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Declare Mass Market Paperback – June 4, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This supernatural suspense thriller crosses several genres--espionage, geopolitics, religion, fantasy. But like the chicken crossing the road, it takes quite a while to get to the other side. En route, Tim Powers covers a lot of territory: Turkey, Armenia, the Saudi Arabian desert, Beirut, London, Paris, Berlin, and Moscow. Andrew Hale, an Oxford lecturer who first entered Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service as an 18-year-old schoolboy, is called back to finish a job that culminated in a deadly mission on Mount Ararat after the end of World War II. Now it's 1963, and cold war politics are behind the decision to activate Hale for another attempt to complete Operation Declare and bring down the Communist government before Moscow can harness the powerful, other-worldly forces concentrated on the summit of the mountain, supposed site of the landing of Noah's ark. James Theodora is the über-spymaster whose internecine rivalry with other branches of the Secret Intelligence Service traps Hale between a rock and a hard place, literally and figuratively. There's plenty of mountain and desert survival stuff here, a plethora of geopolitical and theological history, and a big serving of A Thousand and One Nights, which is Hale's guide to the meteorites, drogue stones, and amonon plant, which figure in this complicated tale. There's a love story, too, and a bizarre twist on the Kim Philby legend that posits both Philby and Hale as the only humans who can tame the powers of the djinns who populate Mount Ararat.

This is an easy book to get lost in, and Powers's many fans will have a field day with it. The rest of us may have a harder time. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Powers (The Anubis Gates, etc.), known hitherto as an expert fantasy writer, has created a mind-bending mix of genres here, placing his gifts for extreme speculative fiction in service of a fantastical spy story involving rivalries between no fewer than four intelligence services: British, French, Russian and American. In 1963, Andrew Hale is summoned to reenter the secret service. He has a past embracing anti-Nazi activities in Occupied ParisAwhere he fell in love with Elena, a Spanish-born Communist operativeAand a spectacularly unsuccessful mission on Mount Ararat in 1948, the purpose of which only gradually becomes clear. Powers posits that the mountain, as the speculative last home of Noah's Ark, is also the dwelling place of many djinns, supernatural beings that often take the form of rocks in the Arabian deserts. The father of British spy Kim Philby, a noted Arabist, had been a keen observer of these phenomena and taught his son about them. Now it seems that a supernatural power, manifesting itself as an old woman, is safeguarding the Soviet Union, and if fragments of a destroyed djinn can be introduced into Moscow, they could destroy her protection and make the Soviet Union susceptible to normal human laws. This is Hale's mission. In 1948 it failed, and most of his commando force was destroyed. On his return 15 years later, with Philby, Hale succeeds in shooting fragments of djinn into Philby, who then returns to Moscow. Upon Philby's death many years later, the Soviet Union duly collapses. The styles of spy fiction, with dense counterplotting and extremes of caution, and the spectacular supernatural scenes simply do not blend. It's all offbeat and daringly imaginative, but ultimately rather foolish entertainment. (Jan. 9) Forecast: This original novel, despite its strengths, is unlikely to satisfy fully fans of either spycraft or fantasyAand such is the pitfall of genre-bending. A 6-city author tour plus vigorous promotion online and off could give the book some turbo power, though.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch (June 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380798360
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380798360
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #506,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Declare" is a daring blend of spy and fantastorical genres. Tim Powers takes his familiar brand of historical mysticism and inserts it into Cold War European politics. In his afterward to the novel, Powers outlines the genesis of "Declare". He studied the biographies of Russian spy Kim Philby and the British agent commonly known as Lawrence of Arabia. Powers found unexplained time periods and unusual occurences. He filled in the gaps with pieces of his fictional story, all of which resulted in a fascinating and very well-written story.
The story tracks a fictional Englishman, born with the gift for bizarre dreams. British secret service drafts him as a child and not many years later places him into service as a secret agent. What follows is a powerful tale that jumps over various time periods and locales, filled with Russian spies, Nazi plots and all-powerful djinn.
