My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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.