S. Martin Shelton

Retired U.S.Navy Captain, Novelist

Archive for the tag “Romanov”

Review – The Romanov Ransom

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Two Stars

Clive Cussler wrote an excellent book once. Unfortunately, The Romanov Ransom is not it. This pseudo-roman à clef tome is tedious, formulaic, and outlandish. The plot is so absurdly improbable that it negates any semblance of believability. It fails to engender empathy.

Briefly: in 1918, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark), the mother of Czar Nicholas II, assembles a cache of jewels to ransom her son, the Empress Alexandra, and their five children from the Bolsheviks’ captivity. Unfortunately, the cache is stolen and disappears. Around midnight on 18 July 1918, the Bolsheviks execute the royal family and their retainers—regicide. The plot focuses on the searchers competing to find the missing cache.

I’ve read six or seven Cussler books, and with minor modifications all have the same basic plot. The brave, indefatigable, and infinitely resourceful protagonist pursues, through locations worldwide, outwits, and defeats the eeevil antagonist—in this tome, it’s resurgent Nazis and an unscrupulous international jewel thief. Supporting the protagonist is the loyal, capable, and archetypal sidekick. In The Romanov Ransom, the sidekick is the protagonist’s wife—a dead shot killing the bad guys a bunch. Buttressing the good guy, back at headquarters (or wherever), are folks with in-depth knowledge of what’s needed or access to electronic or mechanical devices that advance the protagonist’s agenda. (In the Cussler books I’ve read, I’ve not found a lead female protagonist.)

Other factors that degrade the credibility of the narrative are that the good guy has a passport that lets him and his cadre travel wherever they want, unencumbered; he has unlimited fiscal resources; can pass weapons of most any caliber through airport screenings, and has associates who always have just the skill needed at the moment. (“Sam invited Sergei, who happened to be fluent in Polish, to come along with them.”) Also, no matter the dire life-or-death situation in which our good guy and his sidekick and/or associates are enmeshed, a deus ex machina, at the last instant, resolves the danger.

What’s unfortunate is that Cussler posits an intriguing plot that could have been developed into a compelling narrative.

FIN

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Romanov Jewelry

Fabulous hardly describes the vast treasure of the Romanov jewelry cache.  Below are a few samples of this vast collection.  For those who have a keener interest I recommend the book titled Jewels of the Romanovs, Stefano Papi, Thames&Hudson, New York, 2010.

The Imperial Arms of the House of Romanov

The Imperial Arms of the House of Romanov

Faberge Emerald Necklace

Faberge Emerald Necklace

 

Empress Alexandria's Double-Eagle Pendant

Empress Alexandria’s Double-Eagle Pendant

Faberge Egg with Diamond

Faberge Egg with Diamond

Coronet Created for Grand Duchess Maria Fedorovna

Coronet Created for Grand Duchess Maria Fedorovna

Diamond and Emerald Kokoshnik for a Grand Duchess

Diamond and Emerald Kokoshnik for a Grand Duchess

Imperial Nuptial Crown, 1840 with Antique Brazilian  Diamonds at 275 Carats

Imperial Nuptial Crown, 1840 with Antique Brazilian Diamonds at 275 Carats

Imperial Orb, in Red Gold, 1784 with Diamond Surround and Indian Light-Blue Diamonds of 47 Carats

Imperial Orb, in Red Gold, 1784 with Diamond Surround and Indian Light-Blue Diamonds of 47 Carats

Diamond and Sapphire Ring

Diamond and Sapphire Ring

Join the Czar’s1916 Christmas Ball in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg—formal gown or white tie and tails required—as seen in the narrative of my historical novel St. Catherine’s Crown.   See the diamond encrusted Imperial Crown on Empress Alexandra, the magnificent collier ruse on Grand Duchess Tatiana,  The diamond chain of the Order of Saint Andrew on Grand Duchess Maria, the coronet of diamonds and emeralds on Grand Duchess Olga, and the double-strand diamond collier d’esclave on Grand Duchess Anastasia.

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