The Romanov Prophecy

( 152 )

Overview

Ekaterinburg, Russia: July 16, 1918. Ten months have passed since Nicholas II’s reign was cut short by revolutionaries. Tonight, the White Army advances on the town where the Tsar and his family are being held captive by the Bolsheviks. Nicholas dares to hope for salvation. Instead, the Romanovs are coldly and methodically executed.

Moscow: Present Day. Atlanta lawyer Miles Lord, fluent in Russian and well versed in the country’s history, is thrilled to be in Moscow on the eve ...

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Overview

Ekaterinburg, Russia: July 16, 1918. Ten months have passed since Nicholas II’s reign was cut short by revolutionaries. Tonight, the White Army advances on the town where the Tsar and his family are being held captive by the Bolsheviks. Nicholas dares to hope for salvation. Instead, the Romanovs are coldly and methodically executed.

Moscow: Present Day. Atlanta lawyer Miles Lord, fluent in Russian and well versed in the country’s history, is thrilled to be in Moscow on the eve of such a momentous event. After the fall of Communism and a succession of weak governments, the Russian people have voted to bring back the monarchy. The new tsar will be chosen from the distant relatives of Nicholas II by a specially appointed commission, and Miles’ job is to perform a background check on the Tsarist candidate favored by a powerful group of Western businessmen. But research quickly becomes the least of Miles’ concerns when he is nearly killed by gunmen on a city plaza.

Suddenly Miles is racing across continents, shadowed by nefarious henchmen. At first, his only question is why people are pursuing him. But after a strange conversation with a mysterious Russian, who steers Miles toward the writings of Rasputin, he becomes desperate to know more–most important, what really happened to the family of Russia’s last tsar?

His only companion is Akilina Petrov, a Russian circus performer sympathetic to his struggle, and his only guide is a cryptic message from Rasputin that implies that the bloody night of so long ago is not the last chapter in the Romanovs’ story . . . and that someone might even have survived the massacre. The prophecy’s implications are earth-shattering–not only for the future of the tsar and mother Russia, but also for Miles himself.

Steve Berry, national bestselling author of the phenomenal thriller The Amber Room, once again delves into rich historical fact to produce an explosive page-turner. In The Romanov Prophecy, the authentic and the speculative meld into a fascinating and exceptionally suspenseful work of fiction.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With this second Russian suspense novel, which focuses on the restoration of the Romanov dynasty, Berry shows he's honed his craft since his somewhat shaky debut, The Amber Room (2003). Miles Lord, a workaholic African-American lawyer from Atlanta, is in Moscow to help Stefan Baklanov, the Romanov claimant his high-powered firm is backing. Since the new tsar will reign as an autocrat like his ancestors, both big rubles and big bucks are at stake not to mention access to nuclear weapons. Lord soon discerns that Baklanov is corrupt, a tool of the mafiya. While digging through old files on the Russian Revolution, Lord comes to believe Baklanov is the "raven" Rasputin predicted would help save the royal house in 1916. Teaming with a beautiful acrobat, Akilina Petrov of the Moscow Circus, Lord attempts to discover whether any children of Nicholas II escaped Lenin's executioners. A series of exotic clues propel the pair on an international scavenger hunt. Berry uses Russia past and present to excellent effect and makes sharp observations about the contemporary Russian scene, such as the racism Lord encounters throughout the country. The book's villain needs a bit more development, but this doesn't detract much from a solid tale a cut above and then some many thrillers on the market. Agent, Pam Ahearn. Author tour. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In his accomplished second thriller (after The Amber Room), Berry turns to another great historical mystery-the 1918 murder of Nicholas II and his family-skillfully blending fact with a contemporary tale of conspiracy. After the fall of communism, the Russian people have voted to restore the monarchy. Miles Lord, a black lawyer from Atlanta, has been hired by a mysterious cabal to pave the way for Stefan Baklanov, a Romanov by birth. When Lord discovers documents hinting at the survival of two of Nicholas's children, he finds himself marked for death and on the run. Accompanied by a circus performer, Akilina (the "Eagle"), Lord follows a series of clues as he attempts to unravel one of Rasputin's last prophecies, in which Lord himself now plays a crucial role as "the Raven." Exciting action, an engrossing puzzle, and atmospheric settings make this a great read. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/04.]-Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The fate of Mother Russia ups the ante for Berry's formula: historically based international intrigue, swashbuckling action, indestructible hero from the American South (The Amber Room, 2003). Now that they've tried Bolshevism, Communism, the New World Order, and de facto rule by the mafiya, the Russians are ready for-what else?-a new tsar. Miles Lord has been sent to Moscow with Taylor Hayes, a senior partner from his Atlanta law firm, to serve as a member of the commission charged with picking the best candidate and to confirm the Romanov credentials of Stefan Baklanov. An assassination attempt doesn't alert Lord to the danger that obviously awaits him, but the same two functionaries keep on trying to kill him so often, and with such a uniform lack of success, that eventually he realizes his problems run deeper than Russians' suspicious condescension toward African-Americans. What he doesn't realize is that Hayes is in on the plot to catapult Baklanov over the competition by bribing the commission members, insuring his own secret cabal's control over the pliant new tsar. After calling Hayes to report every failed attempt on his life, Lord finally picks up the trail of a story so big he can't even phone home to discuss it: the existence of a direct descendant of Nicholas II, a son of one of the tsar's children whose bones were missing from the collective 1991 exhumation because the family wasn't all killed in Ekaterinburg after all. Joining forces with a lovely Russian acrobat-fated, according to the murdered Gregorii Rasputin's prophecy, to become his partner in the search-Lord takes off on a wild hunt for the true heir, pursued closely by the same ineffectual killers. The sanguinaryfinale, in which Hayes exhorts his hapless henchmen to "do what you do best," is not to be missed. History remade as action screenplay. You can smell the popcorn. Agent: Pamela Ahearn/Ahearn Agency
From the Publisher
Praise for Steve Berry

