The following is an excerpt from the first chapter of Supertsar, Sibling Rivalry.
Sophia! The Most Orthodox Princess. Regent of Russia these past seven years. If the softness of her cheeks, if the gentle smile gave nothing away, her almond eyes surely betrayed the intelligence beneath them. Sophia Alexeyevich, empress in all but name. Ruler of those that remained. Those who had yet to defect to her meddlesome brother, curse him.
Why should she cede the Regency? Of course Pyotr was old enough to reign, but until recently he’d betrayed no overt interest in the throne. And what skills did he possess? He certainly lacked experience. The experience and wisdom Sophia had utilized as Imperial Highness of All Great and Little Russia. For seven years she’d ruled this land with little trouble. Of course, there was Golitsyn’s latest Crimean debacle, but she could hardly be blamed for her favorite’s shortcomings as a field commander.
She carefully placed the cup of tea by the steaming samovar, keeping her rage deep inside. Rage was an emotion and, surrounded as she always was by a gaggle of courtiers and chatty hangers-on, she dare not show the slightest weakness. The men around her (if one could call them men; Sophia often thought of her fellow Russians as overgrown boys) were dangerous and constantly sought to undermine her authority.
It wasn’t the power she longed to preserve, but the lifestyle. Sequestered in the upper levels of the palace for most of her life, a prisoner of societal expectations as much as the terem itself, Sophia’s psyche—her intellect, her creativity—suffered in the forced solitude. But power had freed her, protected her, liberated her. She knew she would never willingly cede it.
And here was Vasily Golitsyn, kneeling before her, telling her not to worry. “Pyotr has merely fled Preobrazhenskoe at the nervous behest of his advisors. They plan no move against you.”
“Your words are as empty as your head,” Sophia said. “You suggest no motive on his part. That the Naryhskins would not jump at the chance to remove me. Do you think this is another of my brother’s war games? And what of his request, that Tsykler report to Troitsky with fifty men? I thought you smarter, Vasily.”
Before Golitsyn could protest, Sophia dismissed him. She decided she would speak to her other brother, Ivan. Ivan was a half-wit, but perhaps his counsel might provide some fresh insight where intellect had failed.