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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 postwar 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.

624 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 2000

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About the author

Tim Powers

129 books1,583 followers
Timothy Thomas Powers is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Powers has won the World Fantasy Award twice for his critically acclaimed novels Last Call and Declare.

Most of Powers's novels are "secret histories": he uses actual, documented historical events featuring famous people, but shows another view of them in which occult or supernatural factors heavily influence the motivations and actions of the characters.

Powers was born in Buffalo, New York, and grew up in California, where his Roman Catholic family moved in 1959.

He studied English Literature at Cal State Fullerton, where he first met James Blaylock and K.W. Jeter, both of whom remained close friends and occasional collaborators; the trio have half-seriously referred to themselves as "steampunks" in contrast to the prevailing cyberpunk genre of the 1980s. Powers and Blaylock invented the poet William Ashbless while they were at Cal State Fullerton.

Another friend Powers first met during this period was noted science fiction writer Philip K. Dick; the character named "David" in Dick's novel VALIS is based on Powers and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner) is dedicated to him.

Powers's first major novel was The Drawing of the Dark (1979), but the novel that earned him wide praise was The Anubis Gates, which won the Philip K. Dick Award, and has since been published in many other languages.

Powers also teaches part-time in his role as Writer in Residence for the Orange County High School of the Arts where his friend, Blaylock, is Director of the Creative Writing Department. Powers and his wife, Serena, currently live in Muscoy, California. He has frequently served as a mentor author as part of the Clarion science fiction/fantasy writer's workshop.

He also taught part time at the University of Redlands.

Excerpted from Wikipedia.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 490 reviews
Profile Image for Jonathan Peto.
252 reviews46 followers
May 5, 2014
Where to begin? I should take a day off from work to write this one, but I can't.

Just days ago I assumed I was going to give this book 3 stars. That reflected disappointment. The first couple hundred pages are... well, I guess the word is "slow". Many of the scenes held my interest but they did not seem to be adding up to much and I was getting impatient. I'm sure readers drop this thing left and right before getting to page 300. I can't imagine not wanting to start it though. One of the characters is Kim Philby. The story is a spy novel that integrates real people and events with elements of the supernatural. The settings include Paris during World War 2, London, and the Middle East and Soviet Union during the 1960s.

But the story unfolds slowly. I didn't mind what I read, but ultimately the author probably should have been more selective about what he showed of the main character's past. That man, Andrew Hale, becomes a spy who works on a super secret operation that involves supernatural creatures and the Cold War. It takes forever for important scenes with the supernatural to occur, but ultimately, I thought it was worth the wait. These things are influential but hidden. Most of us have no idea they are influencing Cold War events, and Powers has stuck to the facts but slipped these things into his alternative history. If you are patient, there is a reward. When Andrew Hale faces them, it's scary. Powers does not portray him as a courageous hero. He's scared of these things.

Hale has a love interest. Some of those first 300 pages set that up. It's complicated because her spy career revolves around the supernatural too. It is an interesting twist on the whole spy vs spy love thing, but the characters are not as vivid as they need to be for it to amaze.

If you're patient and are interested in alternative history with elements of the supernatural weaved around real events and real people, you should check this out. Why would you want to miss a scene with elite soldiers in World War 2 army jeeps on the side of a mountain being told by some captain they don't know (Andrew Hale) that supernatural beings await them at the top of the hill? Hale feels guilty about what happens next, but who could prepare anyone for that?
January 10, 2012
Delcare by Tim Powers.

Perhaps this will explain better than I what I mean by wonderful descriptions and almost “lyrical prose.”

”… From over the shoulder of the mountain, on the side by the Abich I glacier, he heard booming and cracking; and then the earthbound thunder sounded to his right, and he saw that it was the noise of avalanches, galleries and valleys of snow moving down from the heights and separating into fragments then tumbling and exploding into jagged bursts of white against the remote gray sky before they disappeared below his view.

The cracks and thunders made syllables in the depleted air, but they didn’t seem to be in Arabic. Hale guessed that they were of a language much older, the uncompromised speech of mountain conversing with mountain and lightning and cloud, seeming random only to creatures like himself whose withered verbs and nouns had grown apart from the things they described.

The music was nearly inaudible to Hale’s physical eardrums, but in his spine he could feel that it was mounting toward some sustained note for which tragedy or grandeur would be nearly appropriate words.

Silently in the vault far overhead the clouds broke, all tall columns of glowing, whirling snow-dust stood now around the black vessel, motionless; Hale reflected that it must be noon, for the shining columns were vertical. The mountain and the lake and the very air were suddenly darker in comparison.

The columns of light were alive and he fields of their attentions palpably sweeping across the ice and the glacier face and the mountain, momentarily clarifying into sharp focus anything they touched; for just a moment, Hale could see with hallucinatory clarity the woven cuffs of his sleeves.

Angels, Hale thought, looking away in shuddering awe. These beings on this mountain are older than the world, and once looked God in the face…”

I’d love to talk about all the wonderful things in this book. Tim Powers is an amazing author and it boggles my mind when I think about how little is known of his writing in this day and age. His command of the English language rivals those of a bygone age where lyrical prose sounded almost poetic and authors paid excruciating attention to the most minute detail in order to paint pictures and convey emotions, noble love, tragedy and desperation with only words from their hearts. Words that conveyed scents, tactile sensations, tastes, sounds and wonderful sights while inspiring fear, hopelessness joy and love as if the reader were standing next to the story’s hero and freezing in the cold with him. Authors like E.A. Poe, A.C. Doyle, E. R. Burroughs and Jules Verne. In Declare Tim Powers reminds me of these greats, but, that’s not all.

Declare has a twisted, tangled multi-layered plot that reminds me of Robert Ludlum’s writing in the days of the Parsifal Mosaic and The Holcroft Covenant. This is a tale of cold war espionage and cloak and dagger skullduggery with a touch of the wicked darkness of the Osterman Weekend or The Boys of Brazil. There is action in Declare reminiscent of an Alistair Maclean novel like Where Eagles Dare. On top of this, dark, mysterious themes seep through all of this, like bourbon through sweet yellow cake. Themes that bring darkness and fear like that from the movies Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen. As if this came short of any mark, Powers chose to weave his fantastic tale through actual events in history, without changing them.

In his own words…

“In a way, I arrived at the plot for this book by the same method that astronomers use in looking for a new planet—they look for “perturbations,” wobbles, in the orbits of planets they’re aware of, and they calculate mass and position of an unseen planet whose gravitational field could have caused the observed perturbations—and then they turn their telescopes on that part of the sky and search for a gleam. I looked at all the seemingly irrelevant “wobbles” in the lives of these people—Kim Philby, his father, T.E. Lawrence, Guy Burgess—and I made it an ironclad rule that I could not change or disregard any of the recorded facts, nor rearrange any days of the calendar—and then I tried to figure out what momentous but unrecorded fact could explain them all.”

Powers uses the same formula that won the movie “Titanic” and “The Return of the King” Oscars. By unswerving loyalty to the original book or the historical facts and an a scholarly dedication to keep the details as much as they happened in the book of Philby, Lawrence of Arabia or T.S. Eliot’s lives while waving a wonderful tale of magic, betrayal and hope around them.

