Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kingdoms Fall — The Korniloff Affair
Reviewed by Dennis Linton

Kingdoms Fall — The Korniloff Affair
by Edward Parr
Create Space Publishing, 2014


New York Times headline of 9 November 1917

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The events of 1916–17 in Europe are the setting for this latest historical thriller by Edward Parr. This is the second installment in the author's "Kingdoms Fall" series and follows Kingdoms Fall — The Laxenburg Message (2013). This episodic book continues to tell the story of the major events of World War I through the perspective of two British officers working for the newly formed Secret Intelligence Service. We were introduced to our main protagonists, David Gresham, the lieutenant, already an undercover agent, and Captain James Wilkins, secretly the son of Lord Bartlett, in the first book of the series on the battlefields of Gallipoli where they formed a team. The first book saw the duo take on a series of increasingly difficult espionage missions that indirectly changed the path of the early years of the Great War.

The fast pace of the second installation weaves intricate events as they unfold across the continent with Gresham and Wilkins as witnesses or players. The book opens with them chasing a mysterious German spy trying to incite rebellion in Ireland to undermine the war aims of the British Empire. While this theme continues, our novice spies once again take on their military role in the Battle of the Somme. The book is at its best when it describes action on the battlefields where our heroes shine…most of the time. However, given the fast pace, the book quickly moves back to explaining the diplomatic dealings of building and shifting alliances. Thus the scenes quickly shift to Italy with a young Mussolini, to Salonika and the Greeks, and ultimately to Romania.

As the daring duo leave for Romania the pace magnificently slows down. Just like the first book, Edward Parr does a splendid job of telling the story of the lesser-known theaters in the war. For example, the book accurately (with a bit of creativity on the role of Gresham and Wilkins) describes Romania's entry and subsequent failures in the war. As the adventures continues to unfold, the author further develops the characters' personal side.

General L.G. Kornilov, 1916
A new character is introduced, a nurse who is caring for one of our heroes but develops as a love interest for the other. The nurse Emma is American, an aide-mémoire for those Americans who romantically volunteered to serve in the war's early years. Emma becomes both a challenge and asset to Wilkins and Gresham as they move to their biggest adventure yet: keeping Russia in the war as an ally while its very empire is collapsing at the beginning of the Russian Revolution. The tale touches on the complexities of a revolution where a young Stalin, Kerensky, and finally General Korniloff try to guide the fall of the empire and the future of Russia in their own visions. This collides with the mission of keeping Russia in the war, and ultimately each of our main characters has to choose his own dangerous path in the tumultuous events rapidly unfolding. Gresham, Wilkins, and even Emma shift between the roles of behind-the-scenes player, witness, and sometimes victim as the final scenes unfold. The storytelling is illustrative and action-packed. This book is highly recommended, and as a reader and historian I eagerly await the next in the "Kingdoms Fall" series.

Dennis Linton


  1. Thank you for the thoughtful article. As a favor to your readers, we have arranged for the e-book edition to be available for FREE on June 24 and 25, 2015 from Amazon at I am also pleased to report that the third and final novel in the series, Kingdoms Fall - The Wieringen Proposal, has gone to the presses and will be available for purchase on December 1, 2015. That story begins at Passchendaele and includes both "diplomacy" and battles on the Western Front as the Americans finally arrive in France.

  2. Thanks for the review -- and the information on the FREE kindle book offer. I'm always looking for great WWI fiction. :)

  3. Note that a related web site is available: