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Wolfhound Century [Paperback]

Peter Higgins
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

21 Mar 2013

A thousand miles east of Mirgorod, the great capital city of the Vlast, deep in the ancient forest, lies the most recent fallen angel, its vast stone form half-buried and fused into the rock by the violence of impact. As its dark energy leeches into the crash site, so a circle of death expands around it, slowly - inexorably - killing everything it touches. Alone in the wilderness, it reaches out with its mind.

The endless forest and its antique folklore are no concern to Inspector Vissarion Lom, 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 terrorism 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 at the children's home.

Lom's investigation reveals a conspiracy that extends to the top echelons of the party. When he exposes who - or rather what - is the controlling intelligence behind this, it is time for the detective to change sides. Pursued by rogue police agents and their man-crushing mudjhik, Lom must protect Kantor's step-daughter Maroussia, who has discovered what is hidden beneath police headquarters: a secret so ancient that only the forest remembers. As they try to escape the capital and flee down river, elemental forces are gathering. The earth itself is on the move.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (21 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575130547
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575130548
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,189,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Higgins read English at Oxford University and Queen's, Ontario. He was a Junior Research Fellow
at Wolfson College, Oxford and worked in the British Civil Service. His short stories have appeared in
Fantasy: Best of the Year 2007, Best New Fantasy 2, Asimov's Science Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, Zahir
and Revelation, and in Russian translation in the St Petersburg magazine Esli. He lives with his family
in South Wales.

www.wolfhoundcentury.com

Product Description

Review

Well paced action.. This world of a totalitarian state pitted against equally extremist revolutionaries is gripping... a solid page-turner. (John Wyatt The Sun)

We can expect great things of Peter Higgins... his debut novel is uniquely intriguing. (SCI FI NOW)

Wolfhound Century is an extraordinarily accomplished debut from a real master of atmosphere. Peter Higgins has managed to create a completely unique fantasy world with a plot that wouldn't be out of place in a modern day thriller. (Doug Smith FANTASY FACTION)

The surprises keep on coming ... but quietly and subtly, like a dreaded knock on the door of an apartment in a brutalist concrete tower block in the dead of night. [An] excellent debut novel. (David Barnett THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

[The] vivid descriptions and pulsing action sequences are very reminiscent of Fleming. Add this to a sci fi mystery, blending an alternate totalitarian state with an ancient mythical world and you have a potent mix. (FANTASY BOOK REVIEW)

There is much to admire in Higgins's writing, and his fantastical inventions are compelling and enjoyable. It's certainly an intriguing thriller. The plot unfolds swiftly and with an engaging clarity. You turn the pages, eager for clues. Events happen. People you were coming to think of as major players get brutally murdered. Still there is a mystery at the heart of things. The world Higgins creates is immersive and often compelling. (Strange Horizons)

With a beautifully descriptive style, this imaginative thriller is impossible to put down. (WE LOVE THIS BOOK)

Whilst Wolfhound Century may be just the first chunk of a bigger story, it is still a finely-written and compelling story. Higgins has created an engrossing fantasy world which is a million miles away from the more played-out ends of the genre and all the better for it. (THE WERTZONE)

Brilliant world-building, great writing, and a pace that challenges you to put it down and then slaps you in the face with a constant niggling itch to return - a truly excellent debut, and Higgins' writing style ensures it just keeps flowing: in merely describing something as simple as a dash through rain-soaked streets, the author leaves you reaching for a towel and shivering from the clinging damp that lingers long after you've moved further down the page. Very highly recommended. (BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY)

Every so often there comes along a book that manages to make you go wow, one that stands out as a book that is destined to become a classic. Last year Osama was such a book; this year Wolfhound Century takes that honour. an incredibly rich, rewarding novel that has an amazing feeling of depth. The use of an alternative noir-tinged Russia complete with the authoritarian, iron-fisted and deeply corrupt bureaucracy works brilliantly with the plodding world-weary gumshoe narrative and bleak, angel-wrought alternative world. The immersion is absolute, carried forward by the rich quality to the prose that borders on the poetic in places. (SFBOOK)