Knitting all of these elements together and providing a sense of hope, like the loom of a lighthouse light where the tower is hidden behind the horizon and only the glow of the light brings faint hope for guidance and resurrection, a tragic and heart worming love story that spans decades with the lovers trapped in a cold war that’s older than civilization itself.

In the early chapters of this book, Powers tapped into the grim, hopeless feeling darkness that lurks throughout George Orwell’s masterwork, 1984. Andrew Hale reminds me as much of Winston Smith as he does Arthur Blair (Orwell) himself in the days of the Spanish Civil war. The later chapters evoke memories of Alistair Maclean’s Where Eagles Dare or The Guns of Naverone.

Ordinarily, so many elements between the covers of a single book may be overwhelming and distracting, like a master-chef preparing Chicken Cordon Blu, the layers are blended together in Declare in perfect unique compliment of each other and they please the pallet beyond what most writers are able to do.
Did I like this book?

Yes, very much. Right now I rate it 4.5 stars, but I am considering an upgrade to a rare 5 star award.

Warnings (as usual, the Devil is in the Details).
1) As masterful and wonderful as I think this book is, it is written in an cadence and pace that is more like the wonderful novels of John Wyndham, H.G. Wells and George Orwell published in the 1950s and 60s. Though Powers wrote and published his work in 1988, like a chameleon he adapts the style of writing that was prevalent in the era he writes about. He is a modern author and writer and this is a modern novel so there is more dialog and other conventions that mark modern works different from classic ones, but some might find the pace has two speeds, slow and lightning speed. I like the “Sprint and Drift” formula here, as I did in The Hidden Oasis but some may thing it gets too slow in places.

2) There are no sexual scenes, though the characters do engage in sex. There is very little foul language, but there is a word or two that you wouldn’t utter in front of your mother. Make no mistake--I think these are well managed with the emphasis on story, plot and character development.

3) There is plenty of violence in this book. The story is written so smoothly that it is not out of place, not gratuitous or vulgar, but people get shot and damaged in some very creative ways.

4) There is a theme here involving biblical elements. This may be one of the few books where I can say, “I” (me) do not believe that these elements will challenge anyone’s faith. I can never tell, so, warning these are here and there is also a blend of supernatural elements.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.

I would also like to say, that, if you are a fan of audiobooks, that I listened to the narration of Simon Prebble. I usually do not recommend Audiobooks because liking or hating a narrator is generally a personal matter. Narration is a fickle art. Having one good book does nto gauruntee another. Simon Prebble, Tim Powers and Declare hit perfect notes. This book was a superb fit for Prebbles dignified sense of expression and carefully paced timing.

I will also say that I liked some of the discriptive paragraphs so much that I bought the Kindle book so I could read them myself. This is just a good read.
Profile Image for Ian Tregillis.
Author 72 books1,063 followers
February 22, 2012
Five stars: I want to have this book's babies.

If Tim Powers had taken a sabbatical into my subconscious, living like Jane Goodall among the phantoms of my nightly dream life, he couldn't have written a book more perfectly suited for me. Part of me wants to eat his brain and thereby absorb his power. That's how much I enjoyed this book: it makes me wonder what it would be like to eat somebody's brain, and how long I'd have to keep it down before the power transfer became permanent.

It's no secret that I think Tim Powers is a mad genius. I've been known to shoot my mouth off fairly frequently about how I think his take on magic is just plain right. So, admittedly, it's not like my biases were working against this book from the outset. And yet. As much as I enjoy his work in general, this is the one that pressed all of my buttons. How could it not?

The novel begins with a young spy fleeing a failed secret mission atop Mount Ararat. That mount Ararat, which immediately gets my occult Spidey-sense tingling. From there we follow Andrew Hale on a globe-spanning adventure that effortlessly weaves Cold War history, heartbroken spies, magic, Kim Philby, the Dead Sea Scrolls, djinn, MI6, Lawrence of Arabia, The Thousand and One Nights, the Brandenburg Gate, the Special Operations Executive, and Noah's Ark. Noah's freakin' Ark, people!

But wait, there's more. Because as if weaving all of that into a surprisingly plausible secret history isn't by itself a tour de force, Powers pulls it off in the form of a love letter to John LeCarre novels. (Damn, man. What else? Were you riding a unicycle and juggling flaming clubs while you wrote this?) Stylistically, this novel differs a bit from Powers's other outings because this is straight-up espionage literature of the stale beer variety. Powers, an avowed LeCarre fan, knows what he's doing in this arena.

Our hero, Hale, is the son of a disgraced nun, the identity of his father a mystery. At every year's end he suffers nightmares of a vast power thrashing in troubled sleep beneath the desert while the stars wheel overhead. He was baptized in the Jordan river, and that makes him the key to the most secret, longest-running operation in the history of British Intelligence. At age 7, he becomes an unwitting agent of DECLARE.

Hale is an imperfect hero. He isn't suave, he isn't endowed with an improbable surfeit of competence, he isn't the toughest SOB in the room. But he's smart, and sometimes -- at the very highest-stakes table of the Great Game -- that's just enough to get by. Most of all, he's a lonely, brokenhearted man suffering from, if not exactly unrequited love, frustrated and unfulfilled love. More Smiley than Bond, his heart has only ever belonged to one woman: Elena Teresa Ceniza-Bendiga.

They met in occupied Paris, where she was Et Cetera, or Elena, and he Lot, or Marcel. Together they spent several months hiding from the Gestapo, moving from flat to flat, all the while serving a network of Soviet agents (she with the fervor of a true believer, he as a double agent). They were young together, feared for their lives together, huddled together against malevolent magics older than mankind. And then their mission(s) ended. Elena was recalled to Moscow (and almost certain execution), while Hale was recalled to England. When he fails to convince her to come west with him rather than go east to an uncertain fate, he knows he will almost certainly never see her again. But it's too late for him. How, given everything they'd experienced together, could he possibly love anybody else? Hale's devotion to Elena is lovely and touching, an honest portrait of the complex currents of the human heart. He is broken and stunted by the circumstances of his life, unable to move beyond his brief relationship with Elena. This rang very, very true to me.

They do meet again, of course. In Berlin in 1945, and on Mount Ararat a few years later, and in Beirut some years after that.

The fates of Hale and Elena are closely intertwined with that of the third player in these secret machinations: none other than Kim Philby, the most notorious member of the "Cambridge Five" spy ring. And, for my money, this is where Powers's craftsmanship shines. He's playing a game throughout Declare, weaving a supernatural explanation to the many strange (and they are strange) facts surrounding Philby's life. He somehow manages this without ever changing or ignoring the documented facts. Powers outlines all the pieces of this puzzle in an extensive and fascinating author's note. It's that note, as much as anything else, that makes me want to consume his mind.

Powers's djinn -- or are they fallen angels? -- are truly alien and truly scary. Shit gets real when they come on stage.

