I really enjoyed writing this book, and I hope others enjoy reading it.

I have been a diplomat, company director and charity trustee, and am now retired. I studied Latin and ancient Greek at university and although I have sadly forgotten both languages, the history of those times still fascinates me. Since then I have been fortunate to travel to many countries, especially in Asia, and to learn about their cultures and politics. I think those experiences probably provided the basis for this book.

I set out to write the kind of story which I myself would have enjoyed reading when I was young and which I might have read to my two sons when they were young. Everything in it is fictional. Some parts and characters came unprompted into my mind; others required more thought. I struggled with the geography, for example, until I worked out that it was better for the mountains to run North-South than East-West. On the other hand, I wrote the first chapter in one go, and much of the story derives logically from that. From the start, I resolved not to include magic (I’m no match for JK Rowling!), so that everything which happens has a rational explanation, but, like all people until quite recent times, all the characters believe in divine beings, and that may influence their behaviour.

Having written my text, I was brought down with a bump to be told that it was too long and needed extensive editing. I was then extremely lucky to find Kirsty Ridge, whose professional advice has led to many, many improvements.