The Swan Princess
In “The Swan Princess,” we meet a new Nasan from the once introduced in “The Golden Lynx“: one who’s a little bit older and a lot sadder after the miscarriage of her first pregnancy. She still finds living under her mother-in-law’s rules to be intolerable, she still finds her sister-in-law unbearable, and now Daniil, her husband, has been posted far away. Since he, unlike her, is illiterate, he can’t write to her, and she is convinced that he’s angry with her for miscarrying and doesn’t love her anymore. But when her mother-in-law’s health fails and they go on a pilgrimage to a monastery, Nasan is able to return to her warrior ways. Will it be enough to save her from her enemies, who have returned, more determined than ever?
“The Swan Princess” is the third book in the Legends of the Five Directions series, set in 16th-century Russia under the reign of Elena Glinskaya and featuring a mix of Russian and Tatar characters. It’s a sort of family drama mixed with historical romance, but extremely thoroughly researched historical romance with a number of sympathetic Muslim protagonists. So while in some ways Nasan is your stereotypical feisty tomboy forced into an arranged marriage, the setting makes these books stand out from run of the mill historical romances. The characters, particularly Nasan, are interesting and relatable, and the background setting is superb. Recommended for anyone interested in Russian history or culture, as well as fans of historical romance.