The cover for The Grand Mirage, which blends two images from the services used by Pedernales Publishing, perfectly captures the spirit of the book – exotic, adventurous, mysterious.
The title itself comes from the musings of the hero, Lord Leighton, as he crosses the Syrian desert with a merchant caravan. Amid the heat and the dust, he reflects that Europe’s effort to contain the Orient in its civilizing embrace is futile, and leaves the Great Powers grasping at a mirage that eludes them.
The etching of Baghdad, showing the pontoon bridge that features in the narrative, awakens subconscious memories of a thousand and one nights. Though it has fallen on hard times when the action of the novel takes place, it remains a symbol of a lost civilization. Baghdad is the destination of the railway that the Germans want to build with the Turks, and so the goal Leighton needs to reach as well, but the bulk of the novel’s action takes place in Constantinople, the storied capital of two empires.