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The Violent Century [Kindle Edition]

Lavie Tidhar
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

John le Carr� meets Alan Moore's The Watchmen in this stunning novel by one of science fiction's most original voices.

For seventy years they guarded the British Empire. Oblivion and Fogg, inseparable friends, bound together by a shared fate. Until one night in Berlin, in the aftermath of the Second World War, and a secret that tore them apart.

But there must always be an account... and the past has a habit of catching up to the present.

Now, recalled to the Retirement Bureau from which no one can retire, Fogg and Oblivion must face up to a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism - a life of dusty corridors and secret rooms, of furtive meetings and blood-stained fields - to answer one last, impossible question: What makes a hero?

'Espionage inhabits a sort of parallel universe. Lavie Tidhar has taken this idea and run with it, creating a sophisticated, moving and gripping take on 20th century conflicts and our capacity for love and hate, honour and betrayal.' Daily Mail

Product Description


An emerging master." (Locus)

Young, ambitious, skilled and original. (Christopher Priest, author of The Prestige.)

He is a political writer, an iconoclast and sometimes a provocateur ... Osama is a remarkable and ambitious work. (China Mieville on Osama.)

Where do heroes come from? How are friendships made? What makes us human? These are the questions that Lavie Tidhar grapples with, in this story of friendship writ large upon a canvas that stretches from the 1930s to the present day, in a slightly alternate world where superheroes exists, but heroics mean different things to different people. Choices made in the second world war resonate down through a series of brilliantly detailed cold war scenes, ultimately wrestling with the idea of the self. This is a big, ambitious book that manages to deliver. (Glen Mehn

vintage Lavie, and also I think his most fully accomplished novel yet. Nobody rides that fast-rolling wave separating schlocky pulp and serious literary sensibilities so deftly as Tidhar. He manages to make serious points about the benighted twentieth-century and its obsession with 'supermen' without ever letting the narrative slacken or the adventure pale. If Nietzche had written an X-Men storyline whilst high on mescaline, it might have read something like VIOLENT CENTURY. (Adam Roberts, author of Jack Glass blurb)

An alternative history tour-de-force. Epic, intense and authentic. Lavie Tidhar reboots the 20th century with spies and superheroes battling for mastery - and the results are electric. (Tom Harper, author of THE ORPHEUS DESCENT blurb)

Dig it, kats and kittens: THE VIOLENT CENTURY is a brilliantly etched phantasmagoric reconfiguring of that most sizzling of eras - the twilight 20th. Lavie Tidhar lays it out like a dystopian dog!!! This book has it ALL: time travel, political intrigue, hellacious history itself!!! You've got superheroes in the guise of regular humans, you've got World War II!!! Viva Lavie Tidhar - "The Violent Century" is a torrid tour de force!!!!! (James Ellroy)

Tidhar has written a fantastic novel... I can't wait to read Osama and anything else of his that I can get my hands on... Definitely recommended. (Civilian Reader)

A love story and meditation on heroism, this is an elegiac espionage adventure that demands a second reading. (Metro)

Provides an insight into what it takes to be human, and what can happen when we lay that humanity aside. It's a powerful novel, which will no doubt reward rereading. (Sci-Fi bulletin)

Book Description

They'd never meant to be heroes.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 987 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00GU2NEZA
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (24 Oct. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #24,748 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Violent Century 19 Jan. 2014
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
I had to think about this book for a while before writing the review, just to mull it all over. This is an absolutely fantastic book, I had no doubt about that; but how to review and explain it to a new reader?

What do Fogg and Oblivion have in common? Not fog and oblivion; but Fogg and Oblivion. They are both `changed'; members of the Bureau, those shadowy observers who have been affected by the change generated by Vomacht's machine, enrolled in the team led by the Old Man. Found and trained in the lead up to the Second World War, a large part of this story takes place during that war; the horrors on the Eastern Front, in the depths of Germany, in Paris, across Europe and beyond. But the end of the War is just the beginning. Because for the changed, the War never ends.

The author has written comics and screenplays as well as novels, and that's what this novel `sounds' like, if I can put it like that. Actually it's a bit like watching a movie; scenes change, we see people and actions and they scroll before us. Indeed the novel shifts between scenes; 164 of them in all. At first, the method of narrative is short, blocky with no speech marks around speech. It took me a few pages of this to get it straightened out in my head, but then it just seemed to flow, like it was visual, unfolding into the scenes without the need for such things. Let me give you an example:

Oblivion nods. As though he understood more than the words. Your smokescreen? he says, softly.
- It's just habit, Fogg says.
Oblivion nods. I remember.
- Old tradecraft, Fogg says. Sounds sheepish.