This novel is very well suited to my tastes, but it isn't immune to criticism. Others don't care for Declare as much as I do, and understandably so. For one thing, the storytelling is very nonlinear, jumping from 1948 to 1963 to 1941 and back to 1963. . . It jumps around enough that I wouldn't be surprised if it turned some people off. It might also be guilty of hiding the football, constantly referring to things known to the POV characters without revealing them to the reader. It does take about half the book before the reader learns just what happened on Mount Ararat, and why. I know people who found that extremely irritating. I can't blame them. For me, personally, the hints were so yummy that I didn't mind waiting for the big reveals later in the book -- and, to my opinion, the revelations are never a letdown. YMMV.

It's also fair to say that the rivalry between Hale and Philby as they vie for Elena C-B's affection isn't particularly enlightened. They gamble for the right to pursue her hand, but they never stop to consider the lady's preferences. Again, I can see how that could color readers' perceptions of the characters. I wasn't quite so bothered by this, because it's quite clear that Hale is truly in love with Elena and that Philby is, quite frankly, a selfish, backstabbing, smarmy, lying, traitorous, asshat. Of course he'd be the kind of guy to see her as a game piece, a symbol of the clashing ideologies behind DECLARE, another object to be won. Hale gambles with him because -- seriously -- who in his right mind would want to see the love of his life accosted by Kim Philby?

So yeah. While it may not be a perfect book, it's as damn close to perfect for this reader as I'm likely to find.

Anchors aweigh, my dear boy.
Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews764 followers
February 14, 2016
“The concealed war that, ironically, facilitated its own concealment simply by being beyond the capacity of most people to believe.”

Tim Powers’ Declare is about this “concealed war” where Russia, the UK, Germany and France engage in using supernatural weapons in additional to conventional ones during the Second World War and continues into the 60s Cold War between the East and the West. I love the idea of a secret layer to our reality that we don’t know anything about. Tthe author calls it an "extravagant—but consistent—premise". I agree with this. So many great concepts and interesting depiction of spycraft in this book. Shame about the execution.

On the face of it Declare looks like an exciting mash-up of spy and fantasy fiction, but the actual book—for me—is a damp squib. Objectively I can’t say that this book is terrible because it is highly rated here on Goodreads and plenty of people like it, a 4.02 average rating is not to be sniffed at. Unfortunately for me, the book is a huge disappointment. I love fantasy fiction and the occasional spy fiction by the likes of Ian Fleming, Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum and John Le Carré. However, in a mash-up of the two genres, the fantasy side would be of more interest to me. Tim Powers teases and teases with his mysterious prologue and slow build-up of something odd going on in the background of the espionage world, but he takes too long to introduce the overtly supernatural element of the story. I am not an impatient reader but nothing clearly fantastical happen for during the first 130 pages of the book. This mash-up already felt off balanced, and the espionage side of it is glacially paced with long, dull conversations and expositions. Occasionally we get fun cloak and dagger shenanigan like:

“Tonight at eight o’clock you are to be standing under the—Eros?—statue in Piccadilly Square, you know what that is? Good. Hold a belt, you know?—for trousers?—in your right hand. A man carrying some fruit, an orange perhaps, will approach you and ask you where you bought the belt; you will tell him that you bought it in an ironmonger’s shop in Paris, and then you will ask him where you can buy an orange like his; he will offer to sell it to you for a penny. Hand this envelope to him then. He will have further work for you.”

Good stuff, but not enough of them to compensate for the mundanity of the first 100 or so pages. Once “weird shit” begin to happen my interest perked up a bit. The inclusion of the notorious real-life spy Kim Philby, with some added magical element to his back story, and tying all that into known facts about his life, is a cleverly done bit of alt-history. As a character Philby is more compelling than the other characters in the book, possibly because he has the advantage of being real. The actual protagonist of the book, Andrew Hale, is as flat as a pancake, I really could not invest in his character. Apart from his obsession with a Russian spy called Elena his character seems to be vaguely defined and I could not root for him in his—often dull— adventures. There are many other characters that drift in and out of the book without leaving any kind of impression.

Another problem is that the narrative seems to be terribly earnest, considering it is a blend of two usually exciting genres it is mostly devoid of humour. A story about a spy on a mission to kill a demon or guardian angel protecting Russia from supernatural attacks doesn't need to take itself so seriously. I became so disengaged from the narrative that by the time I arrived at page 370 (about 60% of the book) I had to put the book down and pick up another—shorter— book* to read for a few days. I didn't want to give up on Declare but to continue with it to page 641, the last page, seems like an awful slog. Had the narrative been much tighter I would not have needed to take a break. Anyway, after I finished the shorter book I—somewhat reluctantly—resumed reading Declare to the bitter end. Instead of building a steady momentum to an exciting climax and denouement the narrative just moves on at an uneven pace until it gets to the end. By this time, even the fantasy sections of the book are not that enjoyable because I have stopped caring.

Obviously, I am not going to recommend this book, but I appreciate that more people like it than not, which is fine. If you are particularly interested in this book, read a few reviews and perhaps read some sample chapters and decide from there. Having said that, I did read a few sample chapters of about 30 pages and still wrongly decided to buy the book. I had the impression that the hints of the supernatural in the early chapters will build up to something special. That did not happen.

* Martian Time-Slip, a far better book and half the length of Declare. IMO of course!
Profile Image for Becky.
1,319 reviews1,611 followers
October 17, 2015
I've been listening to this for hours, over the course of several (many? all?) weeks, and I'm calling it quits. The narrative jumps around all over the place, and there are soooo many details about the spying, and so many layers to the spying, and so many historical details that probably should make all of that mean something to me... but almost as soon as I turn this back on, my eyes glaze over and I zone out... and I just don't care.

I don't know what this book is about. Maybe knowing that might've helped me focus because I'd have known that we were working toward something. And even though I technically and academically know that we were probably working toward something, because that's what stories are supposed to do, I just can't bring myself to be interested in getting there.

Parts of this reminded me a bit of The Grimnoire series by Larry Correia, with the magic and the mid-30s timeframe, and political power stuff, but where that series was enjoyable and exciting and held my interest, this book wasn't and did not.

I'm sure that I'm doing it wrong, and missing the point, and am stupid and illiterate and should die in a fire for not loving this book, but I just can't. Sorry.
Profile Image for Theo Logos.
610 reviews92 followers
March 13, 2023
Tim Powers is the most creative speculative fiction writer working today, and Declare is a triple-decker masterpiece. No one does wholly other and alien occult worlds as well as Powers. It is the signature of all his work, and it is the uncanny, beating heart of this novel. The second layer of Powers’ brilliance on display here is his masterful crafting of hidden history — taking small, obscure details of actual history and re-explaining them through the lens of his occult universe. In Declare, his major historical focus is the notorious British double agent, Kim Philby, but actions of Woodrow Wilson, T.E. Lawrence, Lenin, and other historical notables also figure in. Powers redefines the entire Cold War, and the bulk of twentieth century history through his occult lens. Powers then takes this fascinating occult hidden history and delivers it in a gripping spy novel as cold blooded and convincing as anything by le Carré.

