Proud Nation

The House of Sand and Fog

As part of the course I took in professional writing we studied the film “The house of sand and fog” a film by Vadim Perelman which featured Sir Ben Kingsley as Colonel Massoud Amir Behrani, an Iranian political refugee living the United States. Even though he was a high-ranking army officer in Iran, Massoud was working several menial jobs in order to provide his wife, Nadi (Shohreh Aghdashloo), and his son, Esmail (Jonathan Ahdout) with an acceptable standard of living.


The members of my course were almost equally divided between an admiration for the creativity of the acting and the brilliance of the direction .

In contrast there was a third opinion that the story, one of great tragedy, in which Massoud, his son and his wife all died, was fundamentally flawed in that the succession of events leading to the tragedy was unbelievable. They were of the opinion that no group of people could behave as illogically as was depicted in the film.

Personally I found it difficult to be objective because of a crisis of conscience. In 1973 I had met and befriended a senior Iranian official, and I had no idea what had happened to him during the revolution of !979. What is worse is that it had never crossed my mind to be concerned.

A Blessing and a Curse

01-trade-routes In 1975 I was the Engineering Manager of a heat treatment company selling equipment to both Iran and Iraq for the hardening of artillery shells. If we thought about it at all it was that we were assisting allies prepare to resist a potential soviet invasion.

My Iranian contact looked and spoke as though he had been born in Sussex, but he was a very proud Iranian. His name was hardly iranian, Maurice Lyon. his father had been english executive with an oil company who had been instrumental in setting up the government controls on the oil industry. Apparently his name was fortuitous as the symbol and flag of the Persian state at that time was the Lion and the Sun.

He told me that Persia, and he always preferred to use that name, had been been given the name Iran in deference to the wishes of Adolf Hitler, as Hitler believed that the Persian people were the origins of his “Aryan” race.

I was told that Persia’s blessing and subsequent curse was that it sat across the rich trading routes linking the east and the west. These goods travelling along these routes generated great wealth but also great jelousy.

War with Egypt

02-persian-empire They were one of the root causes of Persian expansionism and the persian determination to rule Egypt can be attributed to a desire to exert firmer control of the spice route to add to it’s domination of the more northerly silk road.

Northern Routes

03-the-northern-route There were also determined efforts to expand further north as a northerly branch of the silk rd by passed Persian territory,feeding Northern Europe via the Viking routes along the Volga. there was also a branch across the northern Black Sea and along the dniester/vistula and Danube rivers.

The ill fated attempt by Persia to invade Greece was probably in part an attempt to grab control of these routes.
Alexander the great stepped in to take advantage of the situation and grab control for himself. however alexanders conquest had little impact on the Persian people they became alexanders subjects and provided the experience administrators who stabilised Alexander’s empire.

Royal Road

07-cities-of-the-royal-road Alexander’s task in invading Persia was made easier by the “Royal Rd”
This road was well paved and ran from Sardis to Persopolis facilitating the trasport of precious goods and troops from one end of the empire to the other. another feature of the road was that there were a string of signalling posts all within sight of each other, enabling messages to be sent from Persopolis to Sardis in less than a day

Ancient Wonder

08-persopolis-view Persopolis was one of the wonders of the ancient world and the palace housed a library reputed to contain the extensive learning of the Persian civilisation.

The Palace Burns

09-burning-of-persopolis-tom-lovell For reason’s which have never been understood Alexander burned Persopolis. The blame was put on Thais, an athenian woman who was travelling with Alexander, who later married Ptolemy 1st of Egypt,one of Alexander’s generals. The theory is that Thais incited Alexanders companion’s to set fire to Persopolis in revenge for the persian attacks on Athens. However an alternative theory is that Alexander was overawed,or even frightened by some of the information he found in the library and made a deliberate decision it should be destroyed.

Persian Domination

06-struggle-for-control-3 Under the rule of Alexander and his generals, Persia for a short period totally controlled the trade routes. but interal bickering led to fragmentation and vulnerability.
Rome too wanted to gain control of the trade routes.

Conflict with Rome

04-struggle-for-control-2 The conflict with Rome lasted 700 years and Rome suffered many serious defeats at the hands of the Persian’s. According to maurice it was during this lengthy period that Persia’ reputation and standing was continually denegrated by the Roman’s, in contrast to the adulation given to Greece and Egypt. It was as if the persian civilisation had never existed. Because the inflence of rome streches through to the present day, much of the western world’s thinking still ignores Persia’s heritage and the contribution made to civilisation.


05-roman-silk-rd The Romans took control of the western end of both the the spice route in Egypt and the silk rd on the mediterranean coast. A decision was made to by-pass the western end of the royal road and to transport directly to rome from Caesarae Rome and redistribute from there. Thus rome grew rich whilst other communities were deprived of their livelyhood. The concentration of wealth in what is now Northern Israel lay the seeds of the never ending middle eastern conflict. Rome and Persia fought until they were both exhausted leaving themselves both vulnerable to attack by the Arabs whose reason for expansion was also to get control of the trade routes.


06-iran-ethnic-map Today what we call Iran has many different races, many different languages and many different religions within its borders. Despite the long series of conquests and this diversity the persian peoples retained a sense of identity nevertheless.

The discovery of oil gave the state a new found importance and Maurice was proud of the progress being made to establish a liberal minded, forward looking state. in all these discussions he clearly identified himself as iranian, the successor to a proud tradition. However by 1976 he did have some concerns.

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History


Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355


'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.