Wolfhound Century is Peter Higgins' debut novel and what a way to begin. There is a strong emphasis on the magical and mythical, with living embodiments of the forest and nature itself interacting with human characters. There's also a strong strand urging people not to be too ambitious and overreach, but to be grounded and in touch with the world around them; this is a frequent theme in fairytales as well as science fiction. It also has that kind of gothic sensibility, where characters play god, creating new strange creatures like the Eastern European 'Golem' but also like Shelley's Frankenstein. Add to this a view of a city inexplicably in flux, ever changing but without explanation, magical or scientific and you have something with the feeling of the most magical realist works of Neil Gaiman. (ADVENTURES WITH WORDS)

His prose style is splendid, his world-building comes across as immersive and encompassing, with hints of a greater world than the plot dictates, and the plot is enticing and promising in and of itself. Beautiful prose, elegant book, exciting times. (ONE CHAPTER MORE)

Like vintage China Mieville, but with all the violent narrative thriller drive of Ian Fleming at his edgiest. (Richard Morgan)

An amazing, fast-paced story in a fantasy world poised dangerously on the edge of quantum probability, a world where angels war with reality. (Peter F Hamilton)

I absolutely loved WOLFHOUND CENTURY. Higgins's world is a truly original creation, Russian cosmism and Slavic mythology filtered through steampunk and le Carre. What really captured me was his beautiful style and language: his metaphors and associations flow smoothly like the waters of the Mir, and, like Lom without his angel stone, make you see the world in a new way. (Hannu Rajaniemi)

Book Description

A gripping SF thriller in a brilliantly realised alternative Russia - a superb debut.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A. Whitehead TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Investigator Vissarion Lom is summoned to Mirgorod, capital of the Vlast, to help investigate a series of terrorist attacks in the city. Josef Kantor, the son of a famous revolutionary, is the chief suspect and Lom is soon on his trail. But a simple manhunt turns into something more serious. An angel has fallen to the earth in the vast forest thousands of miles to the east. A devastating war between the Vlast and a grouping of island-nations to the west is coming to an end. And a spirit of the forest made manifest arrives in the city, seeking a young woman who may hold the key to the world's salvation.

Wolfhound Century has picked up a fair bit of advance buzz as a novel to watch for this year. It's easy to see why. Coming over as the result of a genetic experiment splicing the works of Chine Mieville, Ian Fleming and Robert Holdstock into a single entity, but with a few twists of the author's own invention, it's definitely a refreshing change from Generic Epic Fantasy #312. The book is set in a world where revolvers and airplanes exist alongside nature spirits and giants, a sort-of Soviet Russia that never was but where honest cops still have to get on with foiling crimes, even crimes involving alien space entities and objects of transdimensional quantum power. It's a glorious mash-up of genres and styles that works very well.

Higgins is telling a big story here, but by tightly restricting the points of view to just a few characters and by using short, sharp chapters he is able to get through the story with an enviable economy. Even better, that economy does not prevent the prose from being more ambitious than the SFF norm, with evocative flourishes and place and character undertaken in just a few deft sentences.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely original and beautifully written. 20 May 2014
By Loren
Format:Paperback
This book has a very fragmented beginning. Don't give up; you won't regret it. Engaging characters in a complex world underpinned by an intriguing plot and luscious use of words.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An assured and engaging debut 15 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
In a totalitarian state, where everyone is watched and dissent is crushed without mercy, a disparate set of individuals are trying to change the status quo. But who is fighting for good and who for evil? And what of the bystanders, witnesses and unwilling participants?
In a world very similar to, but not quite our own, the rivers and towns will flood and there will be blood on the snow before the world can change.

