Where to Start?
A Reader's Guide to Russian Sime~Gen
I've been getting a lot of questions on where to begin reading the 'great soap opera' as I've taken to calling it. ;) The stories in the index are in chronological order by the start of the story. A number of them start in the midde of others, run through others and sometimes end past another story. So where to begin.
Ann Marie Olson
Material © 2002 Ann Marie
Well, here's a synopses and reference guide to what story is which.
The Black Archangel: A very short piece about the origin of one of the most enigmatic, and unusual characters in the series, Mikhail Chernoye. Old Sharm Lord Sergei makes an appearance. This piece was written to answer questions which appear later in the stories. It is not recommended as a first read, as its very confusing and not at all complete without background from other stories in the series!
Selyn Brothers: A short story of the meeting of Avilan and Arkay. Where did their friendship come from and what were these two like as adolescents? Sex, romance and friendship come together in the longest running relationship of the entire series. A fun piece, but possibly a bit confusing to new readers.
Summer's Song: NON-CANON This was my attempt to play around with the song, Royal Forester. A lunchtime exercise that was pretty much a miss, but fun anyway. Avilan again, getting into trouble, which he is too good at. A story to return to later for fun after all the serious ones have been read. Do not take anything in this story as canon. I think it was the result of Avilan bs'ing me about how he met lord T'aszo, as the timing can not work with the rest of the stories.
Azrael's Blessing: Lord Kirov is mad. He's destroyed everything he's touched and is now coming to see his own son and heir as threat. Will Valentine Kirovich survive his father's madness or will he gain Azrael's blessing ... death? Arkay, Avilan, Nashen, Valentine, Kir, Karola, Lukian, Sharm Lord Nivanya and more fill out a huge cast in an epic novel to at least out mass all other Sime~Gen novels. Coming 2002 ... sometime! I promise!
To Catch a Lord: This was my first Russian Sime~Gen piece. Its really rough around the edges now, but at least it introduces all the characters. A good place to start, as it doesn't require a whole cheat sheet for who's who. The story of the founding of the Azov Hegemony. Karola and Avilan Azov meet for the first time, and as is so often the case with Avilan, things do not go smoothly.
Fire's Shadow: My second Russian story. At least finished Russian story. Karola, Avilan and Arkay this time. Recovery and a love that supersedes time and space. Arkay has paid the price for his youthful indiscretions, now he has to truly return to the land of the living ... with the help of one old friend, one new.
Imp of the Perverted: Avilan being too silly. Not really even canonical for Russian Sime~Gen, but a lot of fun. Some winters are too long for sanity. In Avilan's case, any winter is too long. See what happens when Avilan's cabin fever gets the best of him ... and everyone else! Another piece to enjoy just for fun, not for continuity.
A Time for Always: Diomid is the bastard son of Gitanya Sergeyenova, but being a bastard is only the beginning of his problems. Based on XTC's Apple Venus Vol. 1, A Time for Always is the story of a young man coming to learn there is a time for all things, from the most painful loss, to the greatest joy. This story is fully backgrounded inside the text. A good place to start if you're looking for a longer piece. Note, because of the length of this piece, it is posted in four sections.
Dreams Less Sweet: This was my first novel. It creaks in places so badly it should fall apart. But it continues the story of Arkay's loves and life in his firstborn son, Vayer. Trapped between duty and the demands of growing up, Vayer struggles to find himself in the face of his father's excessive paternalism. Many pieces of this story are told from other points of view elsewhere. A good piece to read to fill in chronology after Fire's Shadow.
Galloping Conclusions: Um, what can I say, its cold out and Arkay and Nashen are still getting to know each other. Hormones overflow as winter binds two people who love each other madly into mad escapades. This is actually inside Dreams Less Sweet, chronologically. This is another fluff piece, not necessary to continuity at all, but lots of fun.
Age of the Heart: My first posted piece. A little rough, as it does not have the background in it to be understood easily, but the story stands on its own. How young is too young for love, consent, sex? Is age only in years or is it in the age of the heart. Diomid and Kirina face their own demons of love as love across a generation spills over into passion. Not quite NC-17, but not PG. A good story to start with if you like 'em hot.
What Price Immortality?: Kirina wants children, Diomid is afraid of the price. What price, in human lives, is it worth to have children? Both Kirina and Diomid struggle to answer this question, finding the price is paid in the coin of love, no matter how high. An earlier story and so a bit rough, but again, one that can stand on its own fairly well, but works better if the reader knows a broader range of characters.
