Spies & love in The Great War
We tend to think of the war with Afghanistan as a recent occurrence, brought by the war against terrorism that has run at full hilt since 9/11. And when I wrote Great & Unfortunate Desires, the opening takes place in Afghanistan during war, c. 1870. This seemed to confuse some of my friends, thinking I was trying to put the story in slant with today’s headlines. Yet, the war in Afghanistan is over 200 years old…
I watched the latest of the Sherlock Holmes movies and there is a reference to Dr. Holmes having served in the British military during the war in Afghanistan. That intrigued me but my first foray into research indicated the conflict there in the early part of the 19th century, in which Great Britain, hungry to expand her empire and hoping the land north of India would prove as great a find as India herself. But war in the Middle East for western Europeans proved a disaster. Interesting yes, but before the time period for Sherlock Holmes.
Then a good friend of mine mentioned The Great War. This is another attempt by Great Britain in the Middle East to conquer, only this time, the rules were different. Czarist Russia was also in an expansion mode and wanted the riches of India, which was still under British control and as a jewel in her empire crown, the English weren’t about to lose India. So Afghanistan became the battleground for these two large empires. Referred to as The Great War, both sides infiltrated the country with spies set among the tribes of Afghanistan as a way to route out where their opponent was, what strength they had and if they’d gained any support. The price for the people of Afghanistan was high during this power siege and left them embittered, making both England and Russia regret their tactics as both countries still today have issues with the lands north of India.
But this war also feeds the mind of a writer and the result is the espionage and intrigue that plagues Tristan, the Marquis of Wrenworth and his quest for revenge. But his past as a spy will also threaten the one woman he loves in Great & Unfortunate Desires.
Tell me – do any movies or books compel you to learn more like I did with the Sherlock Holmes line? Best comment wins an ebook copy of Tristan & Evelyn’s tale.
Great & Unfortunate Desires
Afghanistan, June 1868
The blade slid inside the skin with ease, like butter. Blood, deep red, seeped around the steel, spilling downward. The victim helped force the weapon into his own flesh, but as the sword sliced into the organs beneath, his hand dropped lazily. The muted gasp of pain, barely audible from the man kneeling before him, registered in the killer’s ears.
Tristan St. James stood, his hand on the hilt of the sword, every nerve inside him on fire. Appalled at what he had been forced to do, he fought against showing his anguish. If there was a Hell, it was here, on Earth, right now in front of him. His vision blurred.
The man before him, Grifton Reynard, looked hard at him. As his robes turned crimson, he gagged and blood dripped from the corner of his mouth.
“Promise me you’ll take care of her,” he gritted out. “Promise me!”
“I promise. And I will find the bastard who did this,” Tristan hissed, his voice low and angry.
His friend gave a tense nod. He coughed a rattling noise as he choked, blood spewing like a geyser from his mouth. It hit Tristan on his face, adding to the stream from his own wound there, and staining the cream and maroon-trimmed cotton of his robes. But it didn’t matter. He couldn’t move, his feet firmly glued to the hard dirt surface. Grifton fell backward, his body thudded against the ground, eyes open but no longer seeing, his mouth askew, his lips and chin covered in his blood.
The sword fell free and hit the ground with a clank, as if it’d hit a rock.
His best friend, and his subordinate in this awful war of intrigue, lay dead before Tristan, by his hand. A pain–deep, gut wrenching and as violent as the act he’d just committed–seized his chest, strangling his heart. Swallowing hard, he shut his eyes for just a moment, an attempt to subdue the pain, to deaden it.
Unable to leave Grifton there, he bent and grabbed the man’s arms, yanked him up and threw him over his shoulder. The lifeless body hung like a sack of grain. Not that Tristan cared. No, his mind was assessing, reassessing and analyzing the material in his head. Like the cold-blooded killer they had made him, he narrowed the field of suspects who could have orchestrated this. Someone with everything to gain and more to lose if it failed.
He’d find out who had betrayed him and his men, the man responsible for their deaths, and kill him.
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