Note that Declare is not a fast paced thriller. It is deliberately crafted as a long, slow burn. Powers teases the secret of his chilling, supernatural reality from the book’s opening sentence, but does a slow reveal, giving out only bits and pieces, hints of the dread reality. He builds the tension this way most effectively. Related to this, he tells his story jumping backwards and forwards in time, mostly between 1963 (the book’s present tense) and various dates in the 1940s, during and after the war. While this style of storytelling is sometimes problematic, Powers has mastered it, and uses it to great effect.

This is my third time reading Declare. I have enjoyed it as much this time through as when I first read it nearly twenty years ago. If you enjoy Tim Powers unique work, it is a must read.
Profile Image for Melissa McShane.
Author 58 books737 followers
July 19, 2019
Re-read 7/15/19 as audiobook: This may have moved Declare to the top of my Tim Powers list, thanks to a failed attempt to listen to the audiobook of my favorite, Last Call. (It was boring. Bronson Pinchot made the book boring.) I really have nothing else to add to my previous review of the last time I read it, except that the narrator, Simon Prebble, was excellent. And that this time, I really wanted to slap sense into Elena about her obsession with Communism. Yes, there would have been very little story had she not gone back to Moscow, but really, it showed how very young she was.

9/3/14: Saying Declare is not my favorite Tim Powers novel is like saying butter pecan is not my favorite ice cream flavor: it's still ice cream, and better than almost any other flavor but chocolate fudge brownie, which in this somewhat confused analogy is his book Last Call. Much as I enjoy reading Declare, I am more impressed by what he has done with his secret history in combination with djinn, fallen angels, Noah's Ark, and the intersection between the secret spy networks of Britain, France, and the Soviet Union in World War II and its aftermath.

In the Author's Note to Declare, Powers writes:
In a way, I arrived at the plot for this book by the same method that astronomers use in looking for a new planet--they look for "perturbations," wobbles, in the orbits of the planets they're aware of, and they calculate the mass and position of an unseen planet whose gravitational field could have caused the observed perturbations....
Every aspect of this secret history rises out of the real, uncanny history of infamous spy Kim Philby, and Powers has done incredible work in creating a brilliant story without changing a single detail of the recorded facts or a single date. That leaves me absolutely breathless.

Of course, what he's invented is pretty amazing too. I am fascinated by the concept of the djinn, whose consciousness is defined by things, for whom to remember something is to do it again. Andrew Hale, our reluctant hero (something else Powers is good at writing, creating main characters who teeter on the verge of being unsympathetically weak), begins to act for himself after his encounters with these strange creatures and the chaos they have left behind. They are truly alien, and yet convincingly, terrifyingly, part of our world.

So much is intermingled here--Biblical stories and folk legend and, my favorite, the explanation for the extraordinary success of the Soviet Union for so many decades, which I found creepy and thrilling all at once. I love that Powers' characters not only act upon the story, but are acted upon. This is a spy story, at least in part, and it's natural that sometimes these people behave in ways that are larger than life (Hale's facing down the djinn in the Rub' al-Khali desert, Elena surviving her tortuous initiation at the hands of Russian zealots) and sometimes are simply very human. And then there's Kim Philby, whose own history makes him an excellent and occasionally sympathetic villain. That Powers didn't have to make most of his character up (his actions, if not his motivations) is still stunning to me.

I always come to the end of a Tim Powers novel wondering what he will choose to write about next. I come to the end of Declare a little afraid of what he will choose to write next.
Profile Image for David Hebblethwaite.
340 reviews232 followers
April 22, 2011
For many years, Tim Powers’ work has largely been out of print in the UK, but that began to change in 2010, when Corvus gave Powers’s novel Declare its first UK edition, which quirk of publishing explains how a ten-year-old book ended up as a contender for the Clarke Award. It felt a little odd to see Declare so nominated, but I was optimistic because I’d read and liked a couple of Powers’ novels previously; Declare won the World Fantasy Award, which I’ve generally found a reliable indicator of good fiction; and the Clarke judges had made fine selections elsewhere in the shortlist. I pretty much took it for granted that we had six strong nominees this year.

Well, now I’ll have to eat those words, because I simply cannot see that this book stands up to any of the other shortlisted titles.

One of the hallmarks of Tim Powers’ fiction is the taking the fantastic and slotting it into the gaps in reality to create an alternative and hidden history of the world; in Declare, the author does this against the background of the Cold War. In 1963, a British former (or so he thought) spy named Andrew Hale is reactivated to complete Operation Declare, the previously failed mission to attack the djinns of Mount Ararat.

Declare is a very long book – 560 B-format pages of close-set type in the edition I have – and the key problem it has is being overly stiff with research for much of that length. Overall, I find it a very slow read (not ideal for a book which is part spy thriller), because so much detail is crammed in at the expense of pacing. Actually, come to that, the general stodginess of Declare makes it difficult to appreciate most other aspects of the novel. For example, there’s a proper sense of otherworldliness in some of the scenes featuring djinns (made particularly interesting by the matter-of-fact tone of delivery), but the impact is diluted by all the less effective surrounding material – the more conventionally ‘spy-thrillerish’ sequences don’t work nearly as well for me.

Perhaps if I knew more about, or were more interested in, the details of Kim Philby’s life (around which Powers has constructed the supernatural framework of his novel) – or if I’d read John Le Carré – I might appreciate more of what Powers is doing in the book. But it does seem to me that Declare is too content to assume that sort of interest on the part of its readers, rather than trying to generate it – hence the profusion on detail.

It’s been a while since I read Last Call and The Drawing of the Dark, but I don’t remember their being a chore to read; Declare, on the other hand, was just that.
Profile Image for Genevieve.
151 reviews9 followers
January 3, 2011
Tim Powers is an incredible writer. Some of his early books stutter a bit - while I love them, several of them lack strong endings and aren't as cohesive as they might be. By the time we get to this novel, however, Powers is in full control. Declare is an intricately constructed novel of spies and the nations who run them, with the central character, Andrew Hale, involved in secret radio transmissions from Occupied Paris, agent-running in the Middle East, and occasional interaction with - and against - Kim Philby, another spy ( a real person, not an invented character). In his inimitable fashion, Powers introduces a supernatural element that serves to explain so many oddities that pop up in the biography of Philby and his equally strange father - oddities that may not mean much on their own but which, in the hands of Powers, combine themselves into a plausible...and truly scary...narrative. A book belonging in the secret history genre, where layers are peeled back from reality, revealing deep mysteries beneath. However, Powers never lets his plotting overshadow his characterization. Andrew and Elena and Kim are realistically brave, flawed, scared, heroic, and understandable.
Profile Image for Commodore Tiberius Q. Handsome.
26 reviews10 followers
February 15, 2009
this novel blew my socks off. i had to pick them up and put them back on for real. SHOOM - right off. anyway, i love tim powers. he does this thing a lot of the time, where he takes an historical event, studies all of the scholarship on it, and then fills in the missing gaps with concocted fantastical happenings and providing a compelling, supernatural explanation on which he bases the novel. for Declare, the backdrop is the Cold War, specifically between the UK and Russia. this novel spans so many genres - espionage, religious, thriller, geopolitical, fantasy - that it's nearly impossible to classify. "supernatural spy thriller" comes close. a british agent of a clandestine service contests with Russian agents and the British traitors in their employ for mastery over a supernatural phenomenon that could determine the fate of the world. the action spans the globe. murder, deciet, assassination, djinn (genies), Noah's ark, gods, ESP, backstabbing, heroism - i thought it was fantastic.
Profile Image for Olethros.
2,610 reviews419 followers
May 9, 2013
-Cuando los cinco de Cambridge se encuentran con los Dioses Primigenios (¿o son los Antiguos?)-.

