Maria Vasilyevna Semyonova (Rus. ? , 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.
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. 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.
- , Vedun (1985). Novella - Historical fiction, set in Viking Age Scandinavia
- ? , Orlinaâ kru?a) (1989). Novella - Historical fiction, set in Viking Age Scandinavia
- Pelko and Wolves ( ? , Pelko i volki) (1992) - Historical fiction, set in Medieval Rus
- The Wolfhound series: - Fantasy fiction
- Wolfhound (, Volkodav) (1995)
- Wolfhound: The Right for a Fight (. , Volkodav. Pravo na poedinok) (1996)
- Wolfhound: Stone of Rage (. ?-, Volkodav. Istovik-kamen?) (2000)
- Wolfhound: Sign of the Way (. ?, Volkodav. Znamenie puti) (2003)
- Wolfhound: Emerald Mountains (. ?, Volkodav. Samocvetnye gory) (2003)
- The Nine Worlds ( , Devât? mirov) (1996) - Fantasy fiction
- Two Tempests ( , Dve grozy) (1996) - Fantasy fiction
- Valkyrie: The One I Always Wait For (: , ? ? , Val?kiriâ: Tot, kogo â vsegda ?du) (1996) - Historical fiction, set in Viking Age Scandinavia
- A Duel with Dragon ( , Poedinok so Zmeem) (1996) - Historical fiction, set in Viking Age Scandinavia
- Swans' Road ( , Lebedinaâ doroga) (1996) - Historical fiction, set in Viking Age Scandinavia and in Medieval Rus
- Skunk series: - Detectives
- The Same Men and Skunk ( ? , Te ?e i Skuns) (1997, with Ye. Milkova, V. Voskoboinikov)
- The Same Men and Skunk 2 ( ? -- 2, Te ?e i Skuns - 2) (1999, with V. Voskoboinikov, F. Razumovski)
- Order (, Zakaz) (1999, with K. Kulchitski)
- Sword of the Dead (? , Znak Sokola, AKA ?, Me? mërtvyh) (1998, with Andrey Konstantinov) - Historical fiction, set in Medieval Rus
- , Prestuplenie bez sroka davnosti (1999, with F. Razumovski) - Detectives
- ? , Vkus krovi (1999, with Ye. Milkova) - Detectives
- , Magiâ uspeha (2000, with F. Razumovski) - Detectives
- ? ?, Dâdâ Le?a (2000, with Ye. Milkova) - Detectives
- ? ?, Okol?covannye zlom (2000, with F. Razumovski) - Detectives
- Kudeyar series (with Felix Razumovsky): - Detectives
- Kudeyar: The Crimson Flower (. , Kudeâr. Alen?kij cveto?ek) (2001)
- Kudeyar: The Tower of Babel (. , Kudeâr. Vavilonskaâ ba?nâ) (2006)
- ?, Privy?ka ?it? (2005) - sci-fi
- Dark Grey Wolf series (with Dmitry Tedeyev): - Fantasy fiction
- Where Forest Doesn't Grow (, , Tam, gde les ne rastet) (2007)
- Dark Grey Wolf ( ?, Busyj volk) (2007)
- Dark Grey Wolf: Birch Bark Book ( ?. ? , Busyj volk. Berestânaâ kniga) (2009)
- Mistake-2012 series (with Felix Razumovsky): - Detectives
- Game For No Sake (? ?, Igra nipo?em) (2008)
- Joker (, D?oker) (2009)
- New Game ( ?, Novaâ igra) (2010)
- Rough Miser ( ?, Mizer v?ernuû) (2011)
Short story collections
- Swans Fly Away ( ?, Lebedi uletaût) (1989) - Historical fiction, set in Viking Age Scandinavia
- With Vikings for Svalbard (? , S vikingami na Sval?bard) (1996) - Historical fiction, set in Viking Age Scandinavia
- A Lame Smith ( , Hromoj kuznec) (2001) - Historical fiction, set in Viking Age Scandinavia
- ?, Novye legendy (2004, with V. Rybakov) - Fantasy fiction
Uncollected short stories.
- , Dva korolâ (1996) - Historical fiction, set in Viking Age Scandinavia
- ? , Sol?vejg i my vse (1999) - Historical fiction, set in Viking Age Scandinavia
- ? ?, Kubik iz krasnoj plastmassy (2008). Collection
- We, Slavs! (, ?!, My, slavâne!) (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