Maria Semyonova

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Maria Semyonova (Russian: Мария Семёнова)
Мария Семёнова.jpg
Born (1958-11-01) 1 November 1958 (age 58)
Leningrad, Soviet Union
Nationality Russian
Genre Fantasy, History, Poetry

Maria Vasilyevna Semyonova (Rus. Мария Васильевна Семёнова, also spelled Semenova; born November 1, 1958 in Leningrad, Soviet Union) is a Russian writer of fantasy and historical fiction and a poet. Most of her books are based on Slavic mythology, as well as on Russian and Norse pagan traditions. She's best known for Wolfhound (Volkodav in Russian) fantasy series, that was adapted into 2007 film Wolfhound of The Grey Hound Clan. Semyonova is also known for her numerous translations of western fantasy books into the Russian language.


Semyonova graduated from Leningrad State University of Aerospace Instrument Making and worked as a computer specialist in the 1980s in a research institute.

From her childhood, Maria was interested in Medieval Rus, its traditions and mythology, as well as Viking Age. Her early books, written in Soviet era, were historical fiction about Vikings, medieval Russians and Finns, usually set in Scandinavia or Novgorod. She wrote about such historical persons as Ragnar Lodbrok, Aella of Northumbria, Rurik, Oleg and Vadim, among others. However, most of these books were not published until 1996, as Perestroika-era publishers were not interested in historical fiction.

After the fall of Soviet Union, Semyonova abandoned her computer work and became literary translator from English, working for Severo-Zapad. She translated several books by Robert E. Howard, Robin Hobb, L. Sprague de Camp, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, among others. This is where she discovered Western fantasy and became fond of it. However, she was disappointed with a wave of Russian fantasy writers becoming copycats of their western colleagues. Semenova decided to write a fantasy novel based exclusively on Russian tradition and mythology. "If you wanted fantasy, you get it. But why do you prefer the chewed-out Tolkien-esque sandwich, while our richest native tradition stays forgotten?" - she would recall.[1]

In 1995, Wolfhound was released. The book, published by Severo-Zapad, was an immediate success, it spanned a series of sequels, a multi-author project, a film and a TV series. Often compared to Robert E. Howard Conan series, Wolfhound was intended as Conan's counterpart: a protector of the weak rather than adventurer.[2] The books also included a large amount of poetry by Semenova, each chapter was accompanied by a verse. Several other Semenova books, including Dark Grey Wolf series, are set in the same universe with Wolfhound. Success of her fantasy novels allowed Semenova to publish her earlier historical books as well.

Maria Semyonova also wrote several lesser-known political detective books, together with Felix Razumovsky and various other co-authors. She also wrote a popular history encyclopedia "We, Slavs!" about the culture and traditions of Russian paganism.

Semyonova is an amateur aikido fighter.


Fantasy fiction:

  • The Wolfhound series
    • Волкодав (Wolfhound, 1995)
    • Волкодав. Право на поединок (Wolfhound: The Right for a Fight, 1996)
    • Волкодав. Знамение пути (Wolfhound: Sign of the Way, 2003)
    • Волкодав. Самоцветные горы (Wolfhound: Emerald Mountains, 2003)
    • Волкодав. Истовик-камень (Wolfhound: Stone of Rage, 2000)
  • Dark Grey Wolf series, together with Dmitry Tedeyev
    • Бусый Волк (Dark Grey Wolf, 2007)
    • Бусый волк. Берестяная книга (Dark Grey Wolf: Birch Bark Book, 2009)
  • Там, где лес не растет (Where Forest Doesn't Grow, 2007)
  • Девять миров (The Nine Worlds, 1996)
  • Две грозы (Two Tempests, 1996)

Historical fiction:

  • Set in Viking Age Scandinavia:
    • Лебеди улетают (Swans Fly Away, short story collection, 1989)
    • С викингами на Свальбард (With Vikings for Svalbard, short story collection, 1996)
    • Валькирия: Тот, кого я всегда жду (Valkyrie: The One I Always Wait For, 1996)
    • Поединок со Змеем (A Duel with Dragon, 1996)
    • Хромой кузнец (A Lame Smith, short story collection, 2001)
  • Set in Medieval Rus:
    • Пелко и волки (Pelko and Wolves, 1992)
    • Лебединая дорога (Swans' Road, 1996) - set in both Scandinavia and Rus
    • Меч мёртвых (Sword of the Dead, 1998) with Andrey Konstantinov.


  • Kudeyar series - with Felix Razumovsky
    • Кудеяр. Аленький цветочек (Kudeyar: The Crimson Flower, 2001)
      • Кудеяр. Вавилонская башня (Kudeyar: The Tower of Babel, 2006)
  • Skunk series (with various co-authors)
    • Те же и Скунс (The Same Men and Skunk, 1997)
    • Те же и Скунс — 2 (The Same Men and Skunk 2, 1999)
    • Заказ (Order, 1999)
  • Mistake-2012 series - with Felix Razumovsky
    • Игра нипочем (Game For No Sake, 2008)
    • Джокер (Joker, 2009)
    • Новая игра (New Game, 2010)
    • Мизер вчерную (Rough Miser, 2011)


  • Мы, славяне! (We, Slavs!, 1997) - a popular history encyclopedia.



  • 1989 The best children's book for Swans Fly Away
  • 1996 Belayev Prize for Wolfhound
  • 2005 Aelita Award
  • 2007 Mir Fantastiki Best Fantasy Award for Where Forest Doesn't Grow
  • 2008 Roscon Award as Writer of the Year


External links[edit]