Cover Image: Petrograd


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Member Reviews

I don't know if this is a fictional retelling or it is based on historical facts, I know that I appreciated the storytelling and it was a riveting and entertaining read.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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“I think it’s time for you to decide, Cleary. What are you really? A spy? A revolutionary? An opportunist? A reactionary? None of them? What are you, Cleary?” 

 My thanks to Oni Press for an advance review copy via NetGalley of the new edition of ‘Petrograd’ written by Philip Gelatt with art by Tyler Crook in exchange for an honest review. This updated edition has an afterword by noted military historian David R. Stone. 

This is a straightforward work of historical fiction presented in a graphic novel format. It is 1916 in Petrograd, Russia’s capital city, where corruption rules the day and conspiracy rules the night. For British intelligence officer Cleary, the Petrograd post is all about drinking and partying with the occasional report back to London.

When rumours circulate that Gregori Rasputin, the Tsarina’s most trusted adviser, is counseling the Tsar to make peace with Germany, Cleary is horrified to be tasked with ending that influence with extreme prejudice. So, the stage is set for the infamous assassination of the ‘mad monk’.

In the afterword Stone details which characters were based on historical figures. The main fictional character is Cleary, who was based on S.I.S. operative, Oswald Rayner. In the Preface Philip Gelatt wrote: “it felt more honest to fabricate a spy whole cloth than to give a real historical person a fictional backstory.”

The involvement of British Intelligence in Rasputin’s death has long been subject to rumour. As Stone concludes the story that Philip Gelatt and Tyler Crook have told here “lies between history and myth”. A bibliography of books and internet sources follows the afterword.

With respect to Tyler Crook’s artwork, the story unfolds, panel by panel, resembling a motion picture storyboard. It was executed with a restricted palette of sepia tones, which provided a serious, utilitarian atmosphere to the story.

Overall, a fascinating graphic novel that is bound to appeal to those interested in well researched historical fiction; especially of this turbulent period of Russian history.

I liked the new cover art depicting Rasputin and Cleary in the style of a decorative playing card.
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4.5 stars. Petrograd is a historical fiction graphic novel based on real-life events: the murder of Grigori Rasputin in St. Petersburg (Petrograd) and the story behind the conspiracy.

It is 1916, and it’s a hard life for lower-class people and peasants in Russia. Tsar Nicolas is absent because of the WWI. Tsarina trusts and protects Grigori Rasputin, a self-proclaimed holy man who helped her son. He gains a lot of power, and people believe he is the source of all their troubles.

The illustrations are excellent. They capture perfectly the harsh weather, tense atmosphere in Petrograd, and all emotions of the characters. The whole graphic novel has one style of illustrations, with a brown color that dominates.

Petrograd is a well-researched graphic novel. It is a true story of murder and espionage (with some minor adjustments). I would recommend it to those who are interested in history and like graphic novels.

Thanks to Oni Press for the ARC and this opportunity! This is a voluntary review, and all opinions are my own.
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This does not seem to have a link to download - this is a pity as I intended to read it today and publish a review prior to the publication on Tuesday.
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Petrograd is a fascinating and deeply engaging graphic novel about the assassination of Rasputin by British agents in 1916 (Spoiler alert - he was *not* easy to kill). Originally released in 2011, this reformat and re-release with new cover and introduction is due out in Jan 2022 from Oni Press. It's 272 pages and will be available in paperback format in this edition. 

I was admittedly unfamiliar with the exact political circumstances and background surrounding the end of the Romanov rule and the revolution in Russia and how they related to Raputin's assassination and death. This book does a good job of painting the broader strokes. The narrative seems fantastical, but apparently the high points are widely accepted if not completely proven. It's not always clear where the real history shades over into fiction in this volume, but it's certainly a riveting read. I found the afterword by eminent Russian historian Dr. David R. Stone enlightening although I was surprised to learn that a number of characters in the book which were so over the top as to be almost unbelievable were, in fact, historically accurate. 

The art by Tyler Crook suits the narrative very well and serves to fill in the narrative by Philip Gelatt. It's a successful partnership and the book manages to combine espionage, politics, revolution, and some murder and skullduggery without ever one time being pedantic or boring.

