Over the last few months, I’ve been reading Peter Higgins’ Wolfhound Empire trilogy (Wolfhound Century, Truth and Fear, and Radiant State), a New Weird-styled fantasy trilogy that takes most of the inspiration for its setting from tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union. I agree with Adam Roberts that the trilogy is one of the best fantasy works of the 2010s, but there has been very little attention given to it in most genre circles, online or otherwise. To remedy this, I browbeat persuaded my friend Michal Wojcik over at One Last Sketch to give the trilogy a try, and we’ve put together a series of collaborative reviews of each book. The following two posts will cover our discussion of Wolfhound Century (2013), the first book in the trilogy. Today’s post will cover our discussion of the basics of the novel’s setting and the ways it reworks Russian and Soviet history. Enjoy!
(Edit: Forgive the weird bolding in this post. There’s something screwy with the code somewhere.)
Lost in Leningrad
I read Peter Higgins’s Wolfhound Century after a strong recommendation from fellow blogger Alasdair Czyrnyj. He’ll join me in the next series of posts as we air our thoughts on the Wolfhound Empire trilogy one book at a time.
First, some background. Wolfhound Century takes place in the Vlast, a country bearing the heavy mark of the Soviet Union, manifested particularly in the city of Mirgorod, a swampy cement-covered place that evokes St. Petersburg back when it was called Leningrad. Vissarion Lom comes to Mirgorod to investigate the activities of erstwhile revolutionary Josef Kantor. This thriller-esque procedural plot largely takes a back seat to the cosmology and fantastic weirdness of the Vlast, caught in a struggle between stone angels and an endless forest, industrialized but in a way that incorporates the preternatural. Giants and golems wander the streets as labourers, unremarked but haunting in their normalcy.
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