And we now have the introduction of the Russian ambassador to the Austrians, Bilibin. (Who I’ve now given his own strand on the MindMap, because from memory, I think he pops up a bit in the future – it’s hard to remember sometimes.)
Bilibin’s character doesn’t contribute much to the overall story, but he does give us the bird’s eye view of all the politics and what is going on. Now we understand the reason for Andrei’s cold reception by the Austrians. After weeks of losing, who wants to hear that it was the Russians that got the first victory? Especially one that cost an Austrian general?
And, in a particularly unpleasant twist (at least for a Russian), the Austrians are so sick of losing, that they’re planning to make a secret peace treaty with the French to stop the fighting – meaning they pulled Russia into the war, and are now leaving them to their own devices.
It seems that Andrei, in his efforts to escape the shallowness and artificiality of the Russian aristocracy, has found a whole new layer of this floating around in the crown heads of Russia . . .