by Max Barry

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by The Holy Empire of Rhossenia. . 1 reads.

Dramatis Personae


Raisa Miremeslo - Empress (Tsarina) of Rhossenia. A deeply religious and socially conservative woman, thrust into leadership by the death of her father Emperor Konstantin. With the support of other ultranationalists like Baron Pavel Zhokov, Raisa has made it her goal to purge Rhossenia of all those who she sees as polluting the national character.

Elina Miremeslo - Younger sister of Raisa. A reserved, scholarly young woman. Since the outbreak of the civil war, she has been secluded away at Zordaya, a remote castle owned by the imperial family. Some whisper that this was done to remove her as a potential claimant to the throne, or possibly because of Elina's rumored homosexuality.

Nadezha Nayarabota - Younger cousin of Raisa. Raisa's fondness for Nadezha shielded her and her family from the purges of potential threats during and after the civil war. As the Empress is currently unmarried and without direct heirs, Nadezha is seen as the most likely successor, should some untimely fate befall Raisa.

Pavel Zhokov - Commander of the Sokoly, the Imperial Guard of Rhossenia. A companion of Raisa since childhood, he shares her deep religious convictions and ultraconservative social views. Zhokov was instrumental in leading the government's forces in the civil war, and has since risen in standing to become Raisa's most trusted advisor and servant. Many consider him to be the true power behind the throne.

Gennady Kasputov - The Master of the Royal Office, responsible for managing the affairs of the imperial household. A largely ceremonial role, but his closeness to the Empress grants him a great deal of informal influence in the affairs of government.

Andrey Daddanov - As Prime Secretary, Daddanov functions as the highest-ranking executive officer in the Rhossian government below the Empress herself. He is responsible for executing the Empress’s will through the various government ministries, as well as organizing the passage of legislation through the Duma. Daddanov was selected for the position following Raisa’s first purge of the government, and is seen as a capable manager who can be relied on to do what he is told.

Anastasia Goncharova - Many call her the “Ice Witch” for her cold demeanor and seeming complete lack of empathy or mercy, but no one dares use that term where they suspect it might be overheard. Goncharova is the leader of the Zhandarmov, the Rhossian secret police and intelligence service. She is the first woman to hold a ministerial position in Rhossian history, and fiercely loyal to the Empress Raisa.

Felix Petrov - The Minister of War, commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Rhossenia. Petrov had been shut out of high office during the reign of Emperor Konstantin IX due to his criticism of the entrenched old guard leadership. Following the civil war, most of the people who opposed his reform proposals had been purged or silenced, and Petrov was elevated to lead the Ministry of War.

Vyacheslav Michailov - The Foreign Minister of Rhossenia. An unassuming, unambitious man whose chief qualification for the position was that he had remained loyal to Raisa during the civil war.

Vladimir Tarasov - The reclusive head of the Tarasov crime family, often called the Bratva (“brotherhood”). Through brutal violence, cunning maneuvers, and an alliance with certain high-ranking members of the government, the Tarasov family became the dominant force in the Rhossian underworld. The Bratva’s web of crime includes extortion, gambling, fraud, and trafficking in weapons, drugs, and people.

Karina Chestnavoyna - Older cousin of the Empress Raisa. When Emperor Konstantin IX died, members of the boyar nobility attempted to usurp Raisa, the heir apparent, and place Karina on the throne instead. Their efforts ignited a relatively short but brutal civil war, but they were ultimately defeated. Karina and most of her closest supporters fled overseas before they could be captured by Raisa’s loyalists. Karina continues to claim the title of Empress of Rhossenia in her exile.


Konstantin Miremeslo - The late Emperor, who fell into a coma and died after learning of the assassination of his wife and son by anarchist terrorists.

Florence Turrell-Meninheim - The late Queen and consort of Emperor Konstatin. A foreign noblewoman from Vionna-Frankenlisch. Killed when anarchist terrorists bombed the royal train.

Aleksandr Miremeslo - The late Crown Prince, youngest child and only son of Emperor Konstantin and Queen Florence. Killed when anarchist terrorists bombed the royal train.

Alexei Baranov - The late Master of Royal Office. Killed when anarchist terrorists bombed the royal train.

Iosef Vronsky - The former head of Zhandarmov. Arrested and executed for his failure to detect and stop the bombing of the royal train.

Yakov Ismailov - The former commander of the Sokoly imperial guard. Arrested and executed for his failure to stop the bombing of the royal train.

Ilya Turov - A prince from an ancient and prominent noble boyar family. He was engaged to marry Raisa, but after the death of Emperor Konstatin he was arrested, charged with plotting to take the throne for himself, and executed.

Nicolai Fyodorovsky - The former Prime Secretary. Arrested and executed as part of Raisa’s purge of the government.

Radomir Koskov - A prince from a noble boyar family. The leader of the movement to crown Karina Chestnavoyna as Empress. Captured during the final months of the civil war and executed for treason.