Azov's Mare: Pure soap opera. Valtanir Azov changes over, is supposed to grow up and leave home. He doesn't want to. Alexandrya Alexandranova, daughter of the last fertile Azov Lord, is supposed to be grown up, not that anyone can tell. Together they find love and laughter in unusual places, and in their own unique way. These two are favorites of mine. Valtanir is so incredibly 'sensitive' and Alexandrya such a firecracker, they were made for each other. Wild, wonderful and filled with as much laughter as tears, Azov's Mare is not your usual sort of Sime~Gen.
A Rainbow of Roses: Avilan is at it again! This time for his twenty-fifth anniversary with Karola. But now his foolishness has rubbed off on his lady and both of them are falling all over their feet. Love, laughter and devotion ring out loud and clear, even with sagging breasts, flagging libidos and more than a touch of insecurity on both parts.
By Other Means: A trilogy of related novellas, or one long novel split in three large pieces, take your pick. Russian freedom does not mean the same thing as Western freedom. Which type of freedom would you choose?
Forbidden Words: RenSimes are forbidden to speak High Simelan, gather to discuss grievances or write in any language. RenSime Dorityan, by a chance encounter early in life, gained the means to do all of these things. Now he's been found out. His freedom or his life? Never an easy choice.
Innocence Shared: Two young men, one great love, and a world between them. Innocence shared leads to tragedy of justice. Can love overcome a law applied with blind fury? Tzer Fatimovich and Mikhail ambrav Kaon struggle to keep their love in the face of a nightmare of misunderstanding and passion twisted through accident to destruction.
Chains Like Knives: Vanesa ambrav Kaon, Sectuib in Kaon, is a woman well aware of her strength and dedication to her Household. But dedication and loyalty can bind as hard as the chains of freedom, and cut to the bone as if those chains were made of knives. Sevrin Azovich, condemned to the Veil and dead to his family, rises from the grave, for love and for the freedom of his people from the chains of the Techton. Conclusion of the trilogy, but true love continues forever. Can the love between Sevrin and Vanesa overcome all the demands of both Techton and Veiled arrayed before them?
A Hatfull of Pins: Aliana Miranova, daughter of Lord and Ruler Vayer doesn't want the Demense. She doesn't know what she wants, but she knows what she doesn't want ... power. Jarmin Maris, First Order Techton Donor no longer cares about tomorrow, only surviving another night. Together they find the true meaning of love, dedication and embracing the future, not running from it.
Equal Partners: More silliness, but this time not Avilan's fault. He's bequeathed his position as troublemaker to Mikhail Fatima, with awkward results, to say the least. Not one of my better pieces, even though I do happen to rather like Mikhail and Tzer. They're too cute together for words. Although the ending is worth the price of admission, if I do say so myself.
A Mare's Nest: Jarmin Maris is a good man, when he remembers to be himself. Aliana can't figure out why he keeps trying to be anyone else! Together they come to grips with their differences, and Jarmin's rowdy hair. More soap opera, but fun all the same.
The Rose Garden: Random stories of love, laughter, pain and rebirth. Everything and the kitchen sink ... well, the bathroom sink perhaps. Vingettes, storyettes and just plain sittin' around and swappin' stories. Vanesa and Sevrin back a cast of thousands, well, over a dozen in this ramble through "Why did ... ?" and "What happened to ... ?" This was me, the author, going through and answering many fan's questions, both private and public through the medium of a collection of storylets. Don't expect a lot of plot.
Archangel's Heir: Back to the soap opera. Dimitri is Vayer's son, but Diomid is his sire. Caught between desire and duty, Dimitri struggles to find himself, with the help of his nager, Mitka. Fantastic and wild, Mitka will steal your heart, as he leads Dimitri from childhood to Sergei's kador.
Autumn Roses: I was practicing flashbacks, OK. That's it. But I wanted a subject. The subject is love. Not the first flash of infatuation alone, or the catch of breath with love at first sight, but the whole story, from first remembered meeting to two people, so in love after so many years, they blaze with it. Arkay and Nashen remember their lives, loves, heartbreaks and triumphs together. And get into too much trouble in the process. Not really a story so much as a mural sized portrait of a relationship. Have fun.
Personally, I recommend starting with To Catch a Lord, Fire's Shadow and then Dreams Less Sweet. Or, if you have time for one long novel, A Time for Always. I would save the 'Rose' pieces for last, as other than A Rainbow of Roses, they aren't really stories, but rather linked bits and pieces of other stories.