Nineteen Thirty-Five, Soviet Russia. Josef Dobrov is only a soldier and wants it to stay that way, to be someone nobody notices. Some of his friends have been noticed and it did not end well for them. One of them is on the train of gulag-bound prisoners he is guarding. Not his affair, says Josef. He has no intention of getting into trouble. But high in the Urals, fate throws the young soldier into not only trouble but an whole new world, a world of savagery and beauty, danger and wonder. A world he adopts as his own, only to find it besieged by forces from without, and the woman he loves endangered and ensorcelled by those forces. Can he and the ancient and powerful sorcerer, Hurasu, stop them? Jokingly named ‘Tsar’ by his fellows, Josef becomes a man willing to step forward at last, to be seen as leader, as hero, in Tsar of the Empty Lands, a fantasy novel by Stephen Brooke.