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Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins
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Wolfhound Century (edition 2013)

by Peter Higgins

Series: Mirgorod (1)

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1292993,299 (3.24)24
Member:bookstothesky
Title:Wolfhound Century
Authors:Peter Higgins
Info:Orbit (2013), Hardcover, 380 pages
Collections:Your library, Books, Read in 2012
Rating:****
Tags:arc, uk fantasy, fantasy, uk science fiction, science fiction, steampunk, read 2012, read

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Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins

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Set in a parallel version of Russia, where creatures from folklore are commonplace and where vast stone angels have crashed to earth for reasons no-one seems to understand, Wolfhound Century follows a provincial policeman as he is summoned to the capital and ordered to track down a criminal agitator who appears to enjoy high level political protection.

Vissarion Lom, an able, honest, overlooked detective from the provincial town of Podchornok finds himself summoned the capital by the Minister of Vlast Security. Arriving in Mirgorod, he learns that Under Secretary Krogh wants him to track down the criminal agitator Josef Kantor; and that because of Kantor's suspected high-level political connections, Lom must work alone and in secret. But unknown to the Minister, Kantor is not the master of his own destiny: having received a series of telepathic visitations from an archangel, petrified and fallen to earth in the far east but still alive, Kantor has been ordered to destroy a mysterious artefact called the Pollandore which the angel believes threatens its continued survival.

Meanwhile Kantor's supposed daughter, Maroussia Shaumian, appears at home of Raku Vishnik, the out of favour historian with whom Lom is staying, to ask him about the Pollandore which she suspects of triggering a series of surreal visions of the city. Initially horrified by Lom's presence - the Vlast's police are not greatly trusted - Maroussia gradually comes to realise that his fight against Kantor and his corrupt backers has something in common with her own search.

Lom's search seems to go from dead end to dead end until he learns that Kantor's record has been seconded by Lavrentina Chazia, the Head of the Secret Police who has dabled extensively in experiments involving the insertion of fragments of stone angel flesh into humans - something with which Lom is all to familiar: a fragment of an angel was inserted into his forehead during early childhood in an attempt to control his budding telekinetic abilities.

Higgins skillfully blends the traditional fantasy elements with a vision of something like Tsarist Russia to create a strange semi-modern society where giants are called upon to do manual labour and the might of the state is enforced by the mudjhiks - golem-like creatures created by embedding the brain of a dead animal into a statue-like body created from the stone of the fallen angels. The city, normally real and concrete, has become increasingly plastic under the influence of the Pollandore, with tiles turning into flowers or waitresses in cafes suddenly finding themselves weightless and shops and locations appearing and disappearing seemingly at random.

The book draws heavily on real history for its villains. Josef Kantor, intelligent, charismatic, sociopathic, and domineering is clearly an alternate version of Joseph Stalin; a likeness made even more obvious when Lom is granted a vision of a statue of Kantor, five hundred feet tall, bestriding the skyline of Mirgorod like a new colossos. Meanwhile Kantor's covert accomplice, Lavrentina Chazia, the Head of the Secret Police, is a gender-swapped version of Lavrentiy Beria, who held the same post under Stalin.

Wolfhound Century is an exciting read with fine attention to detail and a fascinating take on Russian folk culture. As the first part of a series, the story ends on an inconclusive note, but that doesn't matter all that much at this point because the second and third books are already out. ( )
  sawyl | Aug 9, 2015 |
Nice atmosphere of Tsarist/Soviet-style alternate Russia but the story and characters were so dull I couldn't be bothered to finish it. ( )
  SChant | Jul 19, 2015 |
This book was a major disappointment, and indeed angered me, not because it was a poorly written book - it is in fact a good story with a unique and fascinating setting - but because it literally stops in the middle of a scene. Nothing in the book comes to any resolution. Not a cliffhanger, no, it simply stops in the middle of the story. There is no indication anywhere in the book, not on the cover, in the notes, in a preface, in the marketing material, anywhere - that this is the first in a series. But make no mistake, this is #1 in a series, in fact, it could be best described as like just reading the first few chapters of a book (except, it is in fact a book length work). Really, I was so convinced that I thought I had a defective printing and nearly went out to buy another copy. (Indeed, the #2 was released in 2014.) This is a good detective story in an alternate world fantasy with a steampunk flavor, but in a Russian setting with slavic mythology elements. Pretty interesting, and if in fact I had wrote this review after reading the whole series (sometime in the distant future) then my opinion would be completely reversed - but for now, I just can't get over the clipped ending. You have been warned.
1 vote hblanchard | Nov 23, 2014 |
Interesting story and characters. The action kept happening. ( )
  gregandlarry | May 23, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins has a wonderful, dark, damp, creepy atmosphere perfectly fitting the totalitarian Soviet state it is set in. In a world where the supernatural is natural, angels, giants, and other creatures are normal. Higgins tells a great tale, leading the reader along as Inspector Lom tracks a terrorist and finds out that thing are not as they seem. Unfortunately, the pacing of the story is very slow initially, then in the last third of the book things happen so fast it is difficult to keep up. Also, don't pick up this book expecting a complete story. This is the first volume in a series and ends rather too abruptly for my taste. ( )
  lpg3d | May 6, 2014 |
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2013-03 (USUK)
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Epigraph
The woulfhound century is on my back --
But I am not a wolf.
--Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938)
Dedication
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Book description
Fantasy thriller set in an alternative early twentieth century Russia.
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Investigator Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist --- and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police. A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown insurgents with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists. Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head.… (more)

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