I brought you into a land of plenty,
    to enjoy its gifts and goodness,
        but you ruined my land;
        you disgraced my heritage.

—Jeremiah 2:7


They said it was impossible to build utopia, but Nico Valentin disdained what others thought possible. His whole life had been a rebellion against the role that had been cast for him — the victim, the outcast, the loser. He had seen what so many around him hadn't — that the age of the bronze-muscled warlord from the steppe was over, and the age of the idea-shaper had come.


"The mistake my great-grandparents made was in believing the Bolsheviks weren't Christians. 'So the first shall be last and the last shall be first'—Jesus prophesied it, but Lenin made it a reality...and how! So my grandparents fled here, to 'the land of the free' retrospect, we shouldn't have thought a country founded by Puritans was safe. But American religion is so much purer than anything crude Russians could devise. Lenin thought the dregs of society could be manipulated to build a better future; he didn't dream of worshipping the dregs of society merely because they were dregs. But Americans have faith—who needs a future?"