Friday, October 1, 2004

The Dawning of Deliverance: The Russians, Book 5

The Dawning of Deliverance, Book 5 in Judith Pella’s "The Russians," continues the story of the Russian Federcenko family. Begun in 1876, this saga now covers the early years of the 20th century – 1904, in particular. Also, after focusing more on Anna and Sergei during the earlier books, The Dawning of Deliverance focuses primarily on the younger generation: Mariana Remizov, and Anna and Sergei’s sons Yuri and Andrei.

The major historical people and events now include the Russo-Japanese war and the beginnings of labor unrest back home, culminating in the tragic events of "Bloody Sunday" in January 1905. Mariana goes to the war front as a nurse, and through her experiences we learn of the bungled Russian war operation, the great humiliation that Russia suffered at the hands of the smaller, less powerful Japan. Back home, Sergei helps to teach factory workers, becoming acquainted with the laborers and early unions. Along the way, we meet such historical figures as General Stoessel (in Asia) and Father Gapon, the peaceful priest involved with the labor movement, and even a young Alexander Kerensky, future Soviet leader.

The Federcenko clan has lost its earlier influence with the Tsar, but directly and indirectly we get a glimpse of the Romanov family, including its family secret and the beginning of Alexandra’s relationship with Rasputin. Anna’s brother Paul is rarely seen, and still interacts with Lenin and the revolutionaries – yet now shows signs of maturity.

Some of the plots seem a bit worn, especially the continued villainy from Basil Anickin and Cyril Vlasenko. After nearly 25 years and several books, it seems time to bring in some new antagonists. Instead, both Basil and Cyril stick around, still consumed with their plots to destroy the Federcenko family. Mariana also finds herself, once again, desired by two men – the American reporter Daniel Trent, and a young Russian nobleman she meets at the war front. The love plot is resolved and brought to closure, though, and the two villains thankfully do not dominate the story overall.

Despite the predictable revenge plots, though, the overall story is enjoyable and educational. Particularly intriguing are new character developments in the sons Yuri (now 14 to 15) and Andrei (age 12), who will take on further prominence in the next book in the series (White Nights, Red Morning). The Dawning of Deliverance is entertaining historical fiction about a family living through troubled times in pre-Revolutionary Russia.