Theater of Spies

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 07 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

This was my first Stirling novel, and one of the few alternate histories I've read (The Man In The High Castle may be the only other one). Technically it's a sequel, but I had no trouble following the story without having read the first one. The divergences between our world and this one are large: Teddy Roosevelt is President when World War I breaks out; the Germans invent a nerve gas and employ it to decimate France (and have their sights set on England and the United States); and they have apparently invented radar, or at least a prototypical version of it.

Two secret Black Chamber operatives were behind foiling the gas attempt on the U.S., and their well-earned leave is interrupted by a mission to Germany to uncover the new invention and prevent its use against the Allies. The fact that they are lesbians who are married is both a historical anomaly and a cheap plot device (although there is nothing explicit, just suggestion). The story works because it is a thriller with convincing plot twists: the operatives employ spy techniques to make furtive progress on their mission, until the climax requires bigger action. And the ending promises further conflict with their nemesis, a German secret agent with an almost supernatural survival instinct.

Thanks to NetGalley for an Uncorrected Proof of the book.
Was this review helpful?
I loved the first novel in this series.  This one just did not catch me as much.  I found the first half to be very slow with more description and very little action.  Don't know if I will continue.  Hope the next one is more action packed.
Was this review helpful?
this is the second book in the "Black Chamber" series, written in an alternated time line that starts with the election of Teddy Roosevelt in 1912.  The series follows the alternated timeline as the 'First World War' is underway and America is involved from the beginning of the war.  This is not as strong a start as the books written about "The Change, but hopefully they'll get better..

Zeb Kantrowitz
Was this review helpful?
"Theater of Spies" eBook was published in 2019 (May) and was written by S. M. Stirling (https://smstirling.com). Mr. Stirling has published more than 40 novels. This is the second novel in his "Tales from the Black Chamber" series. 

I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is set in the US and Europe of World War I. This story is set in an alternate timeline where Teddy Roosevelt is again the US president and is leading the US aggressively in opposition to the Germans. The primary characters are longtime Black Chamber operative Luz O'Malley and her new genius partner and love interest Ciara Whelan. 

O'Malley and Whelan are recovering and enjoying some 'alone time' at the home in California that O'Malley inherited from her family. That R&R is cut short when they are ordered to Europe to find out about a new weapon system that the German Imperial Navy is developing. 

They must travel by airship to South America, then to Africa under a false identity. Then they make their way behind enemy lines into Berlin to discover the details of the German weapon. They encounter German agents along the way and struggle to survive to arrive at their destination. 

O'Malley and Welan need to use their skills to penetrate a plant in Germany, then escape. Making things more challenging, the German agent known as Imperial Sword who the two had dealt with in the first novel of the series ("Black Chamber") is on their trail and is desperate to have his revenge. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the 14.5 hours I spent reading this 464-page alternate history thriller. I have read and been a fan of S. M. Stirling for several years. I have always liked his characters and detailed plots woven in most cases with an alternate timeline. I like the selected cover art. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

Further book reviews I have written can be accessed at https://johnpurvis.wordpress.com/blog/. 

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).
Was this review helpful?
This would not have been a book that I would have normally picked up, but I managed to finish 90% of the book in one day, that's how much I was involved in the story. I think it was the interesting alternative history that the story portrays. You want to keep reading because you want to know what is different than reality. This is a book about spies and the thrill of chase. A wonderful story.
Was this review helpful?
I really wanted to like this book for its take on an alternate history of World War I and its strong women characters.  Perhaps after reading the first in the series, this number two will make more sense and readers will care more about the characters. However, after reading 40% of the e-galley, the action seemed to be going nowhere fast and I gave up.
Was this review helpful?
I was unable to finish the book because I couldn't stand Luz. I got about 30% through but her personality and knowitall-ness really grated on my nerves. The setting was amazing and well thought out, but I couldn't make it through another book of Luz knowing just the right thing at the right moment or intuiting things exactly as she needed to. I know this will be good for other people, but I couldn't make myself finish it.
I didn't post this review anywhere else because I didn't think it was fair to Stirling's other readers who enjoy this series.
Was this review helpful?