War, no matter the countries or people involved, is always bad. There are always those among the troops on both sides having wicked hearts and use the excuse of a weapon in their hands to do the evil in their hearts. Then there are those that don't want to kill anyone, "enemy" or not but are unwillingly compelled to do their duty.
Like many other books about a war, this one focuses on a handful of characters and how the war impacted them on a personal level. It tells of honest patriotism, betrayal, corruption, love, jealousy and hate-- basic human emotions that everyone in the world feels. Though Maid of Baikal is speculative fiction, many of the characters did indeed exist (photos of them included in book). The Maid, however, is fictional. The book spins a tale, asking what if Russia had had its own Joan of Arc during the Russian Revolution and would the outcome have been different? The Maid of Baikal, or Zhanna Stepanovna Dorokhina fulfills that role. She is just a young schoolgirl from a rural northern outpost in Siberia while at prayer hears a voice that tells her she has a mission to save her country and people from the cruel tyranny of the Bolsheviks. As days go by, angels and saints appear to her, guiding her and revealing more of her destiny and telling her of things that have happened that she could not possibly know otherwise. More and more people are convinced and she develops a following and troops of demoralized, disappointed soldiers are given hope by her message. After numerous victories liberating towns that amaze the military hierarchy, tragedy develops.
Maid of Baikal is a fine drama portraying those with pure hearts wanting only good for others, and those who have hidden agendas for their own careers, and willing to stoop to any evil deed to further that as well as protect the corruption they are involved in. It recounts the involvement of foreign nations bankrolling the war (Bolshevik and the White troops as well), with the aim being solely economic.
Maybe I am much too an emotional person, but chapter 22 and into 23 had me weeping. Such betrayal! Such deceit! The author included a playlist (one song for each chapter) which I downloaded and listened to while reading the book to gain the full experience the author wished to impart. That in itself was a minor education (in a small way) of Russian classical music and composers. I did enjoy the book very much, and wish to thank the author for a copy of it in exchange for an honest review-- thank you!