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Wolfhound Century

(Wolfhound Century #1)

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  897 ratings  ·  184 reviews
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 r
Hardcover, 303 pages
Published March 26th 2013 by Orbit (first published March 23rd 2013)
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Average rating 3.53  · 
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Nov 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the China Miévilliest book that was ever China Miévilled by someone other than China Miéville.
Read the Review Here:

“Very dark, very gritty and very atmospheric. Wolfhound Century is also a book free of genre constraints, allowing for a great original and entertaining read. Top Notch stuff by Peter Higgins.” ~The Founding Fields

Every so often you come across a book that is impossible to fit into a single genre, and Wolfhound Century hits that spot perfectly. It seems like a weird combination of alternate history, fantasy and the good old noir crim
Received to review via Netgalley

There’s something compelling about Wolfhound Century; when people talk about the beautiful style and language, they’re quite right. And the comparisons to Miéville are also, I think, fair. My issue was that it was all weirdly half-familiar — sort of Russian, sort of a mystery, sort of a thriller — and I couldn’t catch hold of any of it to really follow a thread through the story. Lom is okay as a character, but he feels empty, like a cipher. That doesn’t really ge
Althea Ann
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up because it was described a being very similar in style to China Mieville.
It was - but I don't think it felt derivative at all.
It was sort of like if Mieville met Martin Cruz Smith met Philip Kerr. It may sound strange, but I don't think it's a bad thing at all.

Set in an alternate Soviet state, Vissarion Lom is a 'good' cop, who sees it as an unexpected opportunity when he's called to the capital to undertake a secret investigation. But of course - he gets into far more than he e
Matt Brady
Inspector Vissarion Lom is a cop, an incorruptible man frustrated with the oppressive bureaucracy and hypocrisy of the institution he serves, trapped in an unimportant provincial precinct and denied the promotions he thinks he deserves. Josef Kantor is a political revolutionary and a terrorist, utterly committed to his Cause, recently released from a twenty year stint in a forced labour camp and now causing endless trouble in the capital of Mirgorod. Lom is set on Kantor’s trail, hand-picked for ...more
Aug 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
WOLFHOUND CENTURY is a promising debut novel, both well conceived and original. It's a fantasy world based on the Soviet Union under Stalin (although I noted a couple of references to Hitler as well), run on cruel magics of brute power and domination, faced off against the remnants of an older magical force apparently based on Slavic folk tales. It's an interesting and original world that I would have liked to see explored in more depth. Higgins is also a smart enough writer to make both his her ...more
Blodeuedd Finland
How to describe this one? How to do it justice? In Soviet Russia reviews writes you! Anyway...

Yes, this book takes place in a world that is ours, or maybe it is not our world. We have a "Russia" turned "Soviet", ruled by a ruthless dictator, revolutionaries running around in the streets bombing stuff, a war with a place called The Archipelago, and that is all we learn of that. But that is only the beginning. There is a vast vast forest, there are creatures from Slavic mythology, there are Gods t
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here:

Vissarion Lom of the Podchornok provincial police, has tried many times to get transferred to the capital city of the great Vlast, Mirgorod. He eventually gets his wish, but when he arrives, he finds out that he’s been summoned to catch a revolutionary by the name of Josef Kantor. Kantor, an “impresario of destruction”, is responsible for countless lives lost and horrendous atrocities in the name of freedom, and he’s also
Sharon Burgin
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has everything: giants, angels, mystery, crime; all based in a timeless world that appears to be run like Russia was in the last century. Morals abound. Strange creatures appear. Good tries to overcome evil.

Peter Higgins draws you in to the world where strange creatures are accepted as everyday occurrences. There are several subplots all neatly tied together. Inspector Vissarion Lom is hunting for a terrorist, but he uncovers something more sinister. The World he knows is about to chan
Nov 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I don't strictly know that I'm qualified to review this book, given that I only have a surface-level understanding of the history of the Soviet Union and can't speak to the cultural themes Higgins is drawing on here, but damn if I didn't enjoy reading it.

The plot hook is that in fantasy not-USSR, an unpopular inspector from a rural area is called into the capital of the not-USSR to find a revolutionary leader and report on him. Immediately there are strange things about the setting: the capital
Karl Ruben
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
There’s a vast, impenetrable, unknowable forest right there, brushing up against a familiar city of men. It’s right there, and it shouldn’t be.

This isn’t the first of the fantastical elements we’re introduced to in Wolfhound Century, but this is the image that stayed with me, that really sucked me into the Vlast, Peter Higgins’ alternate Soviet Russia. Even with angels (or “angels”, rather) and giants popping up in its first pages, the Vlast's towns and cities feel very familiar, with their mugg
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
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, Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins being no exception. This novel is extremely hard to delegate to one genre, as it effortlessly dances the line between alternate history, fantasy, and noir crime fiction. It is set in an alternate history to 1940’s Stalinist Russia, and brings more than just the physical setting to play in ...more
John Cowell
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
First thing you need to know about Wolfhound Century is: you do not talk about ...

