Catherine II of Russia was the most remarkable monarch of the eighteenth century. New York Times bestselling historian Ian Grey paints an illuminating portrait of an enigmatic woman of compelling charm and elegance. She had a prodigious appetite for work, great curiosity, and boundless ambition and vanity, and she was notorious for the number of her lovers. Her prodigal expenditures and patronage of the arts made her reign an era of splendor while her foreign policy and conquests carried Russian power and prestige to new heights. She cast a spell over most of her contemporaries in Russia and in Western Europe, and the spell has lingered. Here, in this book, is the dramatic story of an obscure German princess, without beauty or special advantage, but with courage, charisma, and determination, who became one of the arbiters of the affairs of Europe and renowned in history.