Leo Kazan is half Russian and half Indian, an orphan (or so he believes) and a talented linguist. He is also a thief, attracted like a magpie to everything which glitters. He becomes the protégé of Sir Lionel Pinchcoffin, the District Political Officer in Bombay, who recognises Leo’s talents and turns him into a spy. From an early age, Leo is immersed in the seedy world ofLeo Kazan is half Russian and half Indian, an orphan (or so he believes) and a talented linguist. He is also a thief, attracted like a magpie to everything which glitters. He becomes the protégé of Sir Lionel Pinchcoffin, the District Political Officer in Bombay, who recognises Leo’s talents and turns him into a spy. From an early age, Leo is immersed in the seedy world of international espionage, revolutionary politics and diamond smuggling. He travels from India to Europe and Russia, but the most meaningful time in his life are a few stolen days when he meets and falls in love with Davina Dymond in London.As the drums of war reverberate around the world for the second time in their lives, Leo begins to understand his history and Davina, trapped in war-torn Spain, turns to crime to survive. Both must unshackle themselves from the ways of the old world, and those who seek to manipulate them, before they can find true happiness - and each other.‘An epic and enthralling novel of love and separation, betrayal and treachery, which sweeps the reader across continents from India and Russia to Spain and England. Individual lives are torn apart by the flood of war and political manipulation, yet even as they struggle in that drowning tide, Leo and Davina discover their own identities and place of belonging. Cinematic, with a rich tapestry of colour and characters.’Karen Maitland – author of 'The Falcons of Fire and Ice'...
|Title||:||The Empress Emerald|
|Number of Pages||:||463 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Empress Emerald Reviews
A thoroughly engrossing story that begins with an abducted child and follows his life through 40 years as he travels back and forth from India, Spain, UK and Russia. The depth of detail re political and social change during this time is impressive and interesting and provides a multifaceted backdrop to what becomes a sweeping epic of cinematic style.I loved the vibrant scene setting and the characterisation. Leo, the plump little magpie, whose love of shiny things leads him from an Indian orphanage to the British secret service, and whose love of India brings him into conflict as Home Rule emerges. He’s shrewd and capable, even as a boy. Davina’s tale, though quite different, is equally compelling, a glimpse into life for young women during this period and particularly in a Spanish family. The plot is clever, complex and skilfully constructed and kept my attention throughout. Some sad moments, but a lovely heart-warming love story nevertheless. This would make a marvellous film.Highly recommended.
In the Empress Emerald, we have a tale spanning the life of a man, and by extension the events that surround that life that affect him personally as well as those that are occurring about the globe that changed everyone's lives as well. With the device from the title, Ms. Harlond uses the Empress Emerald which is a necklace to weave itself about the main character like a cloak that will protect and shield our hero, Leo Kazan, as well as be the fire, albeit green since it is an emerald that burns within his breast as well.Without providing spoilers beyond the most general, the story is that of the years of Leo from when he was born at the opening of the 20th century to Britain's entry into the war. It weaves the identity of India, Russia, Spain and England together in a gordian knot of plots, intrigues and tales so that little slivers of all are brought together to unite in a fine tale that shows that such a large thing as an empire, or two, will naturally result in certain individuals living lives that cross borders. And in such a turbulent time with one world war occurring, and another just beginning, the backdrop of history is food for the author to fuel our imaginations and for us to visit places and see sights that are seldom glimpsed. It is not just solely Leo's story, for he has a rather large impact on others as well, and here we find a secondary tale that becomes the equal of our Heroes. Naturally we find that Leo has a love interest that is so well connected that it defies time, miles, and tragedies, to bind our two lovers. They are Bashert, soulmates, in every sense of the word. That Ms. Harlond is able to provide us a compelling tale that we can enjoy their affection for each other, leaves the reader with a need to turn the page to find how this part of the tale will play out.With charm and dignity, out hero and heroine show that the world that was torn apart and tried to reknit itself, only to be ripped to shreds again, is a place where the hope of love, the gift of life can flourish. Did flourish.A well written book with a clear narrative voice that gives it style. It is a true work of historical fiction. Where suspense or mystery might have fought to take over the stage, such was not the case, giving more to the development of our characters that made their lives of love all that more profound.Were we to meet Leo again and see more of his unique life, and how things change with the War and after, knowing that more of the tale is there to be found would be a consummation of the man and his closest family that we have begun to know. Where Emerald has ended, at the brink of the war, we who live now after it has gone, know that there is much historically to relate and having met Leo here in this exceptional tale, also know that he is a character who would have a lot to do during the years of the war and after.
