top of page
Legends of the Five Directions 2

Listen to an excerpt

The Vermilion Bird

C. P. Lesley


Maria Kolycheva has spent most of the last three years wishing herself out of her in-laws’ household. So she should be relieved that her father has finally found a new match for her. Instead, he has picked the most annoying man in creation—not even a Russian, but a Tatar sultan who takes it for granted that she will ride at his side, read what he gives her, and advise him on the ins and outs of the Moscow court. And where her first husband had minimal interest in women—or at least in Maria—the new one has a healthy respect for the joys of marriage and no qualms whatsoever about seeking them outside it.

Her husband can’t decide what to make of this beautiful redhead who seems both untouched and touchy. Doesn’t she understand that a princess needs more than embroidery to survive? In the assassination-filled politics of the sixteenth-century Russian court, this unlikely pair struggles to find a way to get along before the undercurrents of rebellion sweep them away.




Buy from

To read a preview, click on the cover image.


The Vermilion Bird vividly envisions the culture clash between Russians and Tatars in the sixteenth century. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this glimpse into a seldom explored corner of history, while fans of romance will delight in the unlikely love that blooms between a bluff Tatar prince and his scheming Russian bride—who is also the stepdaughter of his former lover.”

—Linnea Hartsuyker, author of The Half-Drowned King


“In sixteenth-century Moscow, only a hairsbreadth separates peace from rebellion. C. P. Lesley brings this remote time and place into our grasp in The Vermilion Bird. In a rich portrayal rooted in the strange truth of the world of Russians, Tatars, and the intrigues of court life, Lesley weaves together characters real and imagined against the backdrop of romance, fear, and lust for power that characterized court life in sixteenth-century Russia.”

—Laura Morelli, author of The Gondola Maker and The Painter’s Apprentice

“What more could a reader want except further adventures, which are heralded by the advent of another animal messenger?”

—Ann M. Kleimola, professor emerita of history, University of Nebraska

“The characters of Nasan, Daniil, and the others leap off the page. Perhaps most intriguing is the portrayal of the clash between the two vibrant but alien cultures of the Russians and the Tatars—frequently at war, occasionally bound by an uneasy and watchful peace.”

—Ann Swinfen, author of Voyage to Muscovy

bottom of page