This fictional handling of the journey of an obscure German princess to power as Catherine the Great of Russia toes the historical line with care while giving full sway to the arabesques of political and romantic intrigue. The author shows us little Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbat as she arrives in Moscow and meets the Grand Duke Peter, warped and mentally ill. She shows Augusta conquering the Empress Elizabeth through meekness. But after the unconsummated marriage which is to be a court jest, Elizabeth has the pair jailed, and finally- to gain an heir- has Catherine seduced by a nobleman. Catherine studies in solitude, and recovers from the hurt of her spurious affair determined to gain her objective of power. Her liaison with Gregory Orlow secures her the backing of the army; she works at winning the ministers, Panin as well as the formerly formidable enemy Bestujev; ultimately she takes the throne from Peter after Elizabeth's death. The making of a woman and a force in circumstances of splendour and barbarism, this pays the greatest attention to the many individuals involved and is for a semi-popular audience.