What do you do when the person you have loved in secret since your schooldays finds happiness with another, leaving your heart bereft and your future a bleak, lonely prospect? For Harry Smythe-Vane, junior officer serving in the British army at the end of the failed campaign to rescue Gordon of Khartoum from the Mahdist siege of 1885, finding childhood friends Richard and Edward united in love spells the end of a dream he knows was doomed from the start—more so, a dream condemned by society at large: the love of two men for each other.
Harry must now pluck up the courage to pursue an uncertain quest for an elusive new soulmate—his great trek to attain fulfillment. From dangerous missions on India’s wild North-West Frontier to the deserts of Sudan, Harry forges a career and experiences fleeting friendships, but when a spell of leave takes him to London his heart is struck. He meets his almost-forgotten godson Jolyon Langrish-Smith, a troubled teenager in Oscar Wilde’s louche circle. It’s an encounter that pitches Harry headlong on a turbulent journey of emotional involvement.
Painting a vivid panorama of the British Empire at its height, Harry’s Great Trek is an epic saga of love and war—alive with an engaging cast of the humble and the famous—which climaxes amid the carnage of the Boer War. There Harry’s future is decided as one quest ends and a new journey begins…
Published February 2015, paperback and ebook, 498 pages
Praise for Harry's Great Trek
The story features several well-known people, such as Baden-Powell, Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill and Rudyard Kipling. For me the most fascinating famous character was Winston Churchill. Of course the Churchill we think of is the Prime Minister during WWII who looks like a bulldog but this is a much earlier war and a much more handsome Winston. Young Winston is an appealing chap. Harry thought so. No spoilers here, you need to read the book to see what happened when Harry propositioned young Winston. At 498 pages and 182,000 words makes Harry’s Great Trek is indeed a long one. But if you can lift this mammoth tome you’ll love reading it.
Preston – Goodreads
Harry’s Great Trek isn’t just a story about the love of two men in a time when it was forbidden but a story about friendship, duty and sacrifice. It took me to places I’d never be able to go except in my mind and Kean’s narrative paints a vivid picture that makes it easy to imagine being there. I laughed, I cried, I cringed and I was put through a whole gamut of emotions with this story. It’s a long story close to 500 pages but every wordmakes it what it is: a wonderful adventure and a beautiful love story.
Monika – Goodreads
Roger Kean writes like the rest of us breath – effortlessly.
Author Sunmer Michaels
One of the most grievously overlooked genres in GBLT fiction is ‘the gay adventure story’. That is not to say there are none. There are – and good ones, too – but they are few and far between. One of the best writers in this genre is Roger Kean, and Harry’s Great Trek is proof positive of this estimation. The introduction of certain celebrities of the day – especially young Winston Churchill – added a whole new dimension to the already interesting historical events. There are also some who also say that Baden-Powell had interest in boys beyond scouting, and so these characters can add wonderful fodder to a story. The writing is, of course, top notch.
Author Gerry Burnie
You know a book's good when you have to force yourself to stop reading before bed so you can get some sleep, and then you can't wait until bed to read some more. Let's face it, Roger Kean is not only the best writer of gay fiction, but one of the best writers PERIOD. Someday there better be a statue of him next to a library somewhere, or society will have missed its mark!
scavola – Goodreads (gay men's G/G Group)
The concluding novel in the "Empire" series, featuring forbidden love in the Victorian British Empire