Follet's sensational best seller is set just before the outbreak of World War I, when Britain must enlist the aid of Russia. Czar Nicholas' nephew is to visit London for secret naval talks with Lord Walden, who has lived in Russia and has a Russian wife, Lydia. But there are other people who are interested in the arrival of Prince Alexei: the Waldens' only daughter, Charlotte - wilful, idealistic, and with an awakening social conscience; Basil Thomson, head of the Special Branch; and above all, Feliks Kschessinsky, the ruthless Russian anarchist. But little did anyone suspect that Lydia should recognise Feliks, or that she might put her own daughter's life at risk for his sake.
As the secret negotiations progress, the destinies of these characters become ineluctably enmeshed. And, as Europe prepares for the catastrophe of war, the final private tragedy that will shatter the complacency of the Waldens is acted out.
© Ken Follett; (P) Macmillan Publishers Ltd