I found The Romanov Prophecy at Book Sale, a second hand bookshop, in Davao City a few months ago. Previously, I have read two Steve Berry books, The Templar Legacy and The Alexandria Link, both are Cotton Malone novels, and I really enjoyed them.
Here is a synopsis of the book from Steve Berry’s website:
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.
The story delves into what could have probably happened to Anastasia and Alexei Romanov, the two children of Tsar Nicolas II whose bodies were never found. (To know more about this you, click this link or check this Wikipedia page. For a brief background on the Romanovs click this link)
This novel has all the elements I enjoyed from the two Cotton Malone novels — history, action, fast-paced, and great characters. I like how he played with Russian history wherein Berry was able to mix fact and fiction really well.
I loved how the author plunges the reader immediately into action with the first chapter of the novel. I did not expect that since I expected it to be in a much slower pace than the Cotton Malone novels. All throughout the story there is action, which I really enjoyed. Though I did not care about the little love story brewing between Miles Lord and his female companion but those sections helped you understand the characters more.
I also enjoyed the character of Miles Lord. I like the fact that though he is a smart man and has a decent job, he also has his flaws, which were actually annoying throughout the story. There are portions of the story that makes you want to punch him.
I had a hard time retaining my imagination when it comes to the antagonists. The Russian antagonists have a code name and their real name and most of the time I tend to forget which code name corresponds to which real name. But I love the antagonists here, they were ruthless.
Some of the things I did not like about the books is its ending. It had a really great opening but the ending was somewhat disappointing. Not bad, just disappointing. They found the heir to the Russian throne, there was a brief fight between the antagonists and protagonists, then the antagonists win, and the heir sits on the throne, the end. I was wanting for more like the heir’s family leaving him or one of the protagonists gets killed or something.
Another is, the novel was too short. I wanted more after reading it.
Just a word of advice, I suggest you have an encyclopedia on hand or be beside a computer. The setting is in Russia and sometimes it is difficult to imagine some of the places especially if you are not familiar with them.
Overall, it was a great read. I have never read much on Russian history but this book definitely triggered by interests to the its history. I’d give the book a 3.8 out of 5 stars.
Presently, I have three unread Steve Berry novels, two stand-alone novels (The Third Secret and The Columbus Affair) and one Cotton Malone Novel, The King’s Deception. I am really excited to read all three.