Género. Narrativa Fantástica.

Lo que nos cuenta. Con estructura de novela y vocación de ucronía, nos relata la vuelta de Andrew Hale al juego de espías del que se retiró hace ya unos años. Moviéndose hacia delante y hacia atrás en el tiempo, el libro nos cuenta la vida de Hale y nos describe la intrincada gama de relaciones entre él y las diferentes agencias de información, tejiendo todos su red mientras se enfrentan a un inquietante fenómeno sobrenatural de grandes dimensiones.

¿Quiere saber más del libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

Profile Image for Cheryl.
919 reviews
November 19, 2017
Spy novel with fantasy elements. This is a hard one to rate. The first 200 pages were almost too dense and confusing with info on Cold War espionage. It actually took me two attempts to get through it, and that was after I'd done research on the real life spy Kim Philby. You really can't skip the pages, though, because it has alot of info crucial to the plot's later sections. Those who muddle through will be rewarded with a story that gets better and is faster paced after the halfway mark. I really enjoyed the fantasy elements - djinn/fallen angels on Mount Ararat (supposed resting place of Noah's ark). How these seemingly unconnected elements all come together makes for a unique and intricate plot. I would say that if the spy genre is not for you, then you probably won't like the story.
Profile Image for Sandi.
510 reviews276 followers
May 16, 2008
I’m really torn about whether to give “Declare” 4 stars or 5. I enjoyed the story and I think Powers had some really great, innovative ideas and crafted them into a unique narrative that defies classification into traditional genres. It’s fantasy, but not fantasy as you normally think of it with dungeons and dragons and elves. It’s sort of a WWII/Cold War spy thriller, but the supernatural aspects prevent it being placed in that genre. It deals with faith and religion, politics and history.

I read a lot. I read a lot of difficult books. I was an English Lit major and I read a lot of even more difficult books than I’m reading now. I can’t think of any book I’ve read that’s been harder to read than “Declare” by Tim Powers. Not that it’s not worth the effort, it just takes extreme concentration to get through it without getting totally lost and confused. I tried to read it several years ago when I wasn’t reading as much as I am now and I didn’t have as much time to spend reading. I couldn’t make it through it.

The things that make “Declare” so difficult to read are the same things that make it so rich and complex. It’s a fantasy novel, so there is magic. But you don’t recognize it when you first see it. Instead, it starts off as a spy thriller; jumping from location to location and from year to year with mind-boggling transitions. I sometimes lost track of whether the setting was in the 1940’s or the 1960’s. The decade and locale would change in mid-chapter. To add to the confusion, Powers uses a lot of historical fact. One of the characters is Kim Philby, a real-life double agent working for the Soviets. In his author’s notes, Powers says that he worked this novel around what was really known about Philby’s life and career. He’s trying to come up with an explanation for some unaccounted time in Philby’s life. This blurring of fact and fiction makes this novel very complicated, but interesting. The protagonist, Andrew Hale, is a very believable character. He is a bona fide human being, not some cookie cutter spy. His actions reflect his humanity.

I think another thing that made this novel very difficult for me to read was its use of spy-thriller conventions. I have read very, very few spy novels in my life. Most of those were Reader’s Digest Condensed Books versions over 30 years ago. So, I’m not familiar with the conventions and pacing of the genre. The second half of the book does get easier as the timeline becomes less complex.

All in all, I’d say this is an excellent book. However, it’s not for the casual or the distracted reader. By the end, all the plots and sub-plots are tied up. But, nothing is handed to you on a silver platter. Reading this book is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle. It’s worth reading if you have the time and concentration and are used to reading very challenging books. If you’re looking for a light, entertaining read, you won’t find it here.

Profile Image for Alan.
1,085 reviews106 followers
June 17, 2018
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Declare, if thou hast understanding.

—Job 38:4, epigram for Declare (emphasis added)

Strip Tim Powers' 2001 novel Declare down to a cinematic elevator pitch, and you end up with something like Raiders of the Lost Ark. They definitely scratch the same itch—but as soon as I've made that comparison I realize that, while not entirely inaccurate, it's also doing this book a great disservice. Declare is nothing less than a great, sprawling, brilliantly interlocking cryptohistorical puzzle-box, seamlessly unifying known history with the occult by way of impeccable spycraft (a la le Carré)... it's always deeply weird, but also—always—weirdly plausible:
"I learned that, in 1942, British Army engineers in the Iraq mountains about Mosul had extinguished the 'burning, fiery furnace' that's mentioned in the Old Testament Book of Daniel—the perpetual natural-gas flare into which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. We had to, the Luftwaffe was using it for night navigation."
—Andrew Hale, p.375

Wheels within wheels... everything in Declare could be true, and you would never know. Powers himself states (in an early interview that appears in this edition's Afterword, as well as in a quote on Wikipedia) that for Declare,
"I made it an ironclad rule that I could not change or disregard any of the recorded facts, nor rearrange any days of the calendar—and then I tried to figure out what momentous but unrecorded fact could explain them all."
—Afterword, p.586

I love that sort of thing. It's conspiratarian catnip to me—and even Powers' smallest observations contribute to the sense of an underlying, unifying whole:
"A soul's first few bloody murders have a sacramental power that must not be spent promiscuously."
—An unnamed Russian, p.427

When it comes down to brass tacks, Declare could only have been a Tim Powers novel, and although Powers himself is American, Declare is very British as well. Graced with characters drawn directly from history, and full of accurate period detail, Powers' mid-century Cold War milieu is permeated, suffused—saturated—with magic, chockablock with supernatural beings and arcane rituals... so much so that it seems everyone involved must have at least some knowledge of the dark necromancies required to navigate its ancient pathways and placate its unseen rulers. All of these things—the historical accuracy, the complex magical systems, and the characters' matter-of-fact knowledge of same—are Powers trademarks, also encountered in later works like Hide Me Among the Graves (from my review of which I've recycled much of this paragraph, by the way).

Declare is an erudite work, too, in small ways as well as large. For example, Powers knows how to use the word "enormity" (hint: it doesn't just mean "something big"):
{...}she thought that if they were together, talking, the enormity of what they had done might diminish.

This was my second time reading Declare—the first was shortly after its publication, long before I joined Goodreads—and I enjoyed this run-through even more than before.

This may, in fact, be Powers' best work to date—and I'm not the only one who thinks so (seriously, go read Ian Tregillis' review, which kicks ass and contains a solidly spoiler-free plot synopsis to boot).