As a devotee of both fantastic fiction and spy thrillesr I was treated to a masterpiece of bothe genres. The political plotting kept me on the edge of my chair. The demonic djinn left me enthralled. I particularly enjoyed the scenes of the assault on the djinn's habitat on Mount Ararat. Very compelling reading.
A word of warning however. I've spoken with several diehard Tim Powers fans who feel that is not one of his stronger works. I disagree with their opinions on early Powers novels as well as this one. If you're a big fan of his "On Stranger Tides" and "The Stress of Her Regard" you may be disappointed by "Declare". But as those same Powers aficionados said, even lesser Powers is great reading. I highly recommend "Declare".
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tim Powers does not write ordinary books. From my ancient copy of 'The Drawing of the Dark' until now, Powers has managed to find a unique vision with each new effort. Even in a genre that is noted for its imaginative flare. This time he has produced a novel that is part John Le Carre, part John Milton, and part H. P. Lovecraft, and, of course, all Tim Powers.
The story starts in 1963, when Andrew Hale, a minor British academic, is called back into action by one of England's most obscure espionage organizations. On top of Mount Ararat things are stirring, and Andrew's assignment is to foil the efforts of a Russian expedition intended to establish further communication with the residents of that legendary mountain. These are those who have 'looked on God's face and will see it nevermore,' those fallen angels that did not plummet all the way to hell, but remain here with us. He is uniquely qualified for this task, having already had several brushes with these alien spirits.
Hale shares this story with a collection of characters that, at first, appear to be mundane spies doing ordinary undercover sorts of things. But, gradually, almost one word at a time, each reveals unexpected qualities and powers. Elena, a Russian spy whom Hale falls in love with teaches him how to walk with a pacing that makes him invisible. Kim Philby, another British spy, is actually a Russian agent. He has some strange linkage to Hale, and was born with the knack for being in two places at once.
Powers tells this tale in parallel, gradually bringing the story of Hale's origins, the making of him into a spy, his work during World War II, and his several brushes with the demonic into sharper and sharper focus. Initially, this is a bit confusing, for we see the bits of plot and character out of order.
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Format: Hardcover
The problem with reading a Tim Powers book, and, believe me, it is a problem of the best kind, is that Mr. Powers overestimates the intelligence of his readers. If only other authors had such a problem.
"Declare" can be called a brilliant novel, if only. If only you know about Kim Philby, Lawrence of Arabia, Rudyard Kipling, Arabic folklore, djinn etc. I have read everything that Mr. Powers has written and I have only one suggestion to make to him. Please include a foreword to your novels that states the following; if you want to enjoy this novel to the fullest, please read the following books first.
Mr. Powers assumes that the reader is conversant with all the historical events that he bases his wonderful stories on, but, unfortunately, this isn't always the case. When I first read "Stress of Her Regard" I thought it was rather dry and contrived. But then I did a little research into the lives of Byron and Shelley and realized what a brilliant book it is. (A little knowledge of the Arthurian legends, specifically the Fisher King lore, is also of great benefit when reading much of Powers' work.)
Don't get me wrong. I love the fact that Mr. Powers writes with the basic assumption that his readers are intelligent and have read these basic source materials. But it would be great for him/or his publishers to give us a short reading list in the preface in order that we might fully appreciate his genius.
Just an opinion.
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By Mike on February 19, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished Declare and it's my first Tim Powers read. On the good side is almost everything there is to like about a book. I like both espionage and occult fiction so the subject matter couldn't be better. The main characters were interesting and fully fleshed-out, and the plot was interesting. But I just found it tedious to get through. It is a long book and it took me forever to finish it. I didn't find it to be a compulsive page-turner, to say the least. But obviously lots of other people did enjoy it, so it's probably just me. If you're going to tackle it, it would be a good idea to read the Wikipedia entries for Lawrence of Arabia and especially Kim Philby if you're not already familiar with their stories because they do figure prominently in the book.
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