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Wolfhound Century [Kindle Edition]

Peter Higgins
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.74
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Sold by: Hachette Book Group
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Historical Fiction
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Book Description

Investigator Vissarion Lom has been 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 insurgents 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.

Editorial Reviews


"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

"Sentient water, censored artists, mechanical constructs, old-fashioned detective work, and the secret police are all woven together in this rich and fascinating tapestry."—Publishers Weekly

"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

"Like vintage Mieville or Vandermeer, but with all the violent narrative thriller drive of Fleming at his edgiest. I fell into Wolfhound Century and devoured it in three days flat.Peter Higgins is a great discovery, a gifted writer with a route map to some fascinating new dark corners of the imagination, and a fine addition to the contemporary fantasy canon."
Richard Morgan

"A dark new Soviet alternate history with angels... an alternate history that will grab you by the lapels and snap you to attention."—

"A brilliant exploitation of the power of fantasy: the tender green soul of Russian history set free for uncanny battle with its grey, gunmetal carapace."—Francis Spufford

About the Author

Peter Higgins read English at Oxford and was Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College before joining the Civil Service. He began writing fantasy and SF stories in 2006 and his work has appeared in Fantasy: Best of the Year 2007 and Best New Fantasy 2. He has been published by Asimov's Science Fiction, Fantasy Magazine and Zahir. His short story "Listening for Submarines" was translated and published by the St. Petersburg-based literary magazine Esli. He is married with three children and lives in South Wales.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1116 KB
  • Print Length: 327 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; 1 edition (March 26, 2013)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0092XNB0M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,334 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable April 14, 2013
A solidly written and imaginative fantasy novel melding elements of Russian mythology, Russian history, and Soviet history. Higgins makes good use of the traditional detective hero obsessed with the truth in a corrupt milieu as a central plot element. The incorporation of Russian and Soviet history into the story, including, for example, references to Stalin, Akhamatova, Chagall, and many others, is done cleverly. This is not a stand-alone novel but rather the beginning of a sequence with much to be revealed in future installments. The plotting and quality of writing is more than sufficient to make this book an enjoyable read. Looking forward to the sequel.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Vision Despite Muddied Delivery March 27, 2013
By Ethan
In Wolfhound Century, author Peter Higgins imagines a fantastic, totalitarian state, inhabited by grim characters. In other words, Higgins has crafted his vision of 1940's Russia. The story mainly follows investigator Vissarion Lom, as he attempts to capture a terrorist. Intrigue is instantly put on display as Lom is ordered to report directly to the head of the Secret Police. Despite the image of power and order that the state projects, Lom discovers the state to be full of power struggles and battles between the state police and radical revolutionaries.

Adding to all of this is a muddied attempt by the author to impart elements of fantasy and Russian folklore to this otherwise straight-forward crime thriller. When I first read of the crime leader dealing with a possession of the mind reminiscent of something out of an exorcism film, I immediately felt disconnected from the story. While I believe that Higgins does a commendable job at building his vision of Russia, there comes a point when too many details become cumbersome and distract from the story.

I'm convinced that within the many names of places, people, and muddied descriptions of Russian myth, there is a good story. Despite never really getting into a strong flow, I couldn't help but continue reading to the next chapter (short chapters probably helped with this issue). The story itself is fairly convincing, and all of the plot lines come to a satisfying point. Unfortunately, the narrative just stops, which I'm assuming means a sequel to this novel is in the works. For my tastes, however, I just can't get over the style of Higgin's writing to justify reading a future installment.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In Vlast Russia, magic does YOU. April 17, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What we've got here is a rather unique, if flawed (but not fatally), first novel which *really* promises More To Come. Hopefully--no, almost *certainly*-- the forthcoming volumes of this what-I-presume-will-be-a-trilogy (as all great works of fantasy are) will fulfill those promises...and then some.

Fantastic versions of Soviet Russia are not common--though not as rare as some reviewers of this novel believe--but the only one I can think of offhand that uses Russian folklore *and* Soviet realpolitik like Wolfhound Century is Liz Williams' Eight Layers of Sky...and Wolfhound Century is far, far grimmer, colder, and strange than Eight Layers.