Some readers may well find Declare too disjointed, too leisurely-paced, too chock-full of details both historical and otherwise to be engaging, but as for me... I was enthralled anew, and I became a willing co-conspirator, yet again.
Profile Image for Max.
Author 145 books2,123 followers
January 20, 2015
I've liked everything of Powers' I've read, but in DECLARE his mixture of wit, world-building, and exhaustive erudition really sings. Also, the language! Big, long, chewy sentence after big, long, chewy sentence, yet maintaining flawless pace. In a few moments (e.g. Philby's fox), the backstory becomes a touch baroque, but since this is a product of Powers' gravitational approach to history—finding invisible causes to make sense of too-weird-for-fiction events—I can't exactly fault him for that.

The narrative's reification of myth, faith, and sacrament unsettles and spins, which might be all to the best as it occasions reflection on what role these phenomena (maybe not the right word?) actually play in our lives. It felt strange and bracing, in an all-old's-new-again sort of way, to see Christian sacraments directly affect the supernatural world of the book, which thus refigures Christianity and Islam as fantastical setting elements. (Though it's possible we're in a Bultmann zone here—we're seeing ways Christian and Muslim ritual have preserved older magical traditions. I don't remember much textual support for that position in the novel.) While I'm uncertain about the novel's handling of religion, Powers does evoke the characters' guilt, awe, sin, and desire for confession / amendment, maybe putting at odds the ritual power of external events with their internal, existential significance. Maybe.

Powers' determination that his magical constructs are part of supernature, rather than obscure nature, may be bracing with the more "scientific" magic common in, say, epic fantasies these days. (Though, if it matters, the "magic system" here is well-thought-out and internally consistent.) The supernatural stuff in this book really does defy any ad-hoc scientific explanation my mind can supply, which pushes us deeply into mysterium tremens et fascinans territory.

If you like spies, or secret worlds, this book deserves your time.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,801 followers
July 7, 2021
This is another that makes me think I need a "Weird Fiction" shelf. I saw this described as " le Carré meets Lovecraft". Well, that could be misleading. I have to assume whoever wrote that never read Lovecraft.

I went 3 stars on it, that may be a little low, but as I've often mentioned we don't have Half stars. The first half or so of the book is very much John le Carré-esk. We have a "retired (he hopes) English spy from WW2 called back into service (mysteriously) and put in a position (again) where he'll be expected to (basically) give up his life, become a fugitive and be thought a traitor...for his country.

From there we launch into a series of flashbacks interspersed with jumps back to the "present" (the 1960s). The supernatural aspect of the book is there but for a very long time it's simply hinted at. There are veiled references and just a few odd things. It does of course show up for the books climax.

The does something that bugs me a little, though I'm sure it won't bother a lot of readers. It takes a somewhat obscure Bible verse and begins to build it's plot there. The book takes some very misunderstood Biblical texts, some ideas from Islam, a bit from Judaism and then some folklore mixes them all together and comes up with an alternate explanation for some actual historical events...

And if I tell you any more it will be a spoiler so sort of decide for yourself. I'd say the story isn't bad though with fairly dry passages. I like Powers, though he can't be said to be one of my favorites. As noted, maybe try it yourself. For me no more than "okay", but I'm sure some will like better.
Profile Image for Lightreads.
641 reviews521 followers
April 16, 2011
Eighty percent WWII/Cold War spy thriller, twenty percent creepy fantasy about the supernatural powers moving behind our little conflict.

Tim Powers has some sort of impervious force field. His Three Days to Never made me spittingly furious, but I still dug it. This book was unevenly paced with an irritatingly ham-handed romance* and a cast of largely loathsome people, and I still dug it. How does he do that?

He just writes cool shit, there’s no other way to put it. This book is dense, well-researched, irrationally plausible in the story of a secret British force trying to kill one of the ancient fallen gods protecting the eastern block. With real people stepping in and out, and a lot of interesting spycraft wanking.

*He’s a double agent in 1941 Paris. She’s an 18-year-old communist married to Russia. He’s young and stupid and horny, and suddenly they’re fated for life – I mean the book believes this too, not just our hero. Points for giving the girl some actual agency; massive negative points for the appalling hateful scene of two men playing cards to see who will go fuck her – her consent being, you know, a point which occurs to neither of them, including the guy who’s allegedly in love with her.**

**Impervious. Force field. Seriously.
Profile Image for Sandi.
282 reviews52 followers
September 22, 2011
This is my second Powers novel and I have to admit I'm hooked. This guy can write!

I've never been a true fan of political thrillers or espionage but this one grabbed me from the start. I love that his heroes aren't he men in constant armed or unarmed combat. The lack of gory and graphic violence was pleasing as well. It's not that this lacked action, it didn't. The story just wasn't centered on the actions so much as the interactions of the characters.

I'm also in awe as to how Powers manages to weld the supernatural to cold war spying. You would think that such disparate subjects wouldn't meld at all but Powers makes it more then plausible. It reminds me a little of Raiders of the Lost Ark in that respect. Yes I know it's not that ark involved in this story.

His use of real life spy Kim Philby made me interested enough to do some cursory research on the man.
I really do love how Powers mixes real history with his fiction and how well researched it is.

This and Anubis Gates are both keepers that I will definitely reread.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,290 reviews120k followers
November 2, 2008
I did not finish reading this 591 page paperback. The writer is making an interesting fusion, of cold war spy book and fantasy. He has Kim Philby, Nazis, Soviets in a world with genies arising from the desert. It was overwritten and finally, I was unable to suspend disbelief any further.
Profile Image for Hallie.
954 reviews124 followers
December 31, 2013
Loved the secret history in here, despite its being all a little lost on me as I knew *nothing* about the British secret service historical characters. Very intense, and extremely engrossing - also appreciated how easy it was to follow the many chronological jumps despite the narrative complexity.
Profile Image for Miloš Petrik.
Author 23 books31 followers
August 10, 2021
Powers chooses not to go against established historical fact, and that's what I find remarkable. There's not a lot of people who would impose such stringent rules and adhere to them, but this only goes to show that one can and should impose constraints upon one's own fiction so as not to let it get away.
Profile Image for Joshua.
370 reviews18 followers
November 12, 2019
I just realised the major theme of this book. Andrew Hale is a fisher, sent to catch and kill leviathans. This story of the fisher is an archetypal story, repeated in many ancient stories. The source is, of course, Christ as the fisher, and as Christians, we are called to fish the unbelievers out of the chaos of godlessness. However, some denizens of the deep must be destroyed: in this story, they are the Jinns, the ancient gods/nephalim who survived the flood. As beings, the Jinn are ontologically positioned against God and his rule, and have been severely restricted as a result (they live in or possess stones). When the Russians seek to harness their power, there can be only one response: to destroy the jinn. So, this is why the passphrase is "Oh Fish, are you faithful to the old covenant?" (perhaps referring to the covenant of God after the flood, or a pre-flood covenant), why the headquarters of the secret service is a boat house (protected from the flood and the leviathans), why Noah's ark seems to be possessed by Jinn (abandoned, it is overrun by the Jinn). This is why Andrew Hale plays the role of bait, more than once, to lure the enemy out, for it is only then that they are exposed and vulnerable. The image of the flood and the whale suffuses the book; the idea of the bait helps tie in the section during which Hale is sending/decoding Russian messages by radio (the atmosphere is full of the ancient spirits, a veritable sea, complete with radio waves). But all the jinn pale in comparison to the guardian spirit of Russia, the real leviathan whom Andrew Hale has to land.

