A white and gold DC-10 declares an emergency and lands at Baltimore-Washington International. Armed Swiss Guardsmen in battledress form a defense perimeter around the papal aircraft, refusing access to U.S. authorities. A bomb has been discovered onboard, and the satellite and inertial navigation systems have been cleverly sabotaged. Over the Chesapeake Bay, following a spectacular explosion, Coast Guard helicopters circle the wreckage of a high performance Cigarette boat. A ruthless manhunt spreads northward into New England, and the FBI exchanges fire at the U.S.-Canadian border with a team of hastily assembled British Intelligence agents.
Royal Navy Harrier fighter-bombers carry a man and woman across Northern Canada through a fierce air battle off the coast of Labrador. The Harriers race eastward, refueling from British carriers stationed on their flight path across the Atlantic. Brendan Mallory and Alexandra Romanov must reach Moscow despite the fierce opposition of the most powerful nation on earth. Their allies are few. The British Prime Minister, the President of Russia, besieged in the Kremlin, and the Pope.
Britain, weak, but stubborn and contrary, refuses to support her old friends as they wait to dismember Russia. The U.S., France and Germany are after Hitler's vast dream. Russia will become a vast client state, providing the raw materials and oil to power the New World Order. Siberia will be annexed to the United States, an old fantasy which now may well come true.
It is the final, desperate gamble of the Russian President. The country is near collapse. In Red Square the fascist browns and communist Reds clash in violent demonstrations against the powerless democratic government. President Viktor Bruslov has made a stunning, but secret appeal to Rome, for it is there that the popes, since 1918, acting with the consent of Britain, the Soviet Union and the Unitied States, have had control of the greatest secret of the twentieth century, the secret that may save Russia. Alexandra is Russia's last hope, for she is the great-great-granddaughter of Tsar Nicholas II. So well has the secret been kept, that the governments involved have practically forgotten it. The Anastasia legend was true after all, but not in the way the world has known it, and seven popes have prepared for this moment, at the end of the century. Brendan Cardinal Mallory has been charged by the Holy Father with the hopeless task of taking her into Russia. Mallory, former British soldier and now the youngest cardinal in the Church, sees nothing but death at the end of it all, and possibly the loss of his immortal soul. He has had to take up again the life he had fled, and must face spiritual perils for which he is unready. But he must go on.
Because he knows all that the Pope knows, all that has been closely guarded for decades in the Vatican archives. Alexandra Romanov must be crowned Tsarina of All the Russias, or the suffering nation will not endure. All the forces and events of the century are emerging, focusing upon this inexperienced, frightened but immensely capable young woman, for it is only she who can unite Russia. And what will unfold in the North Sea, the Baltic, St. Petersburg, the Valdai Hills in northwest Russia, Moscow, and finally in the heart of the Kremlin, has been placed in Mallory's hands. The stakes are high, immeasurably high, for what happens in Russia will shape the twenty-first century, will determine the future of mankind.