AN EPIC NOVEL SPANNING THE GLOBE AND THE GREATEST CENTURY

CHAPTER 1

Cupula Inferno

  The epitaph on the sarcophagus reads, “His Mountain of God Given Gifts Fueled a Lifetime Gilded by La Passion Pour la Vie.”

  The story begins at the Alexander Palace, in Southwestern England, about a day's carriage ride from London. The young six-year-old Prince Braxton had the entire palace staff, family, and guests in an uproar. The third son of Their Royal Highness' Prince Richard and Princess Mercedes had quite amazingly concocted a successful scheme to generate light and stench, the latter permeating most of this huge and commodious palace. An inferno with the characteristics of what would be a manure bonfire was ablaze indoors!

  The young prince thought it would be amusing to have the senses of all palace occupants awakened by the stimuli of the glowing light and acrid of dancing flames. He had not thought much about the outcome of his actions, as he was not accustomed to facing the consequences. The precocious young man was used to sliding in and out of trouble. He was equipped with charm, intelligence, good looks and a mind that absorbed, processed, and maximized everything with which it came into contact. Even at such a young age, he showed signs of being a visionary but, in 1866 a hyperactive child was labeled incorrigible at best. No one, especially the young prince, knew then what a visionary he truly was.

  On this one occasion, however, he did not anticipate that family and guests would be returning to their bedrooms just before the maids where to start lighting the morning fires. As was the custom, should you not be in your bedchamber before the fires were lit, reputations could be sullied. Maids related things they saw to the upper servants and–well−the upper servants confided in their mistresses.

  This early morning, the young prince's oldest brother Prince Dominic was leaving Lady Allison's chamber and, as he passed through the northeast second story promenade, was dazed by a 25-foot flame soaring in the middle of the intersect of the northeast and east promenades. Fortunately, the was roofed by a dome which rose a towering 45 feet.

  "What in the hell is that?" he anxiously whispered to himself intrigued, confused, and frightened.

As he ran towards the plume, he was suddenly unable to breathe as if choking on his own saliva. At first gagging softly, he stumbled a bit then began to convulse as the stench and smoke started to permeate his lungs. As Dominic neared the flame, he noticed his younger brother Prince John, in a peculiar embrace with another young man, Lord Ramsey. Dominic watched his brother exit the young lord's bedchamber. Though overcome with smoke and stench, Prince Dominic did his best to call out to his brother.

  “John! Help! Fire!” He called.

  For unexplainable reasons, the word "fire" seemed to echo throughout both promenades and into most every chamber as disoriented, partially dressed occupants stream into the walkways. Gasps stifled screams as the noxious odor, and smoke streamed throughout the passageways. Young Princess Diedre, only fourteen years of age, awakened some minutes earlier by the billowing stench, had worked her way down from the third story bedroom she shared with twelve-year-old sister, Princess Carmen.

  On the landing between the third and second floors, the Princess Diedre reached for the fire gong and, though she weighed little more than five stone, she wailed away, striking it with all her might. The sound emanating from the gong was not quite loud enough to alarm anyone, but it caught the attention of a maid as she descended from the fourth-floor female servants' quarters. Sally, the maid, ran up and stood against the princess then wrapped her arms around the young royal’s arms. She swaddled her hand around that of Princess Diedre so they could both beat the gong rhythmically and with more force, which created thunderous sounds throughout the palace. As they became aware of the situation at hand, occupants in the far reaches of the citadel instinctively located a gong near them and commenced to hammer away echoing the warning from Princess Diedre and Sally. Those inside and outside of the complex became fearfully and shockingly aware that a fire had broken out!

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© 2018 JR Strayve, Jr.

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An Epic for the Ages

About the Novel

This Epic novel follows a British aristocrat from birth in 1866 until his 100th birthday in 1966. As a young boy, he is surrounded by the rarefied world of his fictional royal family.  Prince Braxton is born at the family’s palatial country estate and grows up in the fabulous Renaissance House chateau in London.

Protagonist Prince Braxton is typical of classic 19th Century romance stories. He is brilliant, strikingly handsome, talented, and ambitious. At an early age, he travels Europe eventually creating a vast financial empire. Braxton’s wife is the Grand Duchess Valentina.

While in Imperial Russia, he develops mines and oil wells for the financially floundering Imperial family. He also acts as royal envoy for his father, the king, in the late 19th Century serving in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India while continuing to build an international rubber and shipping empire. He eventually ventures into Canada and the United States. Readers will be mesmerized as Braxton builds fame and fortune in London, Vienna, Venice, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Tokyo, Calcutta, San Francisco, Colorado, and New York. The novel follows an interesting cast of characters including Braxton’s mother, a Contessa who became a princess before being crowned Queen Mercedes.

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JR Strayve, Jr.

Meet the Author

The seeds of this novel started rumbling around in Strayve’s imagination decades ago. He says, “Whenever I read historical material, I find myself feeling like I am in the scene. Sometimes I have a running commentary going on in my brain, and sometimes my imagination changes events to reflect what I might have done had I actually been there.” Strayve has a bit of Author James Thurber’s daydreaming character Walter Mitty in him. As the father of three adult children and three grandchildren, creating stories for them was one of the best parts of parenting for this true creative.
Braxton’s Century came to life after Strayve suffered an accident in 2016 and was only able to work part-time as a financial planner for an extended period. Fatigued and weakened by illness, he passed out while working out at a gym where he regularly exercised. After the accident it took a few months to regain his strength, so he would go for long walks to exercise and refocus his thoughts. He says that during those walks in the inspiring beauty of San Diego where he lives, he reverted to the “daydreaming, window-gazing, wildly imaginative” days of his youth which gave birth to Prince Braxton.

Strayve’s favorite person history is Winston Churchill who was born in 1875. His familiarity with the time-period, vivid imagination, and literary license determined that Prince Braxton would be born in 1860. This Epic novel chronicles Prince Braxton’s life through and up until his 100th birthday. The character is brilliant, strikingly handsome, and lives a life robust with travel, wealth, intrigue, love, and loss. Early readers have compared Strayve’s storytelling to that of multiple bestselling author Ken Follett.

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