Triumph of a Tsar is an alternate historical rendering of the Russian Revolution in which the Romanovs survive and remain in power. The young Prince Alexei becomes Tsar and faces many challenges as he cements his control over Russia against seeming impossible odds. Not only does he have to prove he is capable of ruling, he has to survive assassination attempts, and his inherited hemophilia. The author seamlessly weaves the history of post-WW1 into the fabric of her fictional what if. The reader is taken on a roller coaster ride through the turmoil of the times, the economic collapse of the late 20’s; the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Party in Germany; the continuing threat from the determined Communists. It is a heady mix of true history and a very plausible alternative. The author also provides the reader with an in depth look at the intricate and widespread influence of family among the Romanovs and their relatives. This proves to be a great source of strength to the young Alexei and a troublesome burden come WW2. An entertaining, and very enjoyable example of history looked at from the ‘what if’ perspective. 4 Stars
Note: Historical Fiction Reviews received a copy of Triumph of a Tsar in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
“Triumph of a Tsar” is Tamar’s second novel. She has a history of writing about the Romanovs. Her first book, the nonfiction biography entitled “The Russian Riddle,” was the first biography of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. In addition, two of her short stories about the Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich and his sons have been published: “Rumors of War” was published in The Copperfield Review in 2017 and “Before the Fire” was published in The Helix in 2018.
Tamar’s other works are not about the Romanovs. Her first novel, “The Last Battle,” was published in 2017. Her short story “Dark Night, Bright Sky,” was published in The Sandy River Review in 2018.
I read a lot of fiction, mostly historical-fiction, but also some fantasy/historical-fiction; fiction that takes on the feel of history, events that could have happened, cultures and people that could have existed. Such is Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay; a work that has the look and feel of a Roman/Byzantine world, but that also carries a look at contemporary issues such as religion and it’s hold on humanity through the ages. An excellent example of this can be found in a discussion between an architect and the Patriarch concerning the proposed ideas for the dome of a new sanctuary, “Deference becomes you,” said Artibasos, mildly enough. “It might be worth cultivating. It is customary – except perhaps among clerics – to have opinions preceded by knowledge.” I don’t know about you, my peeps and fellow travelers, but that speaks volumes to current affairs in 2018 America, if not the world.
I read a lot of different authors; a lot of different writing styles and strengths, some who move me with their descriptive abilities, others with the depth of their characters, or their grasp of fine dialogue. What I have found in my reading of Mr. Kay is an author who moves me with all of those things, but especially the beauty of his narrative; his “way with words”. I cannot begin to count the number of times I would read a passage, pause, reread, and then pause again to allow the flow of words to both fill me with wonder, and with just a smidgen of jealousy (I too, fancy myself as an author).
Sailing to Sarantium is a complex tale, filled with surprises; with the full range of human emotion, and human experiences – emotions and experiences that can be carried over to modern times – a time of wonder, but also a time of uncertainty. I can hardly wait to read the sequel. 5 Stars – BTW the chariot race chapter is worth the price of admission. 🙂
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the entire Roma Nova series, I eagerly opened up the new installment, Carina. This installment takes place between the first two books of the series and finds Carina tasked to apprehend an alleged traitor in Quebec and return her to Roma Nova. A straightforward task for a member of the elite Praetorian officer corps. However, things turn out to be a bit more complicated and she is plunged into a web of deception and intrigue. The author has given the reader another gem of a tale with her usual fast paced style, believable scenarios and the real sensation that Roma Nova could exist in the modern world. When I started reading Carina, it was with the thought that I would take my time with this novella, as I was also reading a couple of other books that had review deadlines looming. Hah! I was so engrossed and taken in by Alison’s skillful creative abilities, that I finished Carina in two sittings. So, dear readers, help yourself to another 5 Star entry to the Roma Novan catalog.
Let me just state from the get-go…I fancy myself as an author given that I have written and published a novel (with more to come) but when I read someone like Guy Gavriel Kay, I ache to have just a little of his talent; just a little more ability to draw word pictures in his manner. Lions is a complex story of love, loyalty, and devotion during a period of great upheaval; a period reminiscent of the Moorish-Christian competition to see whose God is best(sadly, still going on.) If I get anything out of reading this tale it is this, that the genocidal insanity of religious domination in political affairs is quite possibly the saddest concept in human history.