Higgins does for Soviet Russia (specifically Stalinist-Era Moscow) what China Mieville did for Victorian London: take a real place and time, give it a thin veneer of different history and names, and then inject subtle--or not-so-subtle--elements of the Weird. In Higgins' case, he brings in golems made of the stony flesh of fallen angels (who, apparently, rain down upon the earth like meteorites every now again, slain in some kind of vague, hinted-at cosmic war which has also split the world's moon into two fragments), giants (a gypsy-like minority population), earth, wind, and water elementals that arise naturally from the earth, and other fantastic elements that partake of both Siberian shamanist myth and Lovecraftian cosmic horror.

The greatest horror, the greatest weirdness in the novel, though, is the State of the Vlast itself, with its endless paranoia, conspiracies, murders, disappearances, and pogroms--and the just-as-violent revolutionaries fighting the system only in the interest of placing their own hands within the iron fist of the absolutist state.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I got bored February 5, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I got bored and didn't finish the book. I generally like books set in fantasy settings with a Slavic theme so it seemed interesting. But it was very slow and seemed contrived at points. It was also hard to follow because there seemed to be background material missing explaining what some things were and the history behind what was happening.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unanswered questions April 10, 2013
Wolfhound Century leaves the reader with a bucketful of unanswered questions. I imagine a sequel is in the works. Until it arrives, I'm not sure whether to call Wolfhound Century fantasy or science fiction. The strong elements of fantasy may turn out to have a science-based explanation -- there are some hints of that -- but for the moment, they have no explanation at all.

Angels have been at war for four hundred years. Some have fallen to Earth (or an alternate version of Earth), landing in the Vlast (an alternative version of Russia). When Archangel fell, he became stuck in the planetary crust. His goal is to escape from his prison and return to the stars as the dominant force in the universe. Before that can happen, he must destroy the Pollandore.

Josef Kantor, like his father before him, is a rebel who supports a free and independent Lezarye. He is plotting a coup to bring down the Vlast's leadership. But does Kantor have a hidden agenda?

The hero of Wolfhound Century (to the extent that one exists) is Vissarion Lom, a police investigator stuck in the provinces who has been denied promotion for eleven years due to an "attitude problem." Lom is summoned to the Ministry of Vlast Security in Mirgorod and tasked with finding Kantor. He is bedeviled in that duty by ... well, perhaps they are best described as "unseen forces." But Lom is different from most police officers. For that matter, he's different from most people, for reasons that only start to be revealed toward the novel's end.

Wolfhound Century is full of characters, and they are all bestowed with unique and detailed personalities. They make the novel worth reading. Lom's friend, Vishnik, roams Mirgorod, documenting its decay with his camera.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Did not get past 3rd chapter-ugh
It did not keep my interest and I threw it out. I did not even donate it to the library.
Published 9 days ago by Packrat
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant novel with gorgeous language -- and I don't even like...
When I read the preview of this book on Kindle my first thought was that it might be another Russian detective novel set in the far east near Siberia. Read more
Published 3 months ago by lightly
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Soviet-style setting
Wolfhound Century is one of those books with vivid imagery and an immersive world that trap you when you start reading them and you can only stop once you have finished. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Sylvia
3.0 out of 5 stars An Incredible World, a very forgettable delivery...
Wolfhound Century is a very frustrating book. It starts VERY slowly as a Soviet Style crime novel where a budding revolutionary means to take down the regime and our hero is... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Timothy Pecoraro
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to Be Missed!
In Wolfhound Century, Peter Higgins has created a wonderful world blending alternate history and fantasy. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Deborah
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark urban fantasy in Russian traditional style
What the heck is a Wolfhound Century? The book's name is taken from a prefatory quote from Osip Mandelstam, a poet persecuted by Stalin. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Anonymouse
4.0 out of 5 stars A very original debut
Now that I have had a good taste of the speculative fiction that is to be released in 2014, I can now declare that 2014 is the year of the spectacularly original debut novel,... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Monica Mileti
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent prose. but it lost me
The author is a true wordsmith using excellent descriptive prose. Evocative and eloquent descriptions of the main character (Lom), his surroundings and his thoughts build an... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Dot334
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different, Horrible World
What would most people assume should they see the giant body of a winged human materialize from nowhere and then fall to the ground at great speed, dead? Angels? Probably. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Richard Jones
3.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Worldbuilding, Beautiful Writing, But Missing Act 3?
WOLFHOUND CENTURY by Peter Higgins is a fascinating story that takes place in an alternate, magical Soviet Russia, but it ultimately feels like it’s missing Act 3. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Eric Christensen
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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.

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