scholar and academic. He holds two docorates, one from Oxford. His writing rests partly upon experience of living in three continents and travelling extensively.).