Four stars. Well done. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes
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Petrograd is the story of the murder of Rasputin by Russian nobles. Told through sepia-toned graphics and a fast-paced series of dialogues and events, the book delves into rumors that the British SIS and its agent Oswald Rayner (here called Clearly and given a backstory that complicates his involvement) in the plot to kill the Tsarina's advisor. The story is speculative, but well-told and bookended with statements about the facts of the murder by the author and by a historian of the period.
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Grigori Rasputin as the subject of a graphic novel would have been, given the public profile of "Russia's Greatest Love Machine", a matter debated more along the lines of when such a book would hit the shelves, as opposed to the existence of one. As colourful a life as Rasputin's, especially in the era in which it was lived, celebrated, venerated, and extinguished, is the perfect material for what is probably the boldest genre of fiction writing to exist.

Philip Gelatt uses what is probably the oldest trick in the book to telling a true story fictionally - by creating a character rather than twisting the actions of actual individuals. Cleary, the hero here, is an anti-spy, if there ever were such a thing: a man constantly second-guessing the nature of his work, motivated not by a desire to serve King and Country but by the distance working for the SIS in Petrograd affords him  from the Western Front.

If Cleary weren't as complicated as Gelatt makes him, the novel would be at a loss as to how to ground the events leading up to the fateful December night on which Rasputin was murdered - a protagonist one can somewhat relate to is easier to root for (no matter how much I might argue that that isn't a requirement), more so in a format where one can see the character on page/screen.

Gelatt uses Rasputin with economy, having him flit in and out of the pages, almost an allusion to the mystical aura of the monk.

I also quite enjoyed the use of brackets to denote how dialogue is translated, and the larger arc of the Revolution as it unfolds in the background - slowly, at times rudderless, but never quite countered with the ferocity the aristocracy and their backers would like. 

A word here for Tyler Crook, whose immersive illustrations bring Gelatt's world to life. There is a cinematic sense to scope and scale of the artwork. I don't recall being quite as awestruck in a while.

Thanks, Oni Press & NetGalley, for an ARC of the book.
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This is a spoiler free review.

Petrograd is an interesting historical graphic novel.  The story revolves around the end of Imperial Russia and the beginning of the Russian Revolution.  Rasputin is at the crux of the story.  The plot to murder Rasputin is the McGuffin that drives this story forward.  I enjoyed Petrograd but I felt like the story was slow moving at times.  The first chapter of the book is really long.  Once the plan to murder Rasputin is hatched the graphic novel becomes much more interesting and engaging.  From chapter two to the end of the book I couldn't put down Petrograd.

I loved how some of the nefarious characters in Petrograd who were involved in Rasputin's murder were actually involved in the murder in real life.  I never knew a cross dressing Prince had anything to do with Rasputin's murder. Prince Felix Yusupov was a funny loquacious character.  The scene where Prince Felix Yusupov is babbling during a party about the plot to murder Rasputin was so funny.  Then at the end of the graphic novel to learn that Prince Felix Yusupov really did talk a lot about the murder plot prior to killing Rasputin made that scene even more interesting to me.

The artwork in Petrograd is very stark and bleak.  You can feel how cold and hard life is in 1916 Russia.  I felt like I was freezing as I read this interesting graphic novel.

At the end of Petrograd there is a prologue with commentary by a Russian historian, Dr. David Stone which is fascinating.  After reading what Dr. Stone said about Prince Felix Yusupov and the British agents the character Cleary was based on, I'm tempted to read Petrograd again and see what else I've learned from Dr. Stone.  I really enjoy comparing and contrasting history with what was shown in the story of Petrograd.

I recommend this graphic novel to any history lovers and especially Russian history fans.

Stay awesome and keep reading!


Creative Team:

Written by Philip Gelatt

Illustrated by Tyler Crook
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A very well done historical graphic novel that revolves around a fictional British agent unwillingly involved in the assassination of Rasputin. The complex interactions of the many factions in Petrograd that winter are portrayed with a surprising amount of nuance. The same is true of the text and illustration making this book what it is. The story is more than simply the why and ,maybe, the what, of a slice of history. It also brings out the greyness of the morality of political actions on all sides. The Preface and Afterword are worth reading.
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While clearly the result of a lot of work on the part of both artist and illustrator, I found this book hard to get into. It seemed to require the reader to have a certain amount of prerequisite knowledge about the time period and the political machinations going on in order to keep up. I know what I remember from my history classes, but I picked up this book wanting to learn more. Unfortunately, I think it's aimed at people with a bit more background knowledge. Well-done, but not super accessible.
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Firstly I appreciated the extended commentary by Russian historian Dr David Stone. It brought to light a wide sense of what was happening around this time. This is a very well researched look into this part of history. There were several new facts I picked up along the way.

