Girl Genius
Girl Genius

Margarella Selnikov was the wife/widow of Rudolf Selnikov and "Auntie" to Violetta. When we first see her, she is on the run. By her last appearance, she is dead.


As Agatha travels to Paris on the Wyrm of Limerick, Lady Selnikov bursts into her private railway cabin, begging for protection against unknown assailants. Due to the Sturmvoraus house sigil on her necklace, Krosp is wary of her, openly suspecting that the newcomer may bring unwanted guests such as Smoke Knights or Wulfenbach forces upon them. Once Ardsley Wooster joins them in the cabin, he quickly identifies her and goes on to say that she is on the run from the Knights of Jove after the actions of her husband led to his death (for somewhat ambiguous values of "death" ) and disavowal from the cabal. Before long, it is proven that she is indeed being hunted by Smoke Knight assassins, all of whom are thwarted by the Corbettite Monks running the train.

However, more dangerous pursuers immediately assault the Wyrm, one of whom loudly announces that the real reason Lady Selnikov is being hunted is that she stole "a book and key" from, apparently, Martellus von Blitzengaard. An army of Swartzwalders attack the train, forcing a hurried evacuation. In the process, Lady Selnikov proves her ruthlessness, gunning down a monk who tries to prevent her from recovering the satchel containing the aforementioned stolen items. The Wyrm's passengers take refuge at the nearest Corbettite Depot Fortress where she immediately forces another luckless Monk to take her down into the Depot's vaults, revealing in the process that gaining access to said vaults was her plan all along.

She is not seen again until Agatha and Co. descend into the vaults, where they find her dead body being watched over by her now-wounded former hostage. He reports that she did not get around to revealing what she was looking for, but it was clearly not The Winslow, which is what she found occupying her targeted vault. Commencing a frantic search through the other vaults, she released The Beast, with immediately fatal results. Agatha also learns that the book Margarella stole was the same Van Rijn notebook that she (Agatha) once had brief possession of, last seen in Sturmhalten with Moxana the Muse. The book has at some point acquired numerous additional pages filled with material written by other Sparks.

Much later in Paris, Agatha finally makes time to study the notebook and determines that Lady Selnikov was likely searching for Prende's Chronometric Lantern, a semi-mythical device which Van Rijn reportedly created to rescue the Storm King from a castle where "the sun never set" (ie, something that might be used to break the time-bubble around Mechanicsburg.) Agatha also eventually reveals that the aforementioned key is just that: a fairly large and ornate metal construction, also created by Van Rijn, which is used to access the man's personal hidey-hole inside the subterranean Immortal Library of the Grand Architect, of which he was the founder.

Her Family[]

Lady Selnikov has professed her loyalty to poor sweet Tarvek, at least as an alternative to Martellus, but it has been made clear that nothing she says should be taken at face value.

Her relationship with her husband was likely not a good one, as the prospect of having even his wife not associating with him after being resurrected is enough to counteract all the loss of social standing he would suffer from having the bylaw against resurrection of nobles being broken.

The Name Game[]

The name of this character is not consistent throughout the on-line version of the story; it varies between Margarella and Margolotta.[3] However, the name of this character has been corrected to Margarella throughout the print volume in which she is introduced, The Beast of the Rails, so it seems the explanation of Lady Selnikov's mutable first name was authorial inattention on the part of the Foglios.

As of mid July 2023, her name still hasn't been corrected in the online version of the story.

Unanswered Questions and Speculation[]

Some fan still have nagging doubts about the story told by the monk who was taken hostage by Lady Selnikov. Is it complete? Is it true at all? If it is accurate, then perhaps there are things the monk didn't know about, such as the possibility that Lady Selnikov transferred her mind into another entity before she was killed. Even if Lady Selnikov is as dead as she seems to be, there are still questions that it would be nice to have answers to:

  • Was Lady Selnikov working on her own or with/for someone else? (An official of the Immortal Library claims that she was in theory working with them...)
  • What was her plan? (...and was supposed to bring the book to Paris, where it could be used to search the sealed-off Corbettite vaults in the Library, not the active ones in St. Szpac, in order to find Prende's Lantern.)
  • Where is the key? (It is eventually revealed she was carrying it along with the notebook, and Agatha took possession of it at some point while with the Corbettites.)

The Novels[]

She is yet to appear in person in the print novels, but a footnote in one of them[4] comments that she has a reputation as an energetic and peripatetic adventuress who spends a great deal of time away from Sturmhalten and her husband, but whose evident activities with him when at home apparently leave him with both "physical fitness" and "a perpetually hunted look".

The Works[]

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Lady Selnikov, as seen in The Works.

Long before her arrival in canon, she was included (as Lady Selnikov) in The Works card game; her look there is stereotypically villainous and vampy, complete with fur coat, riding crop and long black cigarette-holder.

Her epithet is Villain. The instruction is to put the card in the Score Pile with the fewest points; a mild leveling effect, possibly even benefiting the player, if they are trailing.


  1. By convention of the Fifty Families, the reanimated are considered legally dead
  2. Inferable from Rudolf Selnikov's complaint of having no heirs.
  3. She was introduced as Lady Margarella Selnikov by Wooster. Later she was called "Auntie Margolotta" by Violetta. Later still, she was again referred to as Lady Margarella by Agatha and a Smoke Knight assassin. (Although he was interrupted, it is clear he was starting to say "Lady Margarella," not "Lady Margolotta.") The theory that Margolotta was a family nickname was dashed when, even later in the story, some Sparks pursuing her also referred to her as Lady Margolotta Selnikov.
  4. Agatha H. and the Siege of Mechanicsburg, p. 97, note 31