The Romanov Prophecy
“READERS WHO ENJOY THE BOOKS OF DAN BROWN AND DANIEL SILVA WILL ENJOY THE ROMANOV PROPHECY, TOO. This is a wild roller-coaster ride, with explosive action and compelling suspense, delving into one of the great mysteries of our time.”
–SHARON KAY PENMAN, author of Time and Chance

The Amber Room
“SEXY, ILLUMINATING, AND CONFIDENT . . . a globe-trotting treasure hunt packed with exotic locales, sumptuous art, and ruthless villains.
Steve Berry writes with the self-assured style of a veteran.”
–DAN BROWN, author of The Da Vinci Code

“COMPELLING . . . ADVENTURE-FILLED . . . a fast-moving, globe-hopping tale of long-lost treasure and shadowy bad guys.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“MAGNIFICENTLY ENGROSSING, with wonderful characters and a plot that speeds, twists, and turns. Pure intrigue, pure fun.”
–CLIVE CUSSLER

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345504395
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/27/2007
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 201,801
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Berry

Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Lincoln Myth, The King’s Deception, The Columbus Affair, The Jefferson Key, The Emperor’s Tomb, The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, The Alexandria Link, The Templar Legacy, The Third Secret, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Amber Room. His books have been translated into 40 languages with more than 18,000,000 copies in 51 countries.
 
History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It’s this passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, that led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have traveled across the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners, and their popular writers’ workshops. To date, nearly 2,500 students have attended those workshops. In 2012 their work was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve the first spokesman for National Preservation Week. He was also appointed by the Smithsonian Board of Regents to serve on the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board to help promote and support the libraries in their mission to provide information in all forms to scientists, curators, scholars, students, and the public at large. He has received the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award and the 2013 Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers. His novel The Columbus Affair earned him the Anne Frank Human Writes Award, and his historic preservation work merited the 2013 Silver Bullet from International Thriller Writers.
 
Steve Berry was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years. He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers—a group of more than 2,600 thriller writers from around the world—and served three years as its co-president.
 
For more information, visit www.steveberry.org.

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Read an Excerpt

ONE

moscow, the present

tuesday, october 12

1:24 pm

In fifteen seconds Miles Lord’s life changed forever.

He first saw the sedan. A dark blue Volvo station wagon, the tint so deep that it appeared black in the bright midday sun. He next noticed the front tires cutting right, weaving a path around traffic on busy Nikolskaya Prospekt. Then the rear window, reflective as a mirror, descended, and a distorted reflection of the surrounding buildings was replaced by a dark rectangle pierced by the barrel of a gun.

Bullets exploded from the gun.

He dived flat. Screams arose around him as he slammed onto the oily pavement. The sidewalk was packed with afternoon shoppers, tourists, and workers, all now lunging for cover as lead raked a trail across the weathered stone of Stalinist-era buildings.

