Kathy's Reviews > Darker Jewels

Darker Jewels by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
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's review
May 21, 12

bookshelves: fantasy-other-world, vampire, historical-fiction
Read from May 19 to 21, 2012

** spoiler alert ** 1582 - The last years of Russian's Czar Ivan VI's (Ivan the Terrible)reign - He ruled for 50 years - and was a dynamic, effective ruler - warring and winning land for Russia - by a man thought to be insane.... In this fiction he is crazed by the guilt of killing his son (striking him in the side of the head in anger) - spending an inordinate amount of time in chapels, not washing, obsessing over getting a message of forgiveness, consulting witches, going into convulsions at times.

And Rakoczy, exile, friend to Transylvanian King Istavn Bathory of Poland is sent to use his alchemy to produce stones for the crazed Ivan, and work with the priests/emissaries to forge trade agreements.

And Rakoczy becomes embroiled in the politics of the Russian court - He is rewarded (a manipulation of Shuisky) for a gorgeous amethyst he gives to Ivan by being wedded to Xenya Evgeneiva, a 'damaged' cousin of Shuisky - Xenya's father abandoned 11 year old Xenya to 8 Mongols who overran their estate, who all raped her. She is now 23, past the age of marrying, living in one of the court Shuisky's homes as poor relation, doing charity works... she only wants to be invisible. Shuisky wants to use her a spy in Rakoczy's house.

We learn of the Orthodox church... the noblilities infighting to become Czar... of crazy Ivan's last days of guilt for killing his son... of his other son, perhaps of Down's syndrome, who succeeds him with 2 advisors appointed him... of the Shuisky's treachery... of Boris Godunov (future successor to Ivan's son) - an honorable man who loves Russian, loves his family, forward thinking, friend to Rackozy.

Rothgar, his faithful servant, accompanies him to Russian

And Saint-Germain - keeps his humanity by finding one to love - and in this decade it is Xenya - he treats her with a respect that is unknown to most Russian women, allowing her to decide for herself the role she will play. He is her friend, giving her the comfort she would allow after a nightmare... and then later, loving her in his way - helping her find her joy (sexual climax) so that he can find his... He loves her in stages, waiting her out, giving her control... and when he is arrested and beaten, though he has arranged for her lifetime income & a safe place to live, she finds her strength, and goes with his damaged body as he tries to exit Russia - to the point of giving her life defending him from guards sent to rearrest him.

And Boris puts down the Shuisky's plan, exonerates Racokzy... and Rakozy heals, and goes to Ghent...

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