Because these beings are spirits, they do not interact with matter like we do, and are more like creatures of pure thought. Thus, they seek to stop human motion, which they perceive to be wrong and ugly, but this is their weakness, since by moving 'mathematically' you can remain hidden from them. Thus by becoming your enemy, you may destroy your enemy: the ultimate spy, which is the direct opposite of the bait. There is an irony here, in that the mathematical perfection of the jinn is actually an ocean of chaos, because it is an attempt at perfection separate from God. The result is inhumanity.

Related to all this, of course, is the odd thing that makes gin dispel jinn. Alcohol is, symbolically, able to create a kind of possession (As F Scott Fitzgerald said “first you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you”). But it is the possession by the lower passions, the left hand, something that the jinn hate, with their mathematical preference for the sins of the right hand, associated with pride and intellect. I am uncertain why gin was singled out, among alcoholic beverages, as especially potent, but it might just be the homophone - the symbolism of the juniper is not especially strong (compared to an oak), and include acting as a hiding place for biblical characters, and also as the symbol of Ashteroth.

Previous thoughts:
One thing I learnt: jinns don't like gin. Some amazing scenes and stunning plotting happening. Powers manages to insert a supernatural secret history into Kim Philby's life, keeping all the historical details intact. The depictions of jinns as the spirits of natural forces, sandstorms, thunderstorms, stones and water is convincing and terrifying (I especially liked the pool of water that becomes a giant face, and the scene when crossing the desert and geysers of sand shoot up into the air from old wells, and from which stone jinn emerge to confront the travelers). It reminds me of the verse (possibly quoted in the book?) "You make your messengers into winds of the Spirit and all your ministers become flames of fire." Moving from soggy England to the dry and ancient middle east, to frozen Russia, Powers tracks the decades-long operation Declare (complete with card game) to destroy a kingdom of Jinn and ultimately the guardian angel of Russia, the spirit of Communism that protected it ever since Marx died.
Profile Image for Alex.
Author 10 books22 followers
February 27, 2011
A strange fantasy novel about shifting alliances among spies in a world where supernatural entities exist. It's interesting to think about because it's generally hard to figure out what the hero wants. There's a love story. And he's a dedicated spy trying to infiltrate ... something ... but the story unfolds in back-and-forth time -- 1948, then 1963, then 1941, then 1945, then 1963 again. And it changes main characters halfway through. I don't know what the stakes are.The hero is a bit of cipher, as spies sometimes are. What am I rooting for?

In other words it bends all sorts of narrative rules and even arguably breaks some.

Somehow it gets away with it. I wasn't sure why I kept reading it, but I did. Maybe because I wanted to find out what the supernatural powers are, and what exactly happened on Mount Ararat in 1948.

I wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery. That must be it.

There's a fascinating epilog, too. The book creates a whole mythology around the British spy turncoat Kim Philby. It was interesting to read how Powers came up with the story. He was reading biographies of Philby, and kept running across events that suggested a much more interesting story hidden just behind what was written. Why did Philby weep for two days when his pet fox died -- when he had only wept so much for the death of his father? Why did a Saudi sheik give Philby, as a child, a twenty carat diamond? And what was the real meaning between Solomon's offer to split the baby in two?

Powers set himself a rule, as he constructed the story of DECLARE, to abide by all the historical facts, and only conjure up what was behind them.

Fascinating. Worth a read.
Profile Image for William.
Author 394 books1,787 followers
December 28, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Chuck.
215 reviews23 followers
September 10, 2017
I'm jealous of people who loved this book. The premise, the setting, the esoteric combination of subjects that make this part of the "Secret World"-style genre (and it's proximity to my favorite MMO) really energized me. But the book, the prose, the thing itself hammered me down.

Where did it go wrong for me? It starts with the time-jumping in the narrative. It's not a good idea with a small, vague cast of characters discussing complicated, intricate plots of questionable relevance, to jump erratically between say 1920's, 1946 and then 1963, during various stages of the same complicated, vague plots without some grounding. I never felt grounded in what was going on, which could be fine on it's own but this was too overwhelming.

The only part that really grabbed me was Andrew Hale's 3 month stint in Nazi-occupied Paris with Elena. That part was great, it really made it clear just how lost and hopeless the life of an undercover agent behind the lines can be. The romance between these two characters starts off subtly and unstated but becomes imperative and parallels their situation. However the rest of the book becomes a train wreck as it jumps between spy-drama, historical narrative, and bizzare fantasy. I finished it just to finish it.

To the book's credit the afterword by the author was extremely interesting, since now we get some relevance concerning the characters and the author's inspiration. But I think he bit off more than he could chew with this. There's enough stuff here to better pace several smaller novels.
Profile Image for Chris Berko.
464 reviews111 followers
March 4, 2016
Amazing read. I love "discovering" previously (to me) unknown authors who have extensive well reviewed back catalogs of stuff! This is only my second Tim Powers book, behind the equally but for different reasons awesome Stress of Her Regard, and I am going to RUN through a couple of more if you know what I mean. This guy is incredible, where has he been all my life, and blahdidy blah blah. Three cheers for Declare and the joy it brought my life!
Profile Image for Mikko Saari.
Author 3 books180 followers
October 27, 2022
Andrew Hale on palveluksesta vetäytynyt salaisen palvelun agentti. Hän saa vuonna 1963, pitkän hiljaiselon jälkeen, kryptisen puhelun, jossa käytetään salaisia koodeja: hänet kutsutaan takaisin palvelukseen.

Hale on osallisena huippusalaisessa operaatio Declaressa. Kylmä sota on käynnissä, mutta Declaren salaisuudet menevät syvemmälle, kyse on suuremmista asioista. Declare juontaa juurensa kauas ennen toista maailmansotaakin. Hale oli mukana vuonna 1948, kun Declareen liittyvä tehtävä Ararat-vuorella epäonnistui. Mitä vuorella silloin tapahtui, on vaivannut Halea sen jälkeen, ja nyt on aika kohdata Ararat uudestaan.

Tarina liikkuu eri aikatasoilla: sen nykypäivä on vuosi 1963 ja uusi Ararat-operaatio, samalla kerrotaan 1940-luvun tapahtumia – Pariisi 1941, Berliini 1945 – jotka johtavat Halen Araratille vuonna 1948. Tarinaa kerrotaan pääasiassa Halen näkökulmasta, mutta paikoin Powers poikkeaa muihin näkökulmiin tarpeen mukaan.