He rolled over and looked up at Artemy Bely, his lunch companion. He’d met the Russian two days back and taken him to be an amicable young lawyer with the Justice Ministry. Lawyer to lawyer they’d eaten dinner last night and breakfast this morning, talking of the new Russia and the great changes coming, both marveling at being part of history. His mouth opened to shout a warning, but before he could utter a sound Bely’s chest erupted and blood and sinew splattered on the plate-glass window beyond.

The automatic fire came with a constant rat-tat-tat that reminded him of old gangster movies. The plate glass gave way and jagged shards crashed to the sidewalk. Bely’s body crumpled on top of him. A coppery stench rose from the gaping wounds. He shoved the lifeless Russian off, worried about the red tide soaking into his suit and dripping from his hands. He hardly knew Bely. Was he HIV-positive?

The Volvo screeched to a stop.

He looked to his left.

Car doors popped open and two men sprang out, both armed with automatic weapons. They wore the blue-and-gray uniforms with red lapels of the militsya—the police. Neither, though, sported the regulation gray caps with red brim. The man from the front seat had the sloped forehead, bushy hair, and bulbous nose of a Cro-Magnon. The man who slid from the rear was stocky with a pockmarked face and dark, slicked-back hair. The man’s right eye caught Lord’s attention. The space between the pupil and eyebrow was wide, creating a noticeable droop—as if one eye was closed, the other open—and provided the only indication of emotion on an otherwise expressionless face.

Droopy said to Cro-Magnon in Russian, “The damn chornye survived.”

Did he hear right?

Chornye.

The Russian equivalent for nigger.

His was the only black face he’d seen since arriving in Moscow eight weeks ago, so he knew he had a problem. He recalled something from a Russian travel book he’d read a few months back. Anyone dark-skinned can expect to arouse a certain amount of curiosity. What an understatement.

Cro-Magnon acknowledged the comment with a nod. The two men stood thirty yards away, and Lord wasn’t about to wait around to find out what they wanted. He sprang to his feet and raced in the opposite direction. With a quick glance over his shoulder he saw the two calmly crouch and ready themselves to shoot. An intersection loomed ahead, and he leaped the remaining distance just as gunfire blasted from behind.

Bullets strafed the stone, puffing cloud bursts into the chilly air.

More people dived for cover.

He sprang from the sidewalk and faced a tolkuchki—street market—lining the curb as far as he could see.

“Gunmen. Run,” he screamed in Russian.

A bobushka peddling dolls understood instantly and shuffled to a nearby doorway, jerking tight a scarf around her weathered face. Half a dozen children hawking newspapers and Pepsis darted into a grocery. Vendors abandoned their kiosks and scattered like roaches. The appearance of the mafiya was not uncommon. He knew that a hundred or more gangs operated throughout Moscow. People being shot, knifed, or blown up had become as common as traffic jams, simply the risk of doing business on the streets.

He bolted ahead into the crowded prospekt, traffic merely inching along and starting to congeal in the mayhem. A horn blared and a braking taxi stopped just short of him. His bloodied hands came down hard on the hood. The driver continued to lean on the horn. He looked back and saw the two men with guns round the corner. The crowd parted, which provided a clear shot. He dived behind the taxi as bullets obliterated the driver’s side.

The horn stopped blaring.

He raised himself up and stared into the driver’s bloodied face, smushed against the passenger’s-side window, one eye cocked open, the pane stained crimson. The men were now fifty yards away, on the other side of the congested prospekt. He studied the storefronts on both sides of the street and registered a men’s fashion salon, children’s clothing boutique, and several antiques galleries. He searched for someplace in which to disappear and chose McDonald’s. For some reason the golden arches harked of safety.

He raced down the sidewalk and shoved open its glass doors. Several hundred people packed the chest-high tables and booths. More stood in line. He recalled that this was at one point the busiest restaurant in the world.

He was gulping air fast and a scent of grilled burgers, fries, and cigarettes accompanied each breath. His hands and clothes were still bloody. Several women started to scream that he’d been shot. A panic overtook the young crowds and there was a mad push for the doors. He shouldered forward, deeper into the throng, and quickly realized this was a mistake. He pushed through the dining room toward stairs that led down to bathrooms. He slipped out of the panicked mob and skipped down the stairs three at a time, his bloodied right hand gliding across a slick iron rail.

“Back. Away. Back,” deep voices ordered in Russian from above.

