Tsar’s Dragons


A trilogy that relates the sweeping story of endeavour and endurance, loves and passions set in the hills of Wales and the Russian Steppes from 1869 – to 1956. Based on the exploits and achievements of Welshman John Hughes who, at the Tsar’s invitation, built an ironworks and founded a city, Hughesovka (now Donetsk) in the Ukraine. The emigrant colliers and ironworkers he recruited in industrial Wales emulated the settlers who travelled westwards by waggon train in America, with one major difference, their bullock carts turned  east to the Russian Steppe.

Hughesovka, a town of opportunity and new beginnings,  rapidly gained notoriety as a hotbed of villainy, where murderers, thieves, whores and illicit love affairs flourished. The immigrants were housed by John Hughes in his “New Russia Company” houses, living alongside aristocrats in manors, and peasants whose homes were holes scooped in the steppe. All soon discovered that plague, famine and massacres could strike in palaces as well as pits.


In 1869, “modernising” Russian Tsar, Alexander 11 formulated a plan to drag Russia into the industrial age. He began by inviting Welsh entrepreneur John Hughes to build an ironworks on the Russian Steppe. A wealthy, successful, Victorian businessman, John left wife, family, mansion, and country to travel 1000 miles to a primitive backwater, medieval in state and outlook. A charismatic visionary with enormous personal magnetism, John persuaded Britain’s old aristocracy and nouveau riche to invest in his venture, while concealing his greatest secret – he couldn’t even write his own name. He recruited adventurers like himself, prepared to sacrifice everything, including their lives to ensure the success of his new town – Hughesovka. Men like Glyn Edwards, who’d spent his married life travelling with and working for John to avoid his wife in Merthyr. The young and ambitious, typified by newly qualified Dr Peter Edwards and his workhouse raised wife, Sarah, seeking an escape from class ridden Britain. Alexei Beletsky, a Russian aristocrat who sees Russia’s future in John’s plans for modernisation. Cowed Jews forced live “beyond the pale” like Dr Nathan Kharber who accept anti-Semitism as the inevitable fate of their race. And those fleeing violence in and destitution Wales, like young brother and sister, Richard and Anna Parry.


The second volume in Catrin Collier’s epic The Tsar’s Dragons series, set in the late nineteenth-century Russian Empire. Welsh industrialist John Hughes has succeeded in building his ironworks on the Russian Steppe – and a city bearing his name has grown up around it. For people like Hughes’ right-hand man, Glyn Edwards, who has found love in a new country, and Anna Parry, a Welsh orphan who has found fulfilment working in Hughesovka’s hospital, the city offers a chance to build a new life – but fresh arrivals from their hometown cause trouble and threaten the peace and stability of their new existence. Meanwhile, for ambitious Russians like Alexei Beletsky, the city offers a chance to change their homeland for the better – but Alexei still has to deal with the ancient prejudices of his people when  he marries a Jewish girl, Ruth, and the new couple make enemies among both races.


For those possessed of John Hughes’s vision and work ethic, the town of  Hughesovka on the Russian Steppe has fulfilled their wildest dreams. Colliers and ironworkers born in the slums of Merthyr, and Pontypridd find themselves wealthy enough within a generation, to buy and build palaces in Hughesovka and St Petersburg and employ the staff to run them. With John Hughes at the helm, The New Russia Company goes from strength to strength and the town of Hugheskova (or Yuzkova), becomes a city. Many of Hughes’s working class Welsh Victorian engineers acquire and adopt the trappings of aristocratic life,  carriages, fine clothes and jewels, but when the First World War breaks out and the Russian Revolution  become a reality,  the lives of Welsh immigrants, along with Russian aristocrats, Jews and Cossacks are changed forever. The fortunate  are the ones who escape with their lives . . .

Buy all 3 books