Tuesday 24 July 2018

Blog Tour and #Giveaway ~ Last Dance in Kabul By Ken Czech #HFVBTBlogTours #HistoricalFiction @hfvbt

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours presents….

Last Dance in Kabul
By Ken Czech

The Ultimate Dance Between Love and War

When his superiors ignore his warnings of an impending Afghan insurrection in 1841, British army captain Reeve Waterton vows never to return to Kabul. But then he rescues strong-willed Sarah Kane from an ambush and his plans for civilian life and self-preservation unravel around him.

At first Reeve dislikes Sarah as much as she loathes him. She’s as impudent and disdainful of authority as he, plus she’s betrothed to his bitterest rival.

It’s only after Reeve’s closest friend is brutally murdered and the Afghan tribes explode in revolt that he and Sarah discover their desperate need for each other. When the retreating British army is caught between the jaws of Afghanistan’s blizzard-wracked mountain passes and hordes of vengeful tribesmen, Sarah and Reeve must rely on their skills, courage, and blossoming love just to survive.

“You won’t find two more compelling characters than Reeve Waterton and Sarah Kane. I love them. I rooted for them to survive and work things out from the third chapter until the exciting conclusion. Their story was so expertly woven between survival and romance that I found it difficult to pull myself away from it.”
Ray Simmons, for Reader’s Favorite

Last Dance in Kabul
 a word from Ken Czech

Decades ago when I was a graduate student and researching a paper on the 19th century Great Game played out in Central Asia between England and Russia, I came across a most striking painting.  It depicted a ragged, freezing band of British soldiers defiantly holding out against a horde of Afghan fighters. Painted by William Barnes Wollen, The Last Stand of the 44th Foot at Gundamuck, 1842 captured the heroic British "stiff upper lip" temper when confronted by overwhelming odds. Needless to say, the British were wiped out. 

William Barnes Wollen, The Last Stand of the 44th Foot at Gundamuck, 1842  

But why were the soldiers defending themselves in what seemed a most inhospitable landscape? A combination of political and economic fears that imperial Russia was threatening India, England's most valuable colony, sent an army of British East India Company sepoys bolstered by a few regiments of British regulars northward into Afghanistan. Taking a circuitous route through Baluchistan, the massive force soon routed the Afghan resistance. A British puppet was placed on the Afghan throne in Kabul when the old ruler was regarded as being too pro-Russian. Power and greed were the hallmarks of the ensuing British occupation. 

Ultimately both of those hallmarks, coupled with military incompetence, undid the British position.  The Afghans revolted and 15,000 British soldiers, sepoys, and civilians retreated through the perilous mountain passes during the dead of winter. Most died, although a handful were taken hostage. Only Dr. William Brydon managed to ride to safety.

Artwork has always captured my imagination. I look to paintings and drawings for stories, perspective, and emotion. They provide insights into attitudes, dress, climate, and geography. Perhaps that's the historian in me, searching out detail and accuracy, mood and conflict.

Wollen's Last Stand served as my primary inspiration in writing Last Dance In Kabul. Further research brought to light even more art. Lady Elizabeth Butler's famous oil, The Remnants of an Army, depicts an exhausted, bloodied Dr. Brydon arriving at the British fort at Jalalabad. James Atkinson, a surgeon who marched with the first British army to Kabul in 1839 and was recalled to India just prior to the tragedy, published Sketches In Afghaunistan in 1842. An accomplished artist, Atkinson provided visual details of the British invasion. He included a title page illustration of fierce mountain fighters firing upon the British.

Lady Elizabeth Butler, The Remnants of an Army.

All of these images helped me craft Last Dance In Kabul. Reeve Waterton and Sarah Kane, my protagonists, are products of imagination. The events unfolding around them, however, are based on accurate reconstructions by such noted historical writers and researchers as William Dalrymple, Patrick Macrory, and Diana Preston.  I've often wondered what the Soviets of the 1980s and the multi-national force now engaged in Afghanistan learned from earlier wars in the region.

James Atkinson, illustration from Sketches In Afghaunistan 

My debut novel, Beyond The River Of Shame, carried me to 19th century Africa and the search for the source of the Nile River. Sketches drawn by my real life character Samuel White Baker depicted his adventures with Florie, the young slave girl he saved from captivity and eventually married (although Queen Victoria shunned her). As with Last Dance, the visual images stirred my imagination.

I'm looking to art again as I write my third novel based on Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible's attempt to marry a relative of Queen Elizabeth. There's a locket and a voyage, murder and love. That search continues.


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Last Dance in Kabul! You can enter HERE!

Giveaway Rules

• Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
• Giveaway is open to US residents only.
• Only one entry per household.
• All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
• Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Dr. Ken Czech
Dr. Ken Czech is a retired history professor and an internationally recognized authority on the historical literature of exploration and sport. His passion, however, has turned to writing fiction. He and his wife Mary live in Central Minnesota on an abandoned granite quarry.

For more information, please visit Ken’s website. You can also find him on FacebookAmazon and Goodreads.


  1. I have to admit that I know nothing about this period in history. You have certainly piqued my interest. The paintings are fabulous, I can see why they inspired you.

  2. Thank you so much for hosting Ken's blog tour & guest post, Mary!

    HF Virtual Book Tours


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Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx