The Beauteous, the Ferocious, the Great – Olha, Kniahynia of Kyivan Rus

“She was called ‘light of salvation’ by the great Rus chronicler Nestor, ‘wise’ by history, ‘cunning’ by the people and ‘holy’ by the church,” wrote the author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch of Olha, a medieval ruler of Kyiv. Written more than a century apart, two fictional accounts of Olha, Bloody Wedding in Kyiv by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and The Kniahynia’s Comb by Petro Haivoronskyi, are presented in a new Sova Books publication. These fascinating fictionalised accounts explore facets of the ruthless ruler’s personality.

Bloody Wedding in Kyiv

The Kniahynia took her revenge on the Derevlians with the most intricate cruelty, which since then has been remembered by all the Slavic peoples for more than one thousand years.

In a sprawling medieval realm, the icy consort of a Kyivan ruler makes a stand against a neighbouring tribe that has rebelled against her husband’s authority. Olha of Kyiv is a ravishing beauty with the capacity to enthral and subjugate Kyiv’s enemies, among them the bold Derevlian Prince Mak. When Kyiv prepares for a strange marriage of bitter foes, a besotted Prince Mak discovers the unforseen danger of mixing love with hatred, as grief and powerlust unleash Olha’s thirst for blood.

The Kniahynia’s Comb

For him she was not the great Kyivan Kniahynia Olha, a woman respected and feared by the whole Rus. He saw Prekrasa, a pretty girl from a far-flung picturesque village.

Reflecting on the origins of the historical Kniahynia Olha of Kyiv, The Kniahynia’s Comb portrays ruthless Olha as a woman of enduring loyalty. From her youth, when she was a young Pagan girl known as Prekrasa, Olha has been forced to dance between the forces that control the viking-founded throne of Kyiv. Presented with a modern twist that enfolds the search for archaeological evidence, this tale rekindles the mystic reputation of Ukraine’s first Christian monarch.

 

Illustration from The Radziwiłł Chronicle

Illustration from The Radziwiłł Chronicle

 

This unique book will leave readers staggered by Olha’s enigmatic blend of devotion and ferocity. Currently, Bloody Wedding in Kyiv is published only in its electronic version and available on Amazon (click here to see a free book preview). It is elegantly presented, thanks to our designer Volodymyr Zavhorodniy and the book cover designer and illustrator Nikola Nevenov. The illustrations incorporated in this book were extracted from The Radziwiłł Chronicle, an ancient East Slavic illuminated manuscript. Dated to the 15th century and shrouded in many mysteries, the Chronicle provides a graphic record of Olha’s rise to power.

Illustration from The Radziwiłł Chronicle

Illustration from The Radziwiłł Chronicle