The story itself and how it progresses was very easy to follow and the dialogue between the characters at times was light and funny as well as being chilling. Knowing that these characters are based on people who were actually involved was crazy to think about when finishing the graphic novel.

The illustrations matched perfectly with the mood of this period of time and the story being told. The views of Petrograd and the details in the fighting and disturbing scenes was spot on.

I found this graphic novel very interesting to the point where the extra commentary made me want to keep on looking into more conspiracies.
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Thank you to Oni Press, NetGalley and Philip Galatt for allowing me to read this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Petrograd is a graphic novel based on life in the city of St Petersburg (known then as Petrograd), during WWI and the Russian Revolution. Whilst the plot against Grigori Rasputin is a significant section of the story, we are not actually accompanying Rasputin in his life, but the British secret agent who is planning the assassination. 
The assassination itself only takes up a few pages of the book, and we do not really learn much about Rasputin as a person within the pages. If you are looking for a book about Rasputin himself, this is not the one. 

This is speculative historical fiction centring on how involved the British were in the conspiracy to murder. In reality, the British were concerned that a possible truce between Russia and Germany would mean the German's could stop splitting their efforts between the Western and Eastern fronts. Thus freeing up their eastern army and bring their entire force westward. This would have been a disaster for the British to be fighting so many more men and may well have led to a different outcome of the war. The theory was that killing Rasputin would mean the Tsarina (who was championing a peace) would no longer have her adviser at her side. Rasputin was often blamed for manipulating her decisions and guiding her thoughts as he was suspected to have some supernatural power over her, this suspicion was helped by his ability to continually cure her sick son when he fell ill.

So were the British involved? Well there were significant rumours at the time about the British being involved in the conspiracy and many of the characters in this novel are real people, or based on real people. Unfortunately nothing has ever been proven, but there was a known SIS member present at the house where Rasputin was attacked, so it is very possible.

Back to the book, we follow Cleary (based on a real-life SIS agent) who is a morally grey character, he is acting as a spy in Russia because it means he doesn't have to be on the front line. We are never really given an in-depth look at Cleary's motivations other than this. Much of the novel is spent with Cleary, following his movements and that of his superiors and all of the backstabbing and lying involved within a secret government agency. He is also heavily involved with the revolutionaries, keeping an ear to the ground on their plans. Unfortunately Cleary is not a very interesting man, despite his spy lifestyle, I wonder if this is because he has cultivated a bland personality, in order to not stick out and be able to blend in, no matter which section of society he associates with. 

The illustrations are very good, the drawings of Petrograd itself I really loved. Sticking to a palette of black, white and various shades of red it makes the snowy, winter scenes look and feel stark and frigid.  
 I at times struggled telling a couple of the characters apart (lots of white males) when I could not see their clothes for reference in the panel. But not enough to worry me, as most of the time I could figure it out.

I think the real champion of this novel is the weather, the Russian winter is a character all of herself, making the starving peasants queuing for bread all the more piteous, the soldiers on their horses look more menacing and the city of Petrograd itself look beautiful and transcendent of these little human issues.
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This was definitely an interesting book. As someone who is half-Russian, I do not really know much of Russian history but this was a fun read. I don't know how accurate it is exactly but I enjoyed the characters and the art style looked pretty cool. Rasputin was definitely an interesting character as he is an interesting historical figure who is very much shrouded in mystery as well as controversy.
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This graphic novel explores the theory that the british intelligence had a hand in Rasputin's assassination. I really liked how the author and the illustrator were able to convey to the readers what was happening in Russia from all points of view. They were able to set the stage for everything they wanted to show and made us care about the outcome. And the story is fascinating; I was afraid I wouldn't like it that much when I realized the story is from the point of view of one of the british agents, but I really liked Cleary throughout the whole story. I also really enjoyed the intrigue and the maneuvers on display here, everyone had an ulterior for even the most trivial thing they said. And, as many people have pointed out, the art is beautiful. 

