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Declare (2000)

by Tim Powers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,3173410,097 (4.08)67
As a young double agent infiltrating the Soviet spy network in Nazi-occupied Paris, Andrew Hale finds himself caught up in a secret, even more ruthless war. Two decades later, in 1963, he will be forced to confront again the nightmare that has haunted his adult life: a lethal unfinished operation code-named Declare. From the corridors of Whitehall to the Arabian desert, from post-war Berlin to the streets of Cold War Moscow, Hale's desperate quest draws him into international politics and gritty espionage tradecraft -- and inexorably drives Hale, the fiery and beautiful Communist agent Elena Teresa Ceniza-Bendiga, and Kim Philby, mysterious traitor to the British cause, to a deadly confrontation on the high glaciers of Mount Ararat, in the very shadow of the fabulous and perilous Ark.… (more)
Recently added bydizzybea, nelsam, private library, EmilRefus, Scott_Reeves, dsawchuk, thebirdiscruel, TomWeiss
  1. 50
    The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross (grizzly.anderson)
  2. 30
    The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: There is a shared delight in mixing Cold War paranoia and the mystical/fantastic in these two novels.
  3. 00
    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré (LamontCranston)
  4. 13
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: Both are bulky, character-oriented novels rooted in the socio-political frames of particular periods; both are self-consciously English; both have emotional depth; both mix in some real historical persons as characters; both introduce their central supernatural elements in a gradual manner; and in both cases those elements are anchored in archaic intelligences and their complex relations with humanity. I would even compare the narrative role that Powers assigns to T.E. Lawrence ("of Arabia") to that occupied by the Raven King in Clarke's book. And both Powers and Clarke are performing a certain level of transcendent pastiche: adding magic to the LeCarre spy thriller on the one hand and to the Austen saga of realist satire on the other. Powers gets more points for fidelity to history, Clarke for verisimilitude of magic.… (more)

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» See also 67 mentions

English (32)  Dutch (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
Great mashup of Le Carré and the occult, almost Charlie Stross-style (but more Cold War in setting and style). Looking forward to reading more of Powers' "secret histories." ( )
  goliathonline | Jul 7, 2020 |
one of my all-time favorites. Somehow manages to combine Spies, Djinn, Kim Philby, Lawrence of Arabia, Mt Ararat, Saharan adventures, Nazis and the Cold War. And with a plausible historical storyline behind it. For espionage enthusiasts, the author's note at the end laying out the history is like discovering buried treasure. ( )
1 vote viking2917 | Sep 27, 2019 |
Ultimately Hale did begin to suspect that there was a single story behind many of the old reports and rumors he was investigating: from Armenian fugitives he learned that an earthquake had shaken Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey in 1883 and knocked down a lot of ancient standing stones around the 17,000-foot level; Russian and Turkish scientists had visited the site, and subsequently a Russian team went to the mountain with wagons, and then went away by train to Moscow; and until the Turkish Army evacuated all the Armenians from the area in 1915, Armenian blacksmiths had hammered on their anvils every day, even on Sundays and holidays, hoping by their staccato ringing noise to keep something from descending the mountain.

This is a tale of British and French attempts to stop the Russians using a djinn from Mount Ararat to protect the soviet state during World War II and the following decades. The book is too long really, and I was quite bored until at least a third of the way through it. The changes between various time periods skips between the war, the late forties and the early sixties were confusing, and it didn't get round to describing what happened after the war until much later in the book, so I kept putting it down and not picking up again for weeks.

It became much more exciting and enjoyable in the second half. ( )
  isabelx | Jan 23, 2019 |
DECLARE is Tim Powers' take on a British, Le Carre style spy novel, with his own added supernatural twists. And as such, it's a resounding success. What starts in murky waters in the British spy services quickly spirals out into the history and final culmination of a decades long investigation into what might or might not inhabit the high peaks of Mount Ararat, the reasons why the Russians are so interested, and the motives, ulterior mostly, of one of the most famous spies of all.

Powers' decision to weave this tale in and around the known facts of Kim Philby's life in the secret services is a brave one, but having facts and actual events involved serves to anchor the story in reality and allows the flights of fancy and supernatural to feel more rooted. As ever, Powers' narrative is a fractured one, but the aforementioned Philby life story serves as a backbone that holds the whole thing together, even the more outlandish sections.

Powers' way with a sentence is much in evidence, and there are the trademark lyrical flourishes that, in this story even more than some of his others, reminded me much of some of the work of Roger Zelazny.

It's a largish book, near 600 pages in the edition that I read, but I breezed through it , for despite the sometimes dense exposition which shows the depth of research that was undertaken, at its simplest, this is a love story, and what with that, and the added thrill of the Le Carre like machinations, I loved it, and read it in two sittings over two days.

Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote williemeikle | Dec 22, 2018 |
Powers' best book so far, in my view. ( )
  adamhindman | Dec 15, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tim Powersprimary authorall editionscalculated
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson,DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Birthdays? yes, in a general way:
For the most if not for the best of men:
You were born -- I suppose -- on a certain day:
So was I: or perhaps in the night: what then?

Only this: or at least, if more,
You must know, not think it, and learn, not speak:
There is truth to be found on the unknown shore,
And many will find what few would seek.
- J. K. Stephen, inaccurately quoted in a letter from St. John Philby to his son, Kim Philby, March 15, 1932
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Declare, if thou hast understanding.
- Job 38:4
First words
The young captain's hands were sticky with blood on the steering wheel as he cautiously backed the jeep in a tight turn off the rutted mud track onto a patch of level snow that shone in the intermittent moonlight on the edge of the gorge, and then his left hand seemed to freeze onto the gear-shift knob after he reached down to clank the lever up into first gear. (prologue)
From the telephone a man's accentless voice said, "Here's a list: Chaucer...Malory..."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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