The novel Commissar spans the vast territories of the former Russian Empire, from Vladivostok in the far east to Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) in the west; and from Arkhangelsk near the Arctic Circle to Baku on the Caspian Sea in the south.
The Russian Empire covered an area of nearly nine million square miles (almost 2.5 times the size of the US), but was very sparsely populated, with only two cities surpassing one million inhabitants — Moscow and Petrograd. Most of the roads throughout the empire were unpaved and unserviced, leaving the rivers and the railways as the most reliable transportation routes. The recently-finished Trans-Siberian Railway took twenty-five years to build and stretched almost six thousand miles from Vladivostok to Moscow.
Before the 1917 revolution, the Romanovs ruled more than 140 million people and more than 180 ethnic groups speaking over 100 different languages. In fact, less than half of the population of the empire were ethnic Russians, and Tsar Nicholas II himself had barely any Russian blood in him, thanks to his family’s centuries-old practice of marrying Western royalty.
Of course, as vast as Russia is, it is not the only country where the action of Commissar takes place. You’ll find some of the characters in New York, Washington, DC, and in London.