What do the Cold War, Mt Ararat, Lawrence of Arabia, Rudyard Kipling, the lost city of Ubar, ankhs, MI6, the French Resistance, Kim Philby, the collapse of the Soviet Union and Djinn all have in common?
“Declare” by Tim Powers.
“Supernatural suspense thriller” – yes – that does describe it, but it’s so much more. Layers upon layers. Secret hidden histories under secret societies and secret government organizations.
You need to read this one carefully – there are nuances and layers and ….well you probably need to read it twice to catch all the things you didn’t quite “catch” the first time through. And it’s a great read. Someone said that Tim Powers overestimates the intelligence of his readers – I don’t know about that – but it’s very likely that you will have to pull out your Wikipedia links to do further research on many of the characters, locations and concepts in this book. Nothing wrong with that – you will end up a bit smarter and certainly more entertained.
The premise of the story is that the long running “Great Game” between Russia/Soviet Union and Great Britain/The West is really part of “Operation Declare” which involves investigating the true nature of mysterious beings living on Mt Ararat and how the Russia/the Soviet Union has attempted to harness their vast supernatural powers over the years. Fallen Angels? Djinn? Something else? Read the book to find out
Our hero is Andrew Hale – a fictional character with a secretive past, mysterious dreams who is recruited into the British Secret Service at a very young age.
Hale is pulled into Operation Declare – initially involved with the French Resistance, a Russian Agent, and secret radio transmitters. The story moves from Britain, France, through the Middle East, Turkey and finally to Mother Russia. Hale is our fictional path through very true historical events that are retold with a supernatural twist.
Tim Powers is genius in the way that he is able to weave real historical characters, events and facts with the surreal and winds up with a story that truly holds together.