Sonja’s Run begins at a Christmas party given by Tsar Nicholas I in 1852, where Sonja Sankova, a beautiful half-Russian, half-Chinese poet, punches Colonel Peter Koslov—the notorious “Colonel Cut” who boasts that his necklace is made of ears taken from serfs.
Sonja escapes from St. Petersburg with her dying father, also a poet, who wishes to be buried in his birthplace in the Urals. At the same time, American Jack Sandt, a pioneering photographer, comes to Russia to take daguerreotype images of the people there. Soon Jack learns of Sonja’s flight and pursuit by Koslov and his band of fierce soldiers known as the Wolfpack. He and Sonja join forces, fall in love, and marry. After Sonja’s father dies, she and Jack travel farther east, always keeping one step ahead of Koslov and his Wolfpack. They are separated once again when Sonja is captured by a cruel Kyrgyz warrior named Ali, who uses her as bait to trap Koslov, who had murdered his cousin. Jack organizes a rescue, only to see her captured again, this time by the Wolfpack. Everything leads to a confrontation on a mountain where Koslov has gone to gather rubies for a new throne for the tsar.
Sonja’s Run is very much in the tradition of old-fashioned adventure stories such as King Solomon’s Mines, but with more sex, blood, and gore. It makes for some very exciting and suspenseful reading, and Hoyt’s descriptions of the mountains, rivers, lakes, and forests of Russia east of the Urals are beautiful. I would recommend the book to anyone who likes a good adventure, and especially to people who like to read about Russia.