Gunfire erupted.

More screams and rushed footsteps.

He found the bottom of the stairs and faced three closed doors. One led to the ladies’ room, the other to the men’s. He opened the third. A large storage room spanned before him, its walls shiny white tile like the rest of the restaurant. In one corner three people huddled around a table smoking. He noticed their T-shirts—Lenin’s face superimposed over McDonald’s golden arches. Their gazes met his.

“Gunmen. Hide,” he said in Russian.

Without a word, all three bolted from the table and shot toward the far end of the brightly lit room. The lead man flung open a door, and they disappeared outside. Lord stopped only an instant to slam shut the door from which he’d entered and lock it from the inside, then he followed.

He dashed out into the chilly afternoon and stood in an alley behind the multistory building that accommodated the restaurant. He half expected Gypsies or bemedaled war veterans to be in residence. Every nook and cranny of Moscow seemed to provide shelter to one or another dispossessed social group.

Dingy buildings surrounded him, the coarsely hewn stone blackened and scarred from decades of unregulated auto emissions. He’d often wondered what those same fumes did to lungs. He tried to get his bearings. He was about a hundred yards north of Red Square. Where was the nearest Metro station? That could be his best means of escape. There were always policemen in the stations. But policemen were chasing him. Or were they? He’d read how the mafiya many times donned police uniforms. Most times the streets were littered with police—too damn many—all sporting nightsticks and automatic weapons. Yet today he’d seen not one.

A thud came from inside the building.

His head whipped around.

The door at the far end of the storage room leading from the bathrooms was being forced. He started running in the direction of the main street, just as gunfire echoed from inside.

He found the sidewalk and turned right, running as fast as his suit would allow. He reached up, unbuttoned his collar, and yanked down his tie. Now at least he could breathe. It would only be a few moments before his pursuers rounded the corner from behind. He quickly swerved right and vaulted a waist-high, chain-link fence encircling one of the innumerable parking lots dotting Moscow’s inner ring.

He slowed to a trot and let his eyes shoot left and right. The lot was full of Ladas, Chaikas, and Volgas. Some Fords. A few German sedans. Most filthy with soot and dented from abuse. He looked back. The two men had cleared the corner a hundred yards back and were now racing in his direction.

He rushed forward down the center of the grassy lot. Bullets ricocheted off the cars to his right. He dived behind a dark Mitsubishi and peered around its rear bumper. The two men were positioned on the other side of the fence, Cro-Magnon standing, his gun aimed forward, Droopy still trotting toward the fence.

A car engine revved.

Smoke poured from the exhaust. Brake lights lit.

It was a cream-colored Lada that had been parked to the opposite side of the center lane. The car quickly backed out of its space. He saw fear on the driver’s face. He’d most likely heard the bullets and decided to leave fast.

Droopy jumped the fence.

Lord rushed from his hiding place and vaulted onto the Lada’s hood, his hands clasping the windshield wipers. Thank heaven the damn thing had wipers. He knew most drivers kept them locked in the glove compartment to thwart thieves. The Lada’s driver gave him a startled look but kept rolling forward toward the busy boulevard. Through the rear window Lord saw Droopy, fifty yards behind, crouching to fire and Cro-Magnon scaling the fence. He thought of the taxi driver and decided it wasn’t right to involve this man. As the Lada exited onto the six-lane boulevard, he rolled off the hood and onto the sidewalk.

Bullets arrived in the next second.

The Lada whipped left and sped away.

Lord continued to roll until he was in the street, hoping a slight depression below the curb would be enough to block Droopy’s firing angle. The earth and concrete churned as bullets dug in.

A crowd waiting for a bus scattered.

He glanced to his left. A bus was no more than fifty feet away and rolling toward him. Air brakes engaged. Tires squealed. The scent of sulfur exhaust was nearly suffocating. He twirled his body into the street as the bus screeched to a stop. The vehicle was now between him and the gunmen. Thank God no cars were using the boulevard’s outermost lane.

He stood and darted across the six-lane road. Traffic all came one way, from the north. He crisscrossed the lanes and made a point of staying perpendicular with the bus. Halfway, he was forced to pause and wait for a line of cars to pass. There’d only be a few moments more until the gunmen rounded the bus. He took advantage of a break in traffic and ran across the final two lanes, onto the sidewalk, jumping the curb.