Approaching this novel with no preconceptions or expectations, beyond mild curiosity, I found Wolfhound Century to be a thoroughly gripping and rewarding genre-crossing story.
Most of the novel reads like a cold-war thriller, based in a faux 1930s-1950s totalitarian state, with only the lightest coating of fantasy. But, like finger-thin slivers of ice, the fantasy elements puncture the John le Carre environment, gradually melting and merging until the two are inseparable.
And this is where some have appeared to struggle: is this a thriller or a fantasy? For me, it is a bit of both; mostly it is a dark and gripping thriller that uses fantasy to provide a strong element of originality to the story. It is quite clear that the fantasy element, already overtaking towards the end of this book, will be far more dominant in the next novel, but this is no bad thing, the subtlety of the shift is such that you are inescapingly drawn in.
Like a skilled chess game, Higgins introduces a broad range of characters, spread out across his 'not-quite Russia' board, some destined to be mere pawns to be removed when their role is completed, while others will take their place in the final battle.
But, which is which?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rare beast of a debut 16 May 2013
By W.M.M. van der Salm-Pallada TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Wolfhound Century is a rare beast. I'd already read some reviews before receiving my own review copy of the book and I knew I was in for an interesting read. I hadn't expected it to be as interesting and genre-bending as it was, even though I'd been thoroughly warned. It's both noir urban fantasy, featuring a lone-wolf detective, but also a tale of political intrigue, supernatural creatures and alien invasion. Set in an alternate world Russia, the story is both easy and hard to place. Easy because Vlast is clearly the Soviet Union and Mirgorod is a version of Moscow and the atmosphere Higgins invokes is that which is emblematic of the majority view of communist countries: grey, depressing, paranoid, and dangerous. It's hard to place exactly because it is an alternate world version of ours and it is not really clear whether it is just an alternate history set on our planet or set on a secondary world. I'm leaning towards the latter option myself, but it is certainly debatable.

Higgins presents his Vlast with a lot of aplomb. It's clear he knows his Russian and Soviet history well and he takes a lot of its political culture and incorporates it into his own creation. There are many recognisable historical elements, but with interesting twists to them. For example, while the story seems to be set in the equivalent of the USSR, Vlast has existed as a totalitarian state for over four centuries. The biggest twists, of course, are the supernatural ones. The world of the Vlast is sentient, or rather the Forest is sentient and can use its surroundings, the elements, and humans who enter its domain as extensions of its own will.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool
How to describe this one? How to do it justice? In Soviet Russia reviews writes you! Anyway...

Yes, this book takes place in a world that is ours, or maybe it is not our... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Blodeuedd
4.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative and distinctive.
Set in an alternative soviet dimension , Wolfhound Century has some truly original ideas and an intriguing plot. Read more
Published 4 months ago by glen s iceton
5.0 out of 5 stars unexpected and wonderful
I knew nothing about this book, but was intrigued by the premise. It's a wonderful rich and believable world, and a fine story. Read more
Published 4 months ago by J. E. Kelly
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting blend...
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via netgalley.

Investigator Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist -- and... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Liz Wilkins
4.0 out of 5 stars A Superb First Half Of A Bigger Story
Wolfhound Century is the debut novel by author Peter Higgins. A weird tale of espionage in an alternate, fantastical Russia - it's a bit like China Mieville had a party with John... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Idlewilder
2.0 out of 5 stars So So fantasy novel.
OK, the premise: The novel is set in a Fantasy version of Stalinist Russia, a provincial policeman is sent to the capital to search for an arch terrorist. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating hybrid
I found this book rather remarkable in most respects because it is an original hybrid in more senses than one, hence the title of this review. Read more
Published 14 months ago by JPS
3.0 out of 5 stars Good start
Started off extremely well but then get more than a touch SF-mystical, tho not in a brilliant way. The opening premise is brilliant, however -- altho once you've bought in to this... Read more
Published 14 months ago by jack adrian
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking debut
To be honest this book is difficult to categorise as, depending upon who reads it, it'll fall into any number of categories, so the best way that I have to analogise the book, is... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog
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