Hour of the Wolf by Andrius B. Tapinas is a tale of intrigue and not a small amount of horror, set in Russia, spanning a period from 1870 to x.
A financially strapped Imperial Russia, suffering corruption and the excessive consumption of its ruling class, is approached by the Rothschild Corporation with a deal; give them several cities with which they can form an Alliance in which they can carry out scientific research, practice alchemy and other pursuits, and in return, they would write off the Empire’s debts and guarantee no interest on credits for 30 years.
To the advisors to Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolajevich, many of whom with their fingers in the till, it seemed like a grand deal. But then, deals with the devil often are.
Anti-Semitic and intensely nationalistic, the Russians quickly begin to look for a way to get out of the deal. But, deals with those who can summon magic – or higher technology – are not so easily broken.
A fanciful tale, rich in local color, culture, and history, Hour of the Wolf will delight fans of mystery, international intrigue, and fantasy alike. It is alternate history that reads like it could have come from the headlines – albeit a counterculture media outlet. It’s not without a touch of humor here and there either. It is a bit heavy with Russian names, but this merely adds to its authenticity. One word of criticism: some of the names are quite complicated, and a little judicious editing is in order to make sure they are consistent throughout the text. Grand duke Konstantin, for instance, is Nikolayovitch in one paragraph and Nikolajevich in a following paragraph on the same page. A minor glitch in what is otherwise an outstanding first novel.
I received a free copy of this book for review, but would have been quite happy to purchase it. I give Hour of the Wolf a solid four stars.