Ahead was a busy construction site. Bare girders rose four stories into a rapidly clouding afternoon sky. He’d still not seen one policeman other than the two on his tail. Over the whirl of traffic came the roar of cranes and cement mixers. Unlike back home in Atlanta, no fences of any kind delineated the unsafe zone.

He trotted onto the work site and glanced back to see the gunmen starting their own bisection of the crowded boulevard, dodging cars, horns protesting their progress. Workers milled about the construction site, paying him little attention. He wondered how many black men dressed in bloody suits ran onto the job site every day. But it was all part of the new Moscow. The safest course was surely to stay out of the way.

Behind, the two gunmen found the sidewalk. They were now less than fifty yards away.

Ahead, a cement mixer churned gray mortar into a steel trough as a helmeted worker monitored the progress. The trough rested on a large wooden platform chained to a cable that ran four stories up to a roof crane. The worker tending the mixture backed away and the entire assembly rose.

Lord decided up was as good a place as any and raced for the ascending platform, leaping forward, gripping the platform’s bottom edge. Crusted concrete caked on the surface made it difficult to maintain a hold, but thoughts of Droopy and his pal kept his fingers secure.

The platform rose, and he swung himself upward.

The unbalanced movement caused a sway, chains groaning from the added weight, but he managed to climb up and flatten his body against the trough. The added weight and movement tipped everything his way, and mortar sloshed onto him.

He glanced over the side.

The two gunmen had seen what he did. He was fifty feet in the air and climbing. They stopped their advance and took aim. He felt the mortar-encrusted wood beneath him and stared at the steel trough.

No choice.

He quickly rolled into the trough, sending wet mortar oozing over the side. Cold mud enveloped him and sent a chill through his already shaking body.

Gunfire started.

Bullets ripped the wooden underside and pelted the trough. He shrank into the cement and heard the recoil of lead off steel.

Suddenly, sirens.

Coming closer.

The shooting stopped.

He peered out toward the boulevard and saw three police cars speeding south, his way. Apparently the gunmen had heard the sirens, too, and hastily retreated. He then saw the dark blue Volvo that had started everything appear from the north and speed down the boulevard. The two gunmen backed toward it, but seemed unable to resist a few parting shots.

He watched as they finally climbed into the Volvo and roared away.

Only then did he raise up on his knees and release a sigh of relief.

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Foreword

1. In Berry's first novel of suspense, The Amber Room, he used as his backdrop a piece of history that is very real but largely unknown to the American audience. In this novel, he uses as his backdrop a much better known piece of history-namely, the execution of Russia's last royal family. Before reading this novel, how much did you know about the Romanovs and their tragic end? Did you find Berry's research enlightening, were you aware of these historical events? How did your prior knowledge-or lack thereof-affect your interest in this backdrop and storyline? In general, would you rather read a novel concerned with 1) a historical incident you know well, 2) a historical incident about which you know something but not too much, or 3) a historical incident with which you are completely unfamiliar?

2. The Prologue in The Romanov Prophecy introduces you to the Romanovs, and their concern for succession, and also to Rasputin, whose words become crucial to the story later on. Did you enjoy the Prologue? Did it intrigue you and compel you to read on? How did it add to the overall atmosphere of the book?

3. In The Romanov Prophecy bullets fly in the first paragraph of Chapter 1, and we find Miles Lord on the run from then on. Do you prefer when a novel of this type builds suspense slowly and steadily, or when it begins with a bang? Did the first chapter's frantic opening help you sympathize with Lord's disorientation and subsequent struggle for survival? Or did the quick pace exhaust or confuse you as a reader? How did you feel about the pace throughout the rest of the novel?

4. Miles Lord is an African-American, and we learn early on how hiscomplexion sets him apart from others in Russia. Why do you think Berry chose to create a black narrator in Russia? How does Lord's race affect his quest? How does it enhance the book's tension? And how does Berry use it to tell us more about Russia?

5. Early on in the book, the reader learns that Taylor Hayes is not as trustworthy as Lord thinks he is. Throughout the rest of the novel, this provides a great deal of dramatic irony, as Lord continues to trust Hayes implicitly while the reader recognizes he is making a nearly fatal mistake. How does Berry use this device (dramatic irony) to raise tension and to play with readers' expectations? Did you buy into Lord's continuing trust of his boss? And did you think that this source of tension sustained itself over the course of the entire book?

