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Publisher's Summary

For listeners of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir comes a dramatic novel of the beloved Empress Maria, the Danish girl who became the mother of the last Russian tsar.

Even from behind the throne, a woman can rule.

Narrated by the mother of Russia’s last tsar, this vivid, historically authentic novel brings to life the courageous story of Maria Feodorovna, one of Imperial Russia’s most compelling women, who witnessed the splendor and tragic downfall of the Romanovs as she fought to save her dynasty in its final years.

Barely 19, Minnie knows that her station in life as a Danish princess is to leave her family and enter into a royal marriage - as her older sister, Alix, has done, moving to England to wed Queen Victoria’s eldest son. The winds of fortune bring Minnie to Russia, where she marries the Romanov heir, Alexander, and once he ascends the throne, becomes empress. When resistance to his reign strikes at the heart of her family and the tsar sets out to crush all who oppose him, Minnie - now called Maria - must tread a perilous path of compromise in a country she has come to love.  

Her husband’s death leaves their son, Nicholas, as the inexperienced ruler of a deeply divided and crumbling empire. Determined to guide him to reforms that will bring Russia into the modern age, Maria faces implacable opposition from Nicholas’s strong-willed wife, Alexandra, whose fervor has led her into a disturbing relationship with a mystic named Rasputin. As the unstoppable wave of revolution rises anew to engulf Russia, Maria will face her most dangerous challenge and her greatest heartache.

From the opulent palaces of St. Petersburg and the intrigue-laced salons of the aristocracy to the World War I battlefields and the bloodied countryside occupied by the Bolsheviks, C. W. Gortner sweeps us into the anarchic fall of an empire and the complex, bold heart of the woman who tried to save it.

©2018 C. W. Gortner (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“A lost age and a woman for the ages come to life in this epic tale. Gortner skillfully opens a window into the life of a woman who is both complex and entirely human, and sets the stage for the violent end of the Russian empire. Captivating and beautifully told, this story is a gem as rich as the opulent era it depicts.” (Lisa Wingate, New York Times best-selling author of Before We Were Yours)

“A sweeping saga that takes us from the opulence and glamour of tsarist Russia to the violent, tragic last days of the Romanovs. Brave and inspiring, Maria Feodorovna confronts assassinations, the Rasputin affair, and the Russian revolution. C. W. Gortner breaks new ground here, skillfully painting an intimate, compelling portrait of this fascinating empress and her family.” (Stephanie Dray, New York Times best-selling coauthor of America’s First Daughter)

The Romanov Empress has all the glitter and mystery of a Fabergé egg. The waning days of a doomed dynasty are recounted by the vivacious but tough Danish princess who would become one of Russia’s most revered tsarinas, only to see her line end in war and revolution. Gortner pens a beautiful tribute to a lost world, weaving a tale as sumptuous as a Russian sable.” (Kate Quinn, New York Times best-selling author of The Alice Network)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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One of C.W. Gortner Best!!

I am big Fan of C.W. Gortner, historical fiction. I have always been interested Russian history, and the revolution. So for me this was the best of both. I got C.W. Gortner writing and Russian history in one great book. I have learned a lot from this book, and it is definitely worth buying.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Pure Excellence!

C.W. Gortner never disappoints. 5 STARS! His character driven novels are deeply satisfying. This book is engaging, compelling, riveting, and rife with wonderful historical detail. Narrator Katharine McEwan is perfection. I’ve never heard her narrate before but will look out for her books. One of the BEST narrators I’ve come across - and I listen to A LOT of Audible books. Bravos all around. Highly Recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Excellent!

This is excellent in all areas. I loved listening and the reader was excellent. The history was intriguing and I found myself researching the Romanov family. It was interesting to look at the pictures of the real people that I was reading (listening) about. I didnt realize how Tsarina Alexandra was so instrumental in causing the hatred displayed toward the family. What a sad story that unfortunately isnt fiction. Well worth the credit.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating history

I love this book! It brought to life a topic of history that I was so unfamiliar with. I didn’t realize how much I was learning listening to this book because I was so wrapped up in the story. This book has it all for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Another great story from Gortner

Another fabulous read by CW Gortner he once again brings the royals to life, I love that he writes about ones you don’t normally hear about and I really enjoyed learning more about the Empress “Minnie”.
Gortner does not hold back with his feelings for Tsaritsa Alexandra as Minnie is her mother in law they did not get a long at all and Gortner truly makes us feel what Minnie does. This was a different look at the last Tsar, his upbringing and how marrying Alexandra changed the landscape of Russia. Also more about his brothers and sisters than I knew before.

I found Minnie fascinating she really was a great Empress and I feel way ahead of her time if her son would have listened to her who knows how things may have worked out?

Katharine McEwan’s narration was great and she played the emotions very very well!

I have always been fascinated by Russian history so this book grabbed me right away and the 17 hour audiobook flew by and all of a sudden its 1916 and things are going downhill fast! Even though you know how things happen there are still surprises and palace intrigue to keep you interested.

If you are a fan of the Romanovs or historical fiction in general give this one a go you won’t be disappointed!

5 Stars

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathy
  • NEW YORK, NY, United States
  • 07-24-18

Why did this saga have to end?

This audible had a short slow beginning but when it took off, there was never a lull in the story. I will be looking for more historical fiction by this author. Fascinating history with excellent characterizations. I especially thought Katharine McEwan brought the story to vivid life. We audible fans all know that the narrator makes the book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Captivating from beginning to end!

Excellent narration and captivating writing! But disappointed that the Afterward was not included on audio.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Overall a good listen

However it was slow at times, especially when the character was spitting out names upon names. It made it hard to follow and didn’t really add to the story. I get that the author was trying to stay true to historical events, but all the name dropping was too much.

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Riveting Historical Novel

Great character development; intriguing plot;beautifully written descriptions. I would recommend this book to book clubs and anyone interested in Russian history.

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Inside the mind of an empress

The world of common people is far from the world of royalty. Royalty collapses when the two worlds collide and royalty pays the price. The author has done a brilliant job of bringing us into the lives of royalty but I can’t avoid the disgust I feel when contrasting this with my knowledge of the impoverished state of the common people. The author has succeeded so well in arousing sympathy for the ultimate fate of the royals and for the empress, throughout the story, that I almost suppress the joy which I want to feel, when they finally get their just deserts.when the fall into the hands of the Bolsheviks. Her sympathetic portrayal of the empress as a kind, motherly lady doesn’t manage to disguise her autocratic tendencies. I think that herein lies the brilliance of the author; every word of the story rings true and I feel grateful to the author for giving us such a beautiful story. It’s beauty lies in it’s truth, even though I’m aware that most of the story is the author’s imagination.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-29-18

A little drawn out

Amazing story - I would ready other books by this author now - I enjoyed the performance but it was a bit slow at times