THE TSAR’S DRAGONS – PRINCES AND PEASANTS – A DRAGON’S LEGACY
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 built an ironworks and founded a city, Hughesovka (Donetsk) in the Ukraine when emigrants from industrial Wales emulated the settlers who travelled westwards by waggon train in America, only their bullock carts turned east to the Russian Steppe.
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. 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.
Hughesovka is a town of opportunity and new beginnings which rapidly becomes a hotbed of villainy, where murderers, thieves, whores and illicit love affairs flourish. The immigrants live alongside aristocrats in manors, and peasants whose homes are holes scooped in the steppe and discover that plague, famine and massacres can strike in palaces as well as pits.
Within a generation, the town of Hugheskova (or Yuzkova), becomes a city. Many of Hughes’s working class Welsh Victorian engineers acquire the trappings of aristocratic life, mansions, carriages, servants and second homes in St Petersburg but the First World War and revolution loom just over the horizon . . .