Forge, Feb 2005, 24.95, 352 pp.
In late 1852 or early 1853 depending on which calendar you use, Tsar Nicholas hosts a Christmas gala in which he invites Mikhail Sankov, but the ailing poet is unable to attend. Instead his daughter, also a poet, Sonja Sankova, goes escorted by her father's friend mathematician Arkady Migalkin.
At the party, Peter “Colonel Cut” Koslov, head of the vicious wolfpack, decides that the pretty waif Sonja would make an ideal addition to his “collection”. He woos her by boasting about his powers that include cutting off the testicles and ears of peasants. Sonja punches Peter, knocking him to the floor. She flees as he vows to cut off her ears.
Sonja, garbed as a boy, takes her father towards the Urals so he can die in his birthplace while Koslov follows having already mutilated and killed Arkady. At the same time American photographer Jack Sandt tours Russia with the lofty goal of making pictures of the various races he meets. When he and Sonja meet, they fall in love, but first she must complete her father's final mission of being buried in his birthplace and than there is Colonel Cut who will not rest until he retaliates for his humiliation.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner