So many historical novels set in the 16th century focus on Tudor England (and sometimes also France, with a smattering of Italy) that I get very excited whenever a story is set in other parts of Europe. C.P. Lesley is on one of the few historical fiction authors that I know of whose work brings to life the exciting and dangerous world of Eastern Europe and Russia in the years leading up to the reign of Ivan the Terrible.
The Shattered Drum is the fifth in The Legends of the Five Direction series. Set in 1537-38, it centers on the lives of Tatar Princess Nasan Kolycheva and her husband Danill, member of the Russian nobility. Together with several of their relatives, they must navigate the treacherous forces at play at the Muscovite court where the ruthless and ambitious Elena Glinskaya is regent on behalf of her young son Ivan.
Elena may be clever and powerful, but there are those – like the leaders of the Shuisky clan – who would see her power curtailed and their own families elevated further. So when Elena dies in mysterious circumstances, many of the noblemen considered loyal to her, including Danill, are arrested and their own lives are in peril. Danill is thrown into prison at an abandoned monastery outside of Moscow, and Nasan must organize a rescue mission before it’s too late.
The Shattered Drum is an enjoyable tale of political machinations in 16th century Muscovy, and Tatar turf wars on the steppe. It is richly detailed and evocative of one of the most turbulent centuries in Eastern European history that shaped the future of the entire continent. As such, it is sure to appeal to those who want not only to be entertained, but to learn something new as well.
If you enjoy historical fiction, check out The Greenest Branch, my novel based on the life of Hildegard of Bingen, Germany’s first female physician. It is FREE to read on Kindle Unlimited, and available in ebook and paperback on Amazon US, Amazon UK, and several other Amazon marketplaces.