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Declare [Audio CD]

Tim Powers , Simon Prebble
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 2011

There are histories beneath history. Tim Powers, one of the most brilliant and audacious talents in contemporary fiction, casts an eerie light on the terrible events that made the twentieth century and reveals what the Cold War was really about.Declare

After a ten-year hiatus, British academic Andrew Hale is abruptly called back into the Great Game by a terse, cryptic telephone message. Born to "the trade" and recruited at the age of seven by a most secret Secret Service, Hale, in 1963, is forced to confront again the nightmare that has haunted his adult life: a lethal unfinished operation code-named Declare.

Two decades earlier, as a young double agent infiltrating the Soviet spy network in Nazi-occupied Paris, Hale first encountered the incomprehensible rhythms of an invisible world. And from that moment on nothing was ever safe and knowable again. There also, his life became eternally linked with two others' lives that would recurrently intersect his at its most dangerous junctures: his "comrade operative," the fiery and beautiful Communist agent Elena Teresa Ceniza-Bendiga, the object of Hale's undying love, and Kim Philby, the mysterious traitor to the British cause...and perhaps to all humanity. Together they form an unlikely trimuvirate with one shared destiny: Declare.

But the Great Game is greater and far more terrible than Andrew Hale ever imagined. There is another, larger war raging unseen all around him, a cataclysmic secret conflict masked by a "Cold War" of national ideologies. And it is drawing Hale, Elena, and Philby inexorably toward world-shattering consequences on a Biblical mountain in the Middle East...and to a hideous feast of broken minds, destroyed lives, and devoured souls.

The remarkable imagination of Tim Powers has wedded John le Carré with Clive Barker to create something unlike anything previously contained between book covers. A sweeping epic adventure, a love story, a revelation, a nightmare, it is our past and our world as something other...Declare!

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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From Amazon

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.

From Publishers Weekly

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best of Powers's Worst Work Dec 15 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Tim Powers has a tendency to lash many of his fantasies so securely to known historical facts that the plot and the fantastical elements get lost in a welter of truthful, but exhausting, detail. The classic example of this is The Stress of Her Regard, in which a kind of vampire story is drowned in more than anyone needs to know about the Romance poets. On the other hand, when Powers is willing to freestyle a little more, he is capable of great flights of imagination such as those that powered his modern fantasy Last Call and his immemorial classic The Anubis Gates.
Declare is one of Powers's history-bound fantasies, in which Powers challenges himself to create a fantasy in a known historical subject without contradicting any of the historically estalbished facts. However, he avoids many of the pitfalls into which he has stumbled in his prior forays down this road. Rather than wearing his readers down with true biographical details the only real significance of which is how cleverly Powers works them into his own story, he seems to select details for their objective value as points of interest for the reader. Here, we are immersed in details drawn from the world of international espionage from World War II to the middle of the Cold War. Instead of seeing how Powers can work the fact that two historical figures stayed at hotels ten miles away from each other on a certain day into a story, we get to see his protagonist using interesting espionage techniques -- telegraphing information to headquarters from radios hidden in occupied Paris, forming groups of Bedouin nomads for spying missions. This keeps the story moving.
And Powers does a better job integrating the fantastical elements of the story, too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic June 18 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I had a small idea of what i was in for after reading the reviews for this book. I had no idea how well researched Tim Powers was on everything. I highly recommend reading the notes about the book afterward, it is incredible how he uses so much real history and just how little he fills in the gaps with absurd fiction. And even the fantasy part is based on legends of Saudi Arabia, I'm talking about the Djjin, which are demon creatures.
The demons in this story are not your horrorific demons with red horns and fangs. These demons are seen more of as forgotten and lost angels, very complicated as a race, and very real. Throughout the story, we visit the lost city of Wabar (might also be called Sodom and Ghomorrah) Mt. Ararat, and many other places.
This book is stimulating on many levels, and you really get the idea that Powers was trying to make this novel a lot more than just a novel that gets one point across. The story is about secret governemnt cover ups and ancient histories linked to today, but what I thought when i read this book, interestingly enough, is that all of that fantasy aspect was really just a scenerio to run along a love story. Underneath all of the adventure and complication, in the end, this story ends up a simple story about a boy and a girl. It's an adolescent fantasy that takes our main character, Andrew Hale, as a spy at the age of 18, falling in love with another young spy named Elena, who he must partner with. After they are separated for twenty years is when the story of Ararat, and the Djjin really picks up, and by the end of the book, you get the vibe that that was all introductory to what happens at the end.
The climax of the story surrounding the Djjin on Mt.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishingly good! May 15 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I started reading "Declare" with a great deal of scepticism. I had previously read "Stranger Tides" and "Anubis Gate," and was very leery of what looked like it was going to be a standard spy story. OY! What a surprise! I plowed through the entire book in only three days!
Powers doesn't get around to putting a firm identification of the What behind the mysterious goings-on of Operation Declare until page 160, but by then he has laid a firm groundwork of interesting characters and events of which the reader wants to learn more. Once we learn something in "Declare," however, Powers builds on it, and builds beautifully.
Although "Declare" deals with Andrew Hale and Elena for hundreds of pages, it's actually inspired by (seemingly minor character) Kim Philby, and, in his afterward, Powers states that his intent was to write a novel about Philby which explored his life and work without changing any of the well-known facts of Philby's life. Its the interpretation which Powers puts on the events of Philby's life which make "Declare" mind-bogglingly good. Who, after all, REALLY knows what goes on in the deepest, darkest recesses of the world of espionage? Maybe some of the weirdness of the Looking Glass World really is due to a supernatural element, and if that supernatural element happened to be extremely ancient....
The title "Declare," which hardly compels at first, DOES make sense. Don't miss the reference to Job near the beginning of the book ("Declare, if thous hast understanding...."), and note the reactions of various characters to the word's use, and you won't be surprised yourself when the word turns up with greater frequency in various dialogues.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Leads this reader back to "Kim"
"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 more
Published on April 28 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel I won't soon forget
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 more
Published on Feb. 18 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Declare covers multiple genres
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 more
Published on Aug. 1 2003 by Mark Horne
5.0 out of 5 stars Best in Years
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 more
Published on July 16 2003 by Joel Bartley
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Unique
Tim Powers' Declare is an amazing novel: it's imaginative, unique and compelling. And, it's probably like nothing you've read before. Read more
Published on June 19 2003 by John Thomson
5.0 out of 5 stars a highly entertaining ride for the reader
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 more
Published on April 22 2003 by rash67
2.0 out of 5 stars too slow-going
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
4.0 out of 5 stars What a compelling novel!
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 more
Published on Jan. 21 2003 by Kiwi Carlisle
5.0 out of 5 stars Actually better than Last Call
When a Powers book succeeds, the reader has a sudden feeling of revelation, as in "Oh! THAT explains Las Vegas!! Read more
Published on Nov. 30 2002 by S. Svetitsky
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystical Spies
Tim Powers excels at creating charactors that are slightly bemused by the supernatural situations they find themselves in. Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2002 by Evie77
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