6. Accidentally (or not at all accidentally, if you believe Rasputin's words), Lord comes to partner up with Akilina Petrovna, a circus performer who is proudly Russian, though she has undoubtedly experienced all the worst Russia has had to offer over the years. As their quest comes more and more to follow the path prophesied so many years before by Rasputin, Akilina is much quicker than Lord to accept the predestined or mythical nature of it all. Lord more steadfastly maintains skepticism through much of the novel. Did you feel that Akilina was too quick to accept the prophecy? Did you feel that Lord was too slow? Berry seems to place much of the reasoning behind this difference between them on the national characters of Russia and the United States. What does this tell us about Russians, and about Americans? Do you agree with Berry's analysis?

7. Throughout the novel, Berry basically employs only three points of view-Lord's, Hayes', and Akilina's. Are these three points of view enough with which to tell the story fully? In your opinion, are any of the three unnecessary? Whose point of view was the most interesting to you? Whose was the least interesting? How did the relatively small number of points of view enhance the novel? In your opinion, did it in any way detract from the novel?

8. When Lord and Akilina finally know for sure that Michael Thorn is the Romanov descendent they've been seeking, Lord asks him, "Why haven't you come forward?" Thorn responds: "I was always told not to reveal myself unless the raven and the eagle appeared and the words were uttered. Anything less was a trap laid down by our enemies." Did you find this tough to accept, as Lord does? Clearly it makes sense to Thorn, who is of the mindset that he is part of something much larger than himself. But, in your opinion, is he too respectful of the mysticism surrounding the succession? Should he have stepped forward as soon as the search for a successor began?

9. A number of times throughout the novel, we return to the actual events of July 16, 1918, when the Romanov family was executed and their bodies disposed of. Did you find these sections more or less gripping than the rest of the novel? And how did you feel about the way Berry revealed them slowly, over the course of a few hundred pages, through the words of numerous characters?

10. Obviously, this novel in many ways builds to the revelation of what "really" happened in July 1918-in Berry's version, Alexie and Anastasia were saved heroically and secretly, and then transported to America. Did you find this a satisfying and fitting conclusion? Did you find it believable? And if you're not convinced by Berry's fictional theory, what do you think really happened?

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Reading Group Guide

1. In Berry's first novel of suspense, The Amber Room, he used as his backdrop a piece of history that is very real but largely unknown to the American audience. In this novel, he uses as his backdrop a much better known piece of history-namely, the execution of Russia's last royal family. Before reading this novel, how much did you know about the Romanovs and their tragic end? Did you find Berry's research enlightening, were you aware of these historical events? How did your prior knowledge-or lack thereof-affect your interest in this backdrop and storyline? In general, would you rather read a novel concerned with 1) a historical incident you know well, 2) a historical incident about which you know something but not too much, or 3) a historical incident with which you are completely unfamiliar?

2. The Prologue in The Romanov Prophecy introduces you to the Romanovs, and their concern for succession, and also to Rasputin, whose words become crucial to the story later on. Did you enjoy the Prologue? Did it intrigue you and compel you to read on? How did it add to the overall atmosphere of the book?

3. In The Romanov Prophecy bullets fly in the first paragraph of Chapter 1, and we find Miles Lord on the run from then on. Do you prefer when a novel of this type builds suspense slowly and steadily, or when it begins with a bang? Did the first chapter's frantic opening help you sympathize with Lord's disorientation and subsequent struggle for survival? Or did the quick pace exhaust or confuse you as a reader? How did you feel about the pace throughout the rest of the novel?

4. Miles Lord is an African-American, and we learn early on how his complexion sets him apart from others in Russia. Why do you think Berry chose to create a black narrator in Russia? How does Lord's race affect his quest? How does it enhance the book's tension? And how does Berry use it to tell us more about Russia?

5. Early on in the book, the reader learns that Taylor Hayes is not as trustworthy as Lord thinks he is. Throughout the rest of the novel, this provides a great deal of dramatic irony, as Lord continues to trust Hayes implicitly while the reader recognizes he is making a nearly fatal mistake. How does Berry use this device (dramatic irony) to raise tension and to play with readers' expectations? Did you buy into Lord's continuing trust of his boss? And did you think that this source of tension sustained itself over the course of the entire book?