This is a brave, broad brush-stroke novel, encompassing four decades over several continents. The story starts in India, where a young governess makes a spur of the moment decision to abduct a child. Thereby, little Leo Kazan is robbed of his heritage and his parents, and through a number of events ends up in a British run orphanage in Bombay. Leo is the protagonist of the novel, and we watch him grow from a young child to an adept young man, with an impressive ear for languages and an equally impressive sleuth of hand. Little Leo is a magpie, stealing anything bright and shiny. As he grows, this habit of his persists, and Leo amazes a fortune in stolen jewels, his prize catch being the Empress Emerald, a jewel that vaguely resembles the defunct Queen Victoria. Leo has been trained as a spy by his British protectors, and, rather ironically given that his birth father is Russian, is sent to spy in Russia just as the Bolsheviks take power. But prior to that, Leo has spent some time in London, where he meets Davina, the first person he spends time with because he wants to, not because he hopes to get something out of it. Happy young love is not the theme of this novel, so Davina and Leo are separated, he to do his spy thing, she to face the disgrace of being pregnant (by Leo). From England, Davina is sent as a bride to Spain, ending up trapped in a loveless marriage. Leo on the other hand, marries a sweet woman but does not really love her – not until she is murdered and he realises what he has lost. How this story ends, I will leave for the readers to discover for themselves. I personally liked it.Ms X paints very vivid pictures for her readers. Grass swishes, dew glitters, ducks natter and leopards stalk. On top of that, she definitely has her facts straight, guiding a newbie like myself through the maze of political instability in India at the beginning of the 20th century, including a generous amount of details that definitely make me feel I am there, in India. Spain in the initial throes of Civil War is also well-described, as are Leo’s adventures in Russia. Given the span of the novel, time-leaps are at times very long and rather abrupt, and while I understand why the author has to do this (otherwise the novel would have been a behemoth) it does detract from the reading experience – as do the frequent POV slips. Likewise, I remain confused as to why the young governess chose to abduct Leo, even more as to why her father didn’t insist the child be returned to his parents. All in all, though, this is a great read. Leo Kazan is a character that will remain alive in my head for a long time, and I can’t but hope that he finds plenty of happiness down the line. Silly, right? After all, Leo doesn’t even exist!
Catalina Figuroa Da Silva, a Portuguese-Indian from Goa, married to Leonid Kazan, a Russian diplomat is traveling by train from Goa to Bombay with her six month old infant. By chance she finds herself sharing a compartment with Millicent Cleaver, an Anglo-Indian governess. Catalina initiates a conversation with the reluctant Millicent and shows her the valuable Empress Emerald that her husband has bought for her. It may have once belonged to a Tzarina. At a train stop Millicent volunteers to hold the baby while Catalina goes to the bathroom. Catalina, however has an unfortunate encounter with a thief. The Empress Emerald is stolen and Catalina knocked unconscious. Millicent takes the baby and raises the boy as her own. But when the child becomes an inconvenience she leaves him in an orphanage.Little Leo, despite his loneliness and unhappiness thrives after a fashion. He learns all the skills that make life bearable for an orphan. He becomes adept at stealing, hiding things, languages, socializing superficially but without deep commitment, passing for what he is not, and protecting memsahibs from leopards. He develops keen powers of observation. Eventually he attracts the notice of Sir Lionel Pinecoffin, an English civil servant in charge of England’s security interests in the Raj. Sir Lionel takes Leo under his wing and has him trained to be a jewel dealer and a spy. Sent to England at the age of 18, Leo meets Davina, a Cornish girl and they fall intensely in love. Unfortunately Leo is assigned to go to Russia, where the Bolshevik revolution has recently taken place and he cannot refuse the assignment. Davina has become pregnant, and her family marries her off to a wealthy Spaniard.The Empress Emerald follows two lives that have touched briefly but intensely. The Empress Emerald is a compelling novel rich with intrigue, romance and the history of the early 20th century.
The author introduces us to Leo, a boy growing up in an orphanage in Bombay and right away I was intrigued by Leo's circumstances and character. In time his talents are put to use by the British government, setting Leo on a life lived as a spy. Such an occupation comes with the obligatory personal sacrifices and Leo suffers more than his fair share of these.Davina Dymond is an innocent, young romantic ready for marriage. She meets and falls for Leo, but his duty to Britain quickly separates them. Married off to a Spaniard, she must come to terms with a new life in a foreign land soon to be subjected to a brutal civil war.The author has written a real page-turner with great characters, interesting locations and intriguing political undercurrents.Thank you.