Uprooted from his home near the Rhine River and taken to a hostile land on the Russian steppes, Christian comes up against adversity and setbacks as he attempts to make a new life for himself. His efforts at enlisting a blacksmith and Gypsies to help a Russian girl sold into servitude put all their lives in deadly peril.
Meanwhile, Catherine, in her new role as empress, is surrounded by court intrigue and secret plots to overthrow her; rumors of her lover’s infidelity; an army of wild Cossacks and escaped serfs thundering down on Saratov intent on burning the city, sacking Moscow and locking the empress in a convent.
Can Catherine stay safe from those who would overthrow - or kill her? Can Christian protect the Russian girl - and find a way to help his family face a winter without food?