Reviewed by Francine.
The Empress Emerald is a well-researched Historical saga, in which a cruel twist of fate leaves a boy orphaned in tragic circumstances, semi-adopted, and once again abandoned. And so, from Colonial India at the time of the British Raj, to the Russian Revolution, and to war torn Europe of 1940, Leo Kazan’s life unfolds.
Merely a wide-eyed child in India of 1900 and unaware of deceptive practises associated with spy networking, and the manipulative notions of Sir Lionel Pinecoffin (British official), Leo it is deemed has all the makings for a useful child spy. His linguistic learning ability also sets him fair for foreign assignments and covert missions when of suitable age. All the while, Leo’s natural magpie tendencies and opportunistic nature lends impetus to the acquisition of a secret valuable stash throughout childhood and in to adulthood: a self-interest insurance policy, admittedly, but why not when you know you’re working for masters who deceive and abuse trust at every turn.
As time passes, love is found and lost along life’s path, and Leo makes the best of what comes his way. But where life has cruel twists of fate, sometimes fate comes full circle as though to make amends for past heartaches. Leo finally discovers who he is. And a love that never truly faded cannot be denied when it again steps across his path, nor can it be let slip as ordained in the past by circumstance of a master’s dictate. By the end of this book Leo is his own man and sets his own destiny. Nonetheless, the author affords wonderful insight to the lives of other characters. And while individual stories unravel and run parallel alongside Leo’s, historical facts lend sense of time and place to worldly events. A lovely, lovely story, with amusing childhood cameos not unlike those of Richmal Crompton’s “Just William” novels.