Thank you Netgalley, author, and publisher for the ARC.
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Petrograd by Philip Galett and illustrator Tyler Crook have created a really great glimpse into Russian history during WW1. Although we don't really learn anything about Rasputin, we learn about the circumstances that led to his murder and it's just as intriguing and interesting as any spy novel. We follow Cleary, a British agent from the spy agency and his eventual involvement in the plot to kill Rasputin as the UK were afraid that he was trying to establish peace between Russia and Germany. Throw in some Bolsheviks and the Okhrana (Russian secret police) and we have quite the story. Told in a clear and concise way, this graphic novel gave me just enough of a glimpse into Russian history that I'll want to do my own further reading to learn more. The artwork is stunning and detailed, it really captures the starkness of the times.
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Many thanks to Oni Press and NetGalley for sending me an ecopy of Petrograd in exchange for an honest review. 

This graphic novel is action packed, fast paced, and teeming with intrigues. There is not a single full moment. 

To start off, the art is amazing. It is intelligently suitable for the story, so props for that. 

Secondly, the story is intriguing, speculative and it offers an interesting possibility of what may have lead to the undoing of Rasputin. 

Thirdly, I loved how the characters were written. Gritty and hard. Reading about bisexual cross-dressing dukes and a quirky female Bolshevik 
instigator was indeed lots of fun. 

And lastly, the dialogue was intense. It kept me engaged and interested in the story.
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Petrograd tells the untold story of the international conspiracy behind the 1916 murder of Grigori Rasputin.

Wow.  I had no idea what to expect from this underated historical spy thriller (originally printed in 2011) other than what you've just read here, but I can honestly say that this one absolutely hit all of the right notes. 

Even though the book firmly and truthfully situates itself in a space between fact and fiction it's clear that the level of research done by Philip Gelatt for Petrograd is phenomenal! The details are plentiful and fleshed out making this not only a fun well thought out read but simultaneously educational. 

The art is awash in a sepia toned hue that lends itself to an early 20th century magic that wholeheartedly brings the streets, shadows and characters of Petrograd to life on the page. The character designs are pretty close to the actual historical figures and Rasputin himself is aptly intimidating!

Overall, if you're a fan of history, spies and stories with their feet firmly in reality then I would NOT miss this one. This is easily a contender for best read of the year for me. Get your pre-order in for the new paperback or hunt down the hardback now. 👍🏻
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If I'd enjoyed Clearly more as character, I would've liked this more, but I wasn't invested enough in him to care about this fate. The artwork of the snow scenes was beautiful, and Rasputin was fittingly terrible. A good read for history fans.
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I never thought I would enjoy Historical fiction in a graphic novel format. But you just made it possible. 
The story was engrossing and well-paced. Enjoyed how the book had the raw aspects while maintaining the twists to keep you hooked up with the book.

So I will recommend this book for people:
- who love historical fiction
- who think they are going in a reading slump & want to read something small but interesting
- who enjoy graphic novels
- who loved Persepolis
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The year is 1916. The fate of millions of people hangs in the balance, and in Russia’s capital city of Petrograd, corruption rules the day and conspiracy rules the night. But to British intelligence officer Cleary, the Petrograd post is all about relationships and carousing. He drinks and parties with the rich and powerful; he flirts and cavorts with workers and countrymen. His life is all late, drunken nights, bleary-eyed mornings, and the occasional report back to London. Cleary is a very interesting character and we follow him through everything that happens in Petrograd in that period. We get the story from his point of view. 

Petrograd is like a tinder box ready to be set ablaze, and there are dark clouds on the horizon for Cleary. We have some very interesting political and social aspects, rumors and Rasputin. The setting and the plot is very interesting. I love historical fiction that makes you want to read more about the real events. This is what this book has done for me. I am very curious now, I want to find out more and I plan to read some non-fiction on the events from this book. There is a bibliography at the end that helps with finding out some great resources (I appreciate when historical fiction books have this). 

The art is very important in this graphic novel. The colours and the style are such at important part of the story. It helps with the atmosphere and the setting. 

I highly recommend this graphic novel! I think it is masterfully done and I cannot wait to get to my non-fiction books.
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