6. Accidentally (or not at all accidentally, if you believe Rasputin's words), Lord comes to partner up with Akilina Petrovna, a circus performer who is proudly Russian, though she has undoubtedly experienced all the worst Russia has had to offer over the years. As their quest comes more and more to follow the path prophesied so many years before by Rasputin, Akilina is much quicker than Lord to accept the predestined or mythical nature of it all. Lord more steadfastly maintains skepticism through much of the novel. Did you feel that Akilina was too quick to accept the prophecy? Did you feel that Lord was too slow? Berry seems to place much of the reasoning behind this difference between them on the national characters of Russia and the United States. What does this tell us about Russians, and about Americans? Do you agree with Berry's analysis?

7. Throughout the novel, Berry basically employs only three points of view-Lord's, Hayes', and Akilina's. Are these three points of view enough with which to tell the story fully? In your opinion, are any of the three unnecessary? Whose point of view was the most interesting to you? Whose was the least interesting? How did the relatively small number of points of view enhance the novel? In your opinion, did it in any way detract from the novel?

8. When Lord and Akilina finally know for sure that Michael Thorn is the Romanov descendent they've been seeking, Lord asks him, "Why haven't you come forward?" Thorn responds: "I was always told not to reveal myself unless the raven and the eagle appeared and the words were uttered. Anything less was a trap laid down by our enemies." Did you find this tough to accept, as Lord does? Clearly it makes sense to Thorn, who is of the mindset that he is part of something much larger than himself. But, in your opinion, is he too respectful of the mysticism surrounding the succession? Should he have stepped forward as soon as the search for a successor began?

9. A number of times throughout the novel, we return to the actual events of July 16, 1918, when the Romanov family was executed and their bodies disposed of. Did you find these sections more or less gripping than the rest of the novel? And how did you feel about the way Berry revealed them slowly, over the course of a few hundred pages, through the words of numerous characters?

10. Obviously, this novel in many ways builds to the revelation of what "really" happened in July 1918-in Berry's version, Alexie and Anastasia were saved heroically and secretly, and then transported to America. Did you find this a satisfying and fitting conclusion? Did you find it believable? And if you're not convinced by Berry's fictional theory, what do you think really happened?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 152 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 152 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2012

    Exciting book

    Really disliked his book The Third Secret, but thought this one was good.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    Not a Berry fan

    Loved this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 18, 2011

    BY FAR my favorite Berry book!

    This is my absolute favorite Steve Berry book! It is the only one of his books I've ready multiple times - I read it almost once a year. I love the story line and the ending is fantastic!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Once again Berry takes a piece of history and fictionalizes it using good vs bad. A wonderful and entertaining read.

    The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry

    Ever since 1991, when the royal remains of the Romanov family were exhumed from their anonymous grave, there has existed a great debate as to which two children's bodies were actually missing. DNA analysis concluded that the bodies missing are those of Alexi and either Maria or Anastasia. Berry chose Anastasia because of the fascination that has developed around her. With this background, our story begins.

    It is present day in Russia and a commission of 15 has been formed to anoint a czar. Tired of the mafia, oligarchy, and absence of rule of law, the Russian people have decided to restore the monarchy.

    At the same time, a secret chancellory is formed: Taylor Hayes partner of the firm Pridgen & Woodworth and his American investors, Dimitri Yakoyley--Stalin--representing the mafia, Georgey Ostanovich--Lenin--representing the military, Maxim Zubarev-- Khrushchev,--representing the military, Vladimir Kulikov--Brezhnev--representing the oligarchy, and Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    This chancellory has chosen Stefan Baklanov as their candidate to succeed as the next Czar of Russia--a candidate they will manipulate as they desire to guarantee their respective interests. Funded by Hayes, he has brought with him from Atlanta Miles Lord, an African American lawyer fluent in Russian and its history, to investigate any claims any of the other candidates may have with the commission. The commission consists of fifteen elected officials and the final vote must be unanimous. The chancellory intends to buy whatever votes they can't convince.

    In his research, Lord comes with some documents both from Anastasia--about the Rasputin prophecy--and from Lenin itself noting that there are indeed two direct descendants of Czar Nicolas alive. Felix Youssoupov, who killed Rasputin, had a direct involvement in saving two of the children.

    When Lord learns of this possibility, he reports it to Hayes--thus Lord becomes a target. In a train he meets Akilina Petrovna, a circus acrobat , who saves his life. Faced with chasing thugs, Lord takes refuge in the circus where again he is saved by Akilina.