Declare on huikea vakoojatrilleri, mutta myös paljon muuta. Se ei suotta voittanut World Fantasy Awardia. Powers kirjoittaa Declaressa kylmälle sodalle kiehtovan okkultistisen alatekstin (ja paljastaa todellisen syyn, miksi Neuvostoliitto lopulta romahti). Operaatio Declare liittyy yliluonnollisiin salaisuuksiin, jotka ovat mitä suurimmissa määrin totta.

Kirja kietoutuu Kim Philbyn elämään. Kaksoisagentti Philby on yksi tunnetuimmista vakoojista ja varsin kiehtova henkilö. Declare syntyi Philbyn elämän ympärille. Powers huomasi Philbyn elämää tutkiessaan erilaisia pieniä poikkeamia, selittämättömiä tapahtumia – tämä kirja on Powersin näkemys siitä, mikä nämä poikkeamat aiheutti. Kirja perustuu Philbyn elämän todellisiin tapahtumiin niin paljon kuin mahdollista, mutta täydentää aukkokohdat omalla mielenkiintoisella tavallaan.

Declare on kiehtova kirja. Vakoojatrillerin jännittävä salakoodien, vainoharhan ja hengenvaaran maailma yhdistettynä toisen maailmansodan ja kylmän sodan käänteisiin ja huolella harkittuun okkultistiseen alatekstiin – lopputulos on todella makea yhdistelmä, eikä todellakaan ole ihme, että kirja nappasi World Fantasy Awardin. (19.5.2012)
Profile Image for Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk.
801 reviews94 followers
April 4, 2017
I first heard of "Declare" when reading Charles Stross' "The Atrocity Archives". He talks about being warned not to read Tim Powers' book whilst writing his own. Naturally, I became curious, ordered "Declare" via you-know-who and put it on my shelf... And there it sat. Possibly ruminating.
The other day I picked it up (I think it was guilt... but it may have been something more... ominous?) and read it. I should add that I couldn't put it down.
"Declare" is an intriguing book.
Initially it reads like some sort of spy thriller. In fact, it IS some sort of spy thriller. The opening is slightly intriguing and confusing, disjointed? Certainly it makes you wonder what's going on yet, very soon, we enter the familiar world of the French Resistance, secret radios and brave agents avoiding the clutches of the Gestapo. We even experience the rivalry that was so common between the different Resistance groups (depending on your political affiliations) and, of course, we see the nasty side of the Soviet system also.
But there's something else as well... something... strange.
Must have been something in the gruel, you say, as our agents move on.
And here we have someone VERY familiar, Kim Philby, and we know that things are entering that world of double agents and, very soon, the Cold War...
But there's always that something else... something... Well, it wasn't the German gin and it wasn't the gruel.
I don't believe in spoilers and sadly there will be plenty available - DON'T READ THEM! Read the book instead. Enjoy it, savour it. It's a spy story and a love story. It's Lawrence of Arabia and it's 007. It is, as my copy says, Le Carre plus. It is a wonderful read that will reward your imagination and leave you wanting more. Read it.
Profile Image for Tim Pendry.
980 reviews354 followers
August 6, 2011
Dean Koontz is quoted on the cover of this paperback edition as naming this book a ‘tour de force’. That is just about right.

The book is a mix of Le Carre (‘The Perfect Spy’ springs to mind as well as his earlier Cold War spy thrillers) with quasi-Lovecraftian cosmic horror and it even offers homage to Alistair Maclean towards the end.

But it is also very distinctively Tim Powers. Themes of conspiracy, secrecy, ruthlessness and betrayal are all there as we might expect. It gives nothing away to say that Kim Philby plays a major role in the story.

One has to wonder whether Powers has a paranoid streak in his private life, or has suffered some form of betrayal of trust that drives his work – or is simply a very imaginative miner of a rich literary vein.

Nearly every chapter is preceded by a quotation from Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Kim’ so we are in ‘Great Game’ territory, the central conceit being a struggle between empires through agencies that are beyond secret and exceptionally ruthless in their greater cause. This is classic Powers’ territory.

In this sense, it is rather old-fashioned and is all the better for it. British imperial gentry and public schoolboys as well as tormented Catholics (shades of Graham Greene who also wrote early thrillers are here) are the heroes, with the Americans and the French tagging along for the ride.

On the other side, Stalin’s Soviet Union (and that of his decaying successors) are mere overlay to an earlier Mother Russia whose guardian ‘angel’ is at the centre of the plot (again, no spoilers).

So, it is a politically and culturally conservative book, filled with the nostalgia of all British Atlanticists (of which I am not one) who continue with the pretence that Britain matters and has not degenerated into a rather wealthier Yugoslavia of small nations on the edge of a greater empire.

The book is thus massively entertaining nonsense, by a master of genre fiction, both on grounds of content and ideology but it should equally be lapped up by anyone who lives vicariously through the adventure novel or who seeks the fantastic.

It is certainly rare to see two genres as radically opposed as cosmic horror and the spy thriller merged with such effect but Powers succeeds beyond all expectations.

His earlier ‘Three Days to Never’ frustrated us by being a compulsive read that then degenerated into incomprehensibility. Do not fail to read his appendix about how he came to his conceit but only after reading the book to the end.

This book reverses that 'failing'. It starts with an incomprehensibility that expands into a finely crafted tale of geo-politics and horror (no spoilers here) in which everything is ultimately explained.

Perhaps the only significant criticism is that Powers appears to be so entranced with his own in-depth research that some incidents, especially those set in Paris in wartime, might be regarded as over-lengthy at a time so much of the story cannot yet be understood.

Perhaps he wants you to keep the book for reading a second time and I suspect you might keep it in your library (like his still remarkable ‘The Anubis Gates’) for just that reason. The research that he has put into getting each scene ‘right’ is quite remarkable.

In other words, do not be put off by his determination to be precise and accurate about ambience – whether of Paris, wartime London, post-war Berlin or Cold War Kuwait – because you will lose out on a rollicking adventure story that might even send a chill down the spine.
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416 reviews19 followers
June 5, 2011
The author of this book calls himself a writer or 'speculative fiction,' an interesting term that encompasses fiction, science fiction, fantasy and a smattering of history. He's one of my husband's favorite authors, and this book is my husband's current favorite by this author. I'm not much of a fantasy or sci-fi fan, but this book really seems to have something for everyone, and it's well written to boot. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did.

From a very young age, Andrew Hale knows that he's going to be serving the British crown in some way, and in 1941 he's called on by the British SOE to spy on the communist resistance in Paris by joining the communist party at Oxford where he is studying, then allowing himself to be recruited and trained as a telegraphist. These first pivotal steps, along with the key people he comes into contact with as he executes this assignment, are the basis for greater and more significant adventures over the following 20+ years.

The author starts out with a short but thunderous first chapter, then slowly eases into the backstory, as well as the mayhem and fantasy/sci-fi as the book progresses. It's the perfect blend for someone like me who doesn't necessarily enjoy fantasy fiction...there was enough espionage to get me hooked and believing in the characters. And, by the time the hyper-reality is full blown, I was so involved with the story I did't find it at all annoying.
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