Another aspect of Lions is the almost impossible situations some of the characters find themselves in; especially when it comes to love and loyalty…so many lines are crossed and in such a way that the differences between Jaddite-Asharite-Kindath pale in significance to the individuals involved. The Kindath physician Jehane, the poet/warrior Ammar, the Jaddite warrior Rodrigo and many others, provide the reader with characters so fully developed as to make the story seem historical rather than a fantasy account.
So, my peeps and fellow travelers, prepare for an emotion filled, heart tugging tale from a master at his craft. 5 stars…or maybe two moons…or maybe just the Sun..read the book, you’ll get what I mean. 🙂
A vile almost inhuman character; a combination of Augustus’s intelligence and the brutal madness of Caligula has overthrown the legal government of Roma Nova and replaced it with a distinctly male dominated presence. Forced to flee for their lives, many of the Roma Novans; including the indomitable Aurelia and the young Imperatrix, Silvia, begin the long, slow process of reclaiming their homeland. Throughout this alternative history series I have been fascinated by the author’s ability to conjure up a world that is recognizable and totally believable, and she has done so once again. Not only are the political, and logistical nuances covered in a thorough, convincing manner, the portrayal of the internal conflicts and emotions of the characters had this humble scribe stopping occasionally to catch his breath. It is safe to say that Retalio is an excellent addition to this remarkable history of Roma Nova. The villain, Caius Tellus, as well as ranking high on my favorite fictional bad guys list, bears a certain resemblance to the current occupant of the White House, at least to me. An unintentional resemblance, I’m sure, but prescient nonetheless. A page turning delight (with the above mentioned pauses for breath taking), a heart racing tale of intrigue and courage. 5 stars
I think that one day I am going to have to compile my list of favorite, fictional, evil people. When I do that Alison Morton’s Caius Tellus will certainly be on that list. Insurrectio is a taut drama centering on Tellus’ political ambitions…ambitions that could undo centuries of a stable form of government and supplant it with Tellus as a tyrant. Caught in the crosshairs of his ambition is Aurelia Mitela and hoo-boy does he ever hold a grudge. The story is full of the drama and tension that the author has made a trademark of the Roma Nova series and in spots steps them up even more. So, if you’re looking for a political thriller this is sure to please. Strong characters, a plot with lots of twists and turns, love, betrayal, pain and loss make this a 5 star winner.
When I am offered the chance to read and review a book it is usually of a different historical-fiction genre than this particular work. I read mostly ancient Greek, Roman, etc and also a fair smattering of medieval works dealing with The Crusades or post-Roman Britain. All of those categories are stories that do not take place anywhere near the U.S. where I live, so when given an opportunity to latch onto a work of historical-fiction pertaining to the history of my country, I gleefully grab on, even if, as in this case, it is an alternate history. The year is 1839, the American Revolution had ended in the defeat of the rebels and the landscape is vastly different. Britain, the victors now claim the entire eastern seaboard out to the Mississippi. From the Mississippi to the Rockies is French; from the Rockies to the Pacific is Spanish. This story involves three young friends, Claire, Phileas and Sam who grew up together in New France and who undertake a dangerous journey to track down some vicious killers. The culture they grow up in includes many facets of the unexplainable, paranormal world and one of the friends harbors a terrible family curse and survives a brutal murder attempt on his life by a group of fanatics bent on ridding the world of any who have the same affliction.
The world the author creates is imaginative and is one that it is a believable consequence of Britain defeating the colonial rebellion. It is also imaginative in it’s use of the paranormal. Claire’s ability to influence people plays an important part in the adventure the three friends embark on. The characters, both the good guys and the bad guys, are wonderfully portrayed, the descriptions of the cultures, the landscape, the towns and countryside are delivered in a way that puts the reader in the midst of them. There is plenty of drama, plot twists, and action. I found it to be a refreshing look at a time in history that might have been and I look forward to more from the author. 4 stars and a hearty Hoover Book Reviews recommendation.
About the author:
Born and raised in Appalachia, AshleyRose Sullivan has a BS in Anthropology and an MFA in Creative Writing. She lives, writes and paints in Los Angeles with her husband and their many imaginary friends.
AshleyRose has moved 35 times. She’s been the oldest, the youngest, the middle and the only child. She has worked as a taxidermist’s assistant, a milkmaid, and a story time lady. She’s a power-lifter, a left-handed artist, and a right-handed knitter. Her library is organized by color.