    They meet Seymon Pashenko, Professor of history of the Moscow State University who happens to lead the Holy Band--a society charged with restoring the monarchy as per Rasputin prophecy. The prophecy requires a raven (Lord being black) and an eagle (Aquilina is eagle in Russian) so they embark in a series of steps, a puzzle set in motion many years before, which takes them first to San Francisco, then Genesis, North Carolina, their only guide being a cryptic utterance of Rasputin--implying that the infamous massacre of the Romanov family was not the last chapter of their history. The prophecy's implications are earth-shattering--not only for the future tzar and Mother Russia, but also for Lord and his future.

    Once again Berry takes a piece of history and fictionalizes it using good vs bad. A wonderful and entertaining read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2007

    As good as Exile or the DaVinci Code

    Wow! Having enjoyed the DaVinci code, and recently having finished 'Exile' by Allan Folsom which also deals with the Romanov's, I was drawn to this title. This is my first Steve Berry Book, and it did not disappoint. Altho some of the action seens were kind of difficult to believe, they did keep me on the edge of my seat. The characters were believable and it was a real page-turner. Give it a try.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2014

    The Romanov Prophecy

    This book was an enjoyable read. It was reminiscent of Dan Brown's DaVinci Code. The naive nature of the characters is a bit unrealistic. But overall I found it a compelling work of fiction.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 22, 2013

    Very Good Read

    Not Berry's best book, but a very good read nonetheless. Enjoyed it very much.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2013

    Decent thriller

    Nice thriller with some interesting facts regarding Rasputin and the Romanovs

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 8, 2013

    Excellent Book

    I really enjoyed this book. It is my favorite pre Cotton Malone Steve Berry book. The history of the Romanov family and of Tsarist Russia mixed in with a modern story of the restoration of the Tsar makes for an interesting story. Miles Lord is a compelling lead character for this story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2012

    Great book

    Loved this book, didnt think I would like Russian history but this book made it very interesting! Great read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2012

    A fun read!

    A fun read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2012

    The best book i read

    This is the best book i read, very interesting,fast pace adventours, and heart pounding

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 27, 2011

    Excellent

    A great read. Fast moving and historically sound.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Read!!!

    This is the only Steve Berry book that I loved. Its fun, exciting, intriguing, and dramatic. I loved this book. I wish he would ditch Cotton Malone and do more things like this.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent Read

    Could not put the book down. A real page turner. Berry really knows how to draw the reader into the tick of things.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2009

    History comes alive!

    If you are into History -- and want more on the Romanov family and their last days - then this is the book for you. Lots of history tied into a mystery and adventure. Easy reading - don't want to put it down. Enjoy!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 23, 2009

    Steve Berry does it again!! This book is excellent.

    Mr Berry did a superb job with this novel. It is obvious that he did a great deal of research on the subject which makes it hard to tell the difference between fact and fiction. As with most of Mr Berry's books, it was hard to put down and when I completed it, I couldn't wait to start the next book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 31, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Author Great Author

    Have read all of this author's books and they are great reads

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  • Posted May 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    FRESH AND UNIQUE TOPIC

    I read historical fiction and non-fiction extensively but have read little or nothing on Russian history or on contemporary Russia. It would be hard to imagine anyone that has not heard of Nicholas, Alexandra and Rasputin. However, I had never encountered specific details of the murders or disposition of the bodies even though this is relatively recent history and not ancient history. I was also not aware that San Francisco was a hub of Russian emigration, hidden Tsarist gold, and support of the White Russian forces opposed to the Red Bolsheviks. Hence I found this historical perspective and the culture and current conditions in Russia fresh and engrossing. Initially the concept of the Russian people wanting the return of the Tsar and another form of autocratic government appeared far fetched. However, Berry's explanation of this Russian mindset made this idea plausible and convincing. I had not read Steve Berry's early novels without Cotton Malone, but the lawyer Miles Lord is a credible hero without secret agent or military training. He is something of an "Everyman" or as much of one as a well to do lawyer can be. The chase through the North Carolina and Tennessee mountains was of special interest to me since I often vacation in the North Carolina Mountains and my family is from Tennessee. Lord's absolute belief in the integrity of his employer seemed a bit naïve, but again he was not accustomed to intrigue. His numerous close escapes from death and the ineptitude of his pursuers were a bit unrealistic, but by this point I was pulling for him anyway. I liked this book so much that my recent birthday present was a first edition, first printing, autographed copy of Steve Berry's first book, "The Amber Room".

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  • Posted May 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good audio, bad novel

    Good audio, bad novel

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