I absolutely loved this book; it was clever, ambitious, stunningly original; a brilliantly clever weave of fact and `maybe' fact/fiction - who knows for sure?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Out in the cold 10 Dec. 2013
The first thing to address reviewing this book - the unavoidable, obvious, distinctive thing - is the style. When I was 30 or 40 pages in, I nearly gave up with it. The way it's written is so distinctive, so odd. No speech marks. Present tense. Laconic. like this:

The Old Man says, Where is the boy?
- He's waiting, Deutsch says.
- Then let's pick up the pace, shall we?

Hovering over all is an unseen "we". We see this or hear that. "We" is a jaded, slightly cynical voice. Seen it all, or most of it. Heard nearly as much. It's almost the voice of an omnipotent narrator, but not quite. "We" sometimes shrugs, not totally sure about events, but in charge, all the same.

It was all madly annoying to me, at first. But I carried on, and I'm glad I did, because fairly soon, everything clicked and I wasn't enjoying the book despite the style, the voice, but through the style and voice. There's something about it that makes the whole span of the story - with all its hops back and to, from pre war England to the Eastern Front, to Russia, to various murky cold war corners, to a shadowy secret Bureau in the present day - all present at once. It's like a non-visual comic book, perhaps, or maybe that's too pretentious. Whatever, it makes this story.

And what a story it is. Wrapped round the perhaps hoary conventions of a Smiley-esque espionage plot - the faithful servant not allowed to depart in peace, but called back by the Old Man for one final debrief - we have a story of love, of rivalry, but above all of strangeness. Fogg - the hero, if the book has one: it's a moot point - is one of the "changed" - superheroes, created by a freak event in 1932.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Persevere, you you will find a real gem here 21 April 2014
At first this book was a real struggle, i lost count of the number of times I nearly put it down in the first 30 pages. The constant time jumping of the narrative and the unorthodox punctuation, along with his writing style really didn't click with me at all.

But then, without really realising it it drew me in. A bit like a black and white film (or movie for you Americans!) the points which annoyed me at first simply faded, no longer relevant. The story drew me in, the characters were great - the relationship between Fog and Oblivion is subtle and believable.

Set WWII and its aftermath, it provides a brilliant backdrop to which the individual stories of the characters play out. Obviously things have had to be changed to allow inclusion of these 'super men', but wherever possible Lavie Tidhar has preserved the real life characters and events that happened, and he has done it very well indeed.

If you can get past the initial difference of the writing (and please do) sit down in a quiet corner and enjoy this book. I am glad I did.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for me.. 20 Nov. 2013
By Liz Wilkins TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
**3.5 stars simply for concept and story**

I didnt finish this one, got halfway then realised I was just not with it - The writing style just didnt click with me. HOWEVER the story concept is terrific, and I liked the characters. But the purely descriptive prose, with even the speech being written as description, as an example :


The other says, there's a girl in there, she can make fire. Clicks his fingers. Says, Like that. Must be handy Fogg says. The other shrugs. Takes a drag. Blows out smoke. Fogg,idly,makes it into tiny airships that burst apart. Girl in here she can spit at stuff. Break it. Like she's firing bullets, the other says around the cigarette.

End Quote

just did not click with my reading brain. Do not let this put you off if you like the sound of the tale however - this is a purely subjective thing for me.. the next reader will adore it. There is nothing actually "wrong" with this book just was not for me.

Happy Reading Folks!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant take on the superhero genre and much more besides
Brilliant take on the superhero genre and much more besides, worthwhile for fans across the spectrum really, not just SFF.
Published 9 days ago by Tom
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant. A rather perfect book
Brilliant. A rather perfect book. Fragments of it are still swirling around in my mind almost a year after I finished reading it.
Published 2 months ago by Dr Enoch
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly superb.
A sprawling, sweeping spy super powers story about at its heart the greatest power man has: love. Another triumph by Lavie Tidhar.
Published 2 months ago by Mr. Stuart D. Davies
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
not bad
Published 8 months ago by anthony parvin
4.0 out of 5 stars Four star WWII adventure
This is a clever and witty look at the superhero mythos and a fascinating alternative view of WWII. Energetically written, a real page turner.
Published 10 months ago by Mr. E. Cox-gardner
4.0 out of 5 stars emotional punch
This is the only book of Tidhars i have read. It rather reminded me of a cross between Watchmen and ishiguros never let me go. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Ian Morrison
5.0 out of 5 stars A (fictional) history of the 20th Century!
It reads like a blend of a John Le Carrè spy novel and a sc-fi spoof.
Well written though harrowing in places. A very good read!.
Published 15 months ago by Mr. N. J. Ryalls
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
While I read a large volume of books, this is my first book review.

Buy this book and read it, you will enjoy it.

Thank you
Published 16 months ago by Stuart Newman
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and evocative account of the 20th century's darkest days
With 2014 just around the corner, one would hardly want to forget that the 20th century was a time of conflict for so much of the world. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Kate
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