Adding to the treasure trove of actual events that the historical novelist is blessed with are the real people of those times, many of whom grace this book. It is particularly pleasing to develop this rich mother lode into brief but colourful appearances within the story, the places and timing of which, if not the actualité, accord with the known detail of their lives. Lord Byron is one such person, and the author has taken the liberty of including a few words (in Chapter 5, for 22nd November 1823) of simple yet sublime prose which Byron himself wrote within his journal for the 17th October 1823 describing his quietude in Cephalonia some weeks before he departed for his destiny in Missolonghi.
A selected verse of Byron’s famous poem (within a poem) The Isles of Greece (within Canto III of Don Juan) precedes each chapter, the first verse being on the front title page. Lord Milton’s stirring address to the formative London Greek Committee on 3rd May 1823 is similarly reproduced verbatim. The reader may also perceive the influence of that engaging wit Mark Twain gracing a few of these pages.
Notwithstanding that this is a work of fiction the author has strived for the inclusion of many real historical events throughout the story. It is little realised, for example, that the phrase ‘truth is stranger than fiction’, now in commonplace use, actually originated from Lord Byron. The capture of Byron’s companion, Count Gamba, by the Turks, which is described in Chapter Six of this book, was a real event, and there surely cannot be anything stranger in fiction than the true tale of the Turk captain fortuitously recognising his Greek captive counterpart, his own former rescuer, after an interval of fully fifteen years.
This first book is dedicated to all those who have served in the Royal Navy, past and present: to whom; lest we forget, our debt is immeasurable.