Can one man stop a war?
In the vacuum left by the collapse of Communism, long-suppressed national rivalries are poised to wreak havoc.
A leading Communist contacts Olympic athlete Ruslan Shanidza and begs him to return to his newly-independent homeland and use his popularity among all ethnic groups to halt the slide to civil war.
So begins a fraught peace mission that takes Ruslan deep into the conflict zone. But how far can he trust his Communist ally? What is his real agenda?
And when everything starts to fall apart, the extremists who want a war move in for the kill…
“Few novels start as savagely and alarmingly as this…The place is the northern Caucasus; the time the murderous period of chaos left by the collapse of the Soviet Union…Events in ‘Ksordia-Akhtaria’ are not only a guide to the recent past but – unhappily – to the bloodshed and intrigue of the likely future.”
Neal Ascherson, author of Black Sea and The Polish August.
“…melds themes of conflict, loss, and love in this politically charged thriller that arrests the reader’s attention from the first page…solid characters…the most endearing and relatable thing about them is their humanity…an exhilarating read”
OnlineBookClub.org Official Review
“An energetic continuation of the Ruslan Shanidza story from The Price of Dreams. Political intrigue, personal vendettas, believable characters, interesting plot twists.”
EP Goodreads Reviewer
This second Ruslan Shanidza novel follows on from The Price of Dreams but can be enjoyed as a stand-alone.
THE FOUR men lay on the road, not daring to move. The rain pounded down upon them, but they stayed where they were, face down on the tarmac. Only after several minutes did one of them have the nerve to raise his head to see if the gunmen were still there.
‘Sergo,’ he said, ‘they’ve gone.’
Sergo Lionidza looked up.
Mikhel Inalipa cautiously raised himself to his hands and knees. He looked at the car, which sizzled and bubbled. He could smell petrol and was surprised it hadn’t exploded when they shot it up.
He got to his feet, crouching down low.
‘Be careful,’ hissed Lionidza.
‘They’ve gone, I’m sure of it.’
Lionidza raised his considerable weight to his hands and knees. ‘Where’s Ruslan?’
Mikhel looked all round. ‘I don’t know. I can’t see him.’
‘Maybe he’s down there,’ said the Ksordian village leader.
‘I’ll have a look.’
Mikhel tried to stand, but he still didn’t dare to straighten up. It wasn’t quite dark, and he was scared the gunmen might see him. He shuffled his way to the edge of the road and looked down into the gloom.
He couldn’t see Ruslan anywhere.
Perhaps he had managed to escape.
A fork of lightning flashed across the sky and Ruslan flickered into view. He was down the embankment, where the impact of the bullets had thrown him, lying upside-down on his back, his head right near the bottom.
The sight of him came as a crushing blow to Mikhel.
It was true.
They had really shot him.
The thunder growled and rumbled, and Mikhel started to climb down and then slipped and skidded to the bottom.
He crawled over to where Ruslan lay. The rain had washed away most of the blood, but Mikhel could just make out the dark marks on his chest and his flank where the bullets had hit him.
Another thunderbolt lit up Ruslan’s face. It had the pallor of death. His eyes were half open, and his mouth and nose were full of blood.
Mikhel crossed himself and put his hands on Ruslan’s eyes to close them. As he did so, Ruslan seemed to blink, ever so fleetingly.
He couldn’t believe it. He put his fingers to Ruslan’s throat and felt for a pulse. Yes, there it was.
‘You’re alive! Jesus Christ, you’re alive!’