A lyrical-historical re-creation: the last days of the Russian royal family in 1917 as they hide in Siberia, waiting for the Whites to rescue them but knowing that all is lost. More quixotically hopeful than even the principals is the Tsar's own regiment--the Preobrazhenskii Regiment--who under the leadership of Prince Ypsilanti go over tundra and through taiga to reach the Tsar and his family and liberate them. Thus two different styles of illusion meet and twine in Italian novelist Pazzi's brief meditation on power and fealty. Pazzi writes best in isolated set pieces--descriptions of the taiga's harsh landscape; the hemophiliac Tsaraevitch Alexei's clement and mystical visions of metamorphosis; a Mongol soldier's oneness with nature--but the story itself is tenuous and thin. Postponement is most of the point, of course--yet still the book seems overly fragile and mortgaged to evanescent moods.