What if a Siberian Joan of Arc had rescued the White Armies at a critical point of the Russian Civil War? MAID OF BAIKAL offers an alternative outcome to that war through the intervention of Zhanna Dorokhina, a young woman from the shores of Siberia’s Lake Baikal.
TRANSBAIKALIA PROVINCE, RUSSIA, 1918.
In a quiet town near Siberia’s Lake Baikal, Zhanna Dorokhina turns eighteen as the Russian Civil War rages. She is a bright, headstrong girl, with normal hopes and dreams, but for years, she has heard inner voices. The voices tell her to be virtuous, study well, and nurture her faith, for a great task lies ahead.
Lately, however, the voices have turned ominous, foretelling Russia’s doom if the White Armies fail to drive the Bolsheviks from Moscow. Obeying her voices, Zhanna travels to Omsk to alert the Siberian dictator, Admiral Kolchak, and to seek command of an army to besiege the capital.
When Zhanna informs her father, he thinks her mad. But a young American intelligence officer and his Russian counterpart help her win an audience with the Admiral, and the two young men become her wartime companions.
Like the historical Joan of Arc in medieval France, Zhanna displays a remarkable charisma and military prowess that, in due time, win her command of an army. Over the coming months, she leads her men across vast expanses of untamed forest and steppe, where suffering, violence and treachery await at every turn.
Zhanna’s obsessive pursuit of victory provokes powerful rivals, however. Defying a ceasefire, she wins her greatest battle, only to ride into a Bolshevik ambush. Held captive, she can expect no rescue. Thus she must endure a vengeful show trial alone and await its verdict without knowing whether her prophecies will ever be fulfilled.
MAID OF BAIKAL is a richly imagined speculation on the Russian Civil War that vividly portrays its violence, bitterness, and hardship, while telling the inspirational story of a determined young woman who perseveres in the face of overwhelming obstacles.
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Preston Fleming writes realist thrillers set in exceptional times and places, from Siberia during the Russian Civil War (MAID OF BAIKAL), to explosive 1980s Beirut (DYNAMITE FISHERMEN), to a near-future gulag-style labor camp in Utah (FORTY DAYS AT KAMAS). His experience as a diplomat, lawyer and corporate executive, combined with his ultra-lean writing style, lend rare authenticity to his stories. All of Preston’s six novels have received praise from KIRKUS REVIEWS and other publications. Preston is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, but left home at fourteen for boarding school and has been on the move ever since. Today he and his wife live in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains with a Belgian Sheepdog they rescued after it bit too many humans in Delaware.