Plot introduction[ edit ] Hannay is called in to investigate rumours of an uprising in the Muslim world, and undertakes a perilous journey through enemy territory to meet his friend Sandy in Constantinople. Plot summary[ edit ] The book opens in November , with Hannay and his friend Sandy convalescing from wounds received at the Battle of Loos. Bullivant briefs Hannay on the political situation in the Middle East, suggesting that the Germans and their Turkish allies are plotting to create a Muslim uprising, that will throw the Middle East, India and North Africa into turmoil. Bullivant proposes that Hannay investigate the rumours, following a clue left on a slip of paper with the words "Kasredin", "cancer" and "v. Despite misgivings, Hannay accepts the challenge, and picks Sandy to help him. Bullivant says that American John Blenkiron will be useful.
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Plot introduction[ edit ] Hannay is called in to investigate rumours of an uprising in the Muslim world, and undertakes a perilous journey through enemy territory to meet his friend Sandy in Constantinople. Plot summary[ edit ] The book opens in November , with Hannay and his friend Sandy convalescing from wounds received at the Battle of Loos. Bullivant briefs Hannay on the political situation in the Middle East, suggesting that the Germans and their Turkish allies are plotting to create a Muslim uprising, that will throw the Middle East, India and North Africa into turmoil.
Bullivant proposes that Hannay investigate the rumours, following a clue left on a slip of paper with the words "Kasredin", "cancer" and "v. Despite misgivings, Hannay accepts the challenge, and picks Sandy to help him. Bullivant says that American John Blenkiron will be useful. The three meet, ponder their clues, and head to Constantinople.
Starting on 17 November, they plan to meet at a hostelry exactly two months later, going each by his own route - Blenkiron travelling through Germany as an observer, Sandy travelling through Asia Minor, using his Arab contacts, and Hannay goes to neutral Lisbon under a Boer guise. There, he meets by chance an old comrade, Boer Peter Pienaar , and the two, posing as anti-British exiles itching to fight for the Germans, are recruited by a German agent.
They enter Germany via the Netherlands. Hannay has several more adventures, meeting famed mining engineer Herr Gaudian who later reappears in The Three Hostages , hears of the mysterious Hilda von Einem , and meets the Kaiser.
Finding Stumm plans to send him to Egypt via London, Hannay flees into the snowbound countryside, tracked by the vengeful colonel. He falls ill with malaria and is sheltered during Christmas by a poor woman in a lonely cottage. On his sickbed, he realises that the clue "v. I" on the piece of paper may refer to von Einem, the name he overheard. Recuperated, he carries on, travelling by barge carrying armaments down the Danube, picking up with Peter Pienaar, who has escaped from a German prison, along the way.
They reach Rustchuk on 10 January, with a week to go before the rendezvous in Constantinople. On arrival, Hannay has a run-in with Rasta Bey, an important Young Turk , and intercepts a telegram showing his trail has been detected.
They travel by train, fending off an attempt to stop them by the angry Rasta Bey, and reach Constantinople with half a day to spare. They seek out the meeting place, and are attacked by Bey and an angry mob, but rescued by a band of mysterious, wild dancing men, whom they then antagonise. Next day they return to the rendezvous, an illicit dance-room, where they find the main entertainment is none other than the wild men of the previous day.
At the climax of the performance, soldiers of the Ottoman Minister of War Enver , arrive and drag Hannay and Peter away, apparently to prison, but they instead are delivered to a cozy room containing Blenkiron and the leader of the dancers - none other than the miraculous Sandy Arbuthnot. They pool their news - Sandy has identified "Kasredin" from their clue sheet as the title of an ancient Turkish allegorical story, the hero of which is a religious leader called Greenmantle, and has heard much of a prophet known as "the Emerald", associated with the play.
Blenkiron has met and been impressed by Hilda von Einem, who is in Constantinople and owns the house in which they are staying. Blenkiron provides Hannay with a new identity, an American engineer named Hannau, and they attend a dinner party where they meet Herr Gaudian again, and Enver.
Hannay encounters von Einem, and is fascinated by her; later, he is recognised by Rasta Bey, and has just knocked him out and hidden him in a cupboard when von Einem arrives.
Hannay impresses her, and hears she plans to take him East with her. Sandy visits, agrees to deal with the captive Turk and provides news of his own - the clue "Cancer" means the prophet Greenmantle has the disease and is on his deathbed. Blenkiron joins them, and tells them that fighting has become heated between the Russians and the Turks, and they deduce that they will be taken toward Erzerum to help with its defence.
On the long road to Erzerum, they crash their car, and spend the night in a barn, where Hannay has a vivid dream of a hill with a saucepan-like indent in the top. They travel on worn-out horses, but seeing a new car by the roadside, they steal it, only to find it belongs to Rasta Bey.
They make good speed, but on arrival in Erzerum, they are delivered straight to Stumm, who recognises Hannay and has them arrested. With the battle of Erzurum booming in the background, they realise the importance of the stolen plans, and Peter Pienaar volunteers to sneak through the battle lines and deliver them to the Russians.
Sandy appears, magnificently dressed, and reveals that Greenmantle is dead and that he has been chosen to impersonate him. Pienaar has an eventful and terrifying journey across the battlefield, and Hannay and Blenkiron hide in a cellar.
On the third day, they break cover, and make for safety in a wild horse ride, closely pursued by their enemies. Hilda von Einem arrives, and appeals to them to give up, but they refuse; she is shocked to learn Sandy is a British officer, and as she leaves, she is slain by a stray Russian shell.
Stumm arrives with artillery, and their position looks sure to be destroyed and overrun, but Stumm waits till dawn to savour his revenge. Just in time, the Russians, helped by the plans delivered by Pienaar, break through the defences and sweep towards the town.
She is a femme fatale who masterminds a plot to stir up a Muslim jihad against the Allies. She has been described as a "glamorous but merciless female agent"  and a "pale-blue-eyed northern goddess". The book has been adapted for broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
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To Caroline Grosvenor During the past year, in the intervals of an active life, I have amused myself with constructing this tale. It has been scribbled in every kind of odd place and moment—in England and abroad, during long journeys, in half-hours between graver tasks; and it bears, I fear, the mark of its gipsy begetting. But it has amused me to write, and I shall be well repaid if it amuses you—and a few others—to read. Let no man or woman call its events improbable.
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