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This supernatural suspense thriller crosses several genres--espionage, geopolitics, religion, fantasy. But like the chicken crossing the road, it takes quite a while to get to the other side. En route, Tim Powers covers a lot of territory: Turkey, Armenia, the Saudi Arabian desert, Beirut, London, Paris, Berlin, and Moscow. Andrew Hale, an Oxford lecturer who first entered Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service as an 18-year-old schoolboy, is called back to finish a job that culminated in a deadly mission on Mount Ararat after the end of World War II. Now it's 1963, and cold war politics are behind the decision to activate Hale for another attempt to complete Operation Declare and bring down the Communist government before Moscow can harness the powerful, other-worldly forces concentrated on the summit of the mountain, supposed site of the landing of Noah's ark. James Theodora is the über-spymaster whose internecine rivalry with other branches of the Secret Intelligence Service traps Hale between a rock and a hard place, literally and figuratively. There's plenty of mountain and desert survival stuff here, a plethora of geopolitical and theological history, and a big serving of A Thousand and One Nights, which is Hale's guide to the meteorites, drogue stones, and amonon plant, which figure in this complicated tale. There's a love story, too, and a bizarre twist on the Kim Philby legend that posits both Philby and Hale as the only humans who can tame the powers of the djinns who populate Mount Ararat.
This is an easy book to get lost in, and Powers's many fans will have a field day with it. The rest of us may have a harder time. --Jane Adams --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Powers (The Anubis Gates, etc.), known hitherto as an expert fantasy writer, has created a mind-bending mix of genres here, placing his gifts for extreme speculative fiction in service of a fantastical spy story involving rivalries between no fewer than four intelligence services: British, French, Russian and American. In 1963, Andrew Hale is summoned to reenter the secret service. He has a past embracing anti-Nazi activities in Occupied ParisAwhere he fell in love with Elena, a Spanish-born Communist operativeAand a spectacularly unsuccessful mission on Mount Ararat in 1948, the purpose of which only gradually becomes clear. Powers posits that the mountain, as the speculative last home of Noah's Ark, is also the dwelling place of many djinns, supernatural beings that often take the form of rocks in the Arabian deserts. The father of British spy Kim Philby, a noted Arabist, had been a keen observer of these phenomena and taught his son about them. Now it seems that a supernatural power, manifesting itself as an old woman, is safeguarding the Soviet Union, and if fragments of a destroyed djinn can be introduced into Moscow, they could destroy her protection and make the Soviet Union susceptible to normal human laws. This is Hale's mission. In 1948 it failed, and most of his commando force was destroyed. On his return 15 years later, with Philby, Hale succeeds in shooting fragments of djinn into Philby, who then returns to Moscow. Upon Philby's death many years later, the Soviet Union duly collapses. The styles of spy fiction, with dense counterplotting and extremes of caution, and the spectacular supernatural scenes simply do not blend. It's all offbeat and daringly imaginative, but ultimately rather foolish entertainment. (Jan. 9) Forecast: This original novel, despite its strengths, is unlikely to satisfy fully fans of either spycraft or fantasyAand such is the pitfall of genre-bending. A 6-city author tour plus vigorous promotion online and off could give the book some turbo power, though.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Declare" so intrigued me that I not only re-read it a year later, but, inspired by Powers' epigrams from Kipling's "Kim," went back to read that as well. Read morePublished on April 28 2004
This is my favorite Tim Powers book, and Powers is one of my favorite authors. Other than an aborted attempt to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I had never read a... Read morePublished on Feb. 18 2004
Tim Powers has earned his well-deserved reputation in science fiction. He is well respected in the field (by other authors) and, in my experience, deserves to be more widely known... Read morePublished on Aug. 1 2003 by Mark Horne
Declare is Tim Powers' best novel in years. The book is based around the real activities of Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, and other notable spies and double agents of the World War II... Read morePublished on July 16 2003 by Joel Bartley
Tim Powers' Declare is an amazing novel: it's imaginative, unique and compelling. And, it's probably like nothing you've read before. Read morePublished on June 19 2003 by John Thomson
The most consistently entertaining clever fantasy confections I've read in years! One of, if not the best of Powers. (And no one gets maimed! Read morePublished on April 22 2003 by rash67
I liked the concepts in this book a lot. The writing is also good. But the progression of the plot was far too gradual, and I gave up relatively early on.Published on March 25 2003
I loved this one, and often had trouble putting it down to go to work, for instance. Yes, it's long, yes, it's complex, but what a magnificent puzzle, and what a fabulous use of... Read morePublished on Jan. 21 2003 by Kiwi Carlisle
When a Powers book succeeds, the reader has a sudden feeling of revelation, as in "Oh! THAT explains Las Vegas!! Read morePublished on Nov. 30 2002 by S. Svetitsky