No no, Wolfhound Century is a brilliant read. The prose especially is a delight--verastile and often poetic, full of imagery but also rich with full sensory experience--(you can tell Higgins is a lover of the language), but there were a few missteps along the way, where the beauty of the prose got in the way of the events being described; thank god such occurences were few and far between, because Wolfhound Century
I’ve read several novels over the last few years that were compared to China Miéville by reviewers, publishers, or both. In most cases, I thought the comparison was a stretch, to say the least. In some cases, it was simply ludicrous. Setting your fantasy novel in a grimy city where it rains a lot is not enough. Not every weird/slipstream dystopia qualifies. There is more to it than that.

When Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins arrived on my doorstep, featuring a prominent quote by Richard K. Morg
Mikko Saari
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Gorgeous world-building, all sorts of good stuff with the sci-fi soviet noir setting, but — and this is a huge but — there's simply no ending to the book. None. The book ends like a chapter ends. No closure whatsoever. Obviously sequel is in works, and hopefully arrives soon, because this book doesn't stand alone. I recommend waiting until a sequel is out before reading this one... I was very disappointed in the ending, but the storyso far is promising. ...more
I have not read Gorky Park, yet. But I have seen the movie and this book reminds me of that with the added bonus of fantasy and without the unbelievable romantic sub-plot. ...more
Miloș Dumbraci
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent and highly original worldbuilding, bizarre and rich a la Mieville imagination, deep, suffocating, dark and very noir atmosphere. Some characters well shaped (Kantor, Vishnik), some not so much, including the main ones (Lom and Maroussia). Unfortunately, the story itself is rather thin and bare, also somewhat disjointed. I will definitely read the rest of the trilogy, hoping that, having liberated himself from the worldbuilding, the author will provide a better storyline.
PS. Because of
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, scribd, 2018
Well, this is a pretty wild book. It takes place in a sort of alternative Russia/Soviet Union. There's all the repressions, terror, anarchist activity, etc. you might expect from that. But there are also giant fallen angels (one's still alive), rusalkas, giants, golem-like creatures, corrupt officials, and a Forest that wants to reclaim the world.

It's all pretty interesting, and the first volume ends with a lot of action. I've already started listening to the second one.
Anne Leonard
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
So I really really liked this book. I’m writing about it not as a review but as way to articulate what I enjoyed so much. I’ve read a lot of books over the last year that were much acclaimed as mind-bending or fantastic or important or whatever, none of which have really bent my mind. I picked up this book without knowing anything about it except that it was some sort of fantasy spy novel. (The British publisher, Gollancz, tweeted out a picture of the first page in a “What’s this book?” game, an ...more
Alex Sarll
The title is from a poem by Osip Mandelstam, poet and victim of Stalin's Terror: "The wolfhound century is on my back - /But I am not a wolf". And all the while I've been reading this, that has gone around in my head, seeming haunting one moment and bathetic the next. Which sums up the book rather well. More than once I nearly abandoned it, only given pause the first time by the quality of the jacket quote suppliers (Richard Morgan and Hannu Rajaniemi). The former is quite right when he referenc ...more
First Reads Review - Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins

So I'm a big fan of History Fantasy, which is rather what I would consider this book I won through the First Reads program. It's not really Russian, because it takes place in a world where Russia doesn't exist, but it is based on Russia, with a rather Russian feel to it. The main character, Vissarion, is basically the last good cop in a sea of corruption and is called into the capital in order to sniff out a nefarious plot and right that whi
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you're looking for a new flavour of fantasy fiction, Wolfhound Century offers a rather unique set-up. The book doesn't just take place in an other-Russia, but is written almost in the style of Russian writers, with the same ponderous oppression of glowering grey skies above a vast snowbound landscape. Here, Vissarion Lom goes from provincial plod to big city pawn, drawn by his superiors into a fight in the capital city he has little hope of understanding against adversaries that are giants to ...more
Silvio Curtis
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Continuing my return to fantasy with a book whose front-cover blurb is by the same obscure (to me at least) author as the one for Fair Rebel. The type of setting is different from any subgenre I've encountered before - it takes a part of fairly recent history, namely Stalinist Russia, with a few overtones of the Russian Empire, and transposes it into a fantasy analogue full of witchcrafty sendings, water spirits, giants exploited as heavy laborers, and so forth, all mixed in with the early-twent ...more
Grace Troxel
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review originally appeared on my blog, Books Without Any Pictures:


Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins is set in a SF/F world that resembles Soviet Russia. Many years ago, angels fell from the sky. Most of them were dead, but the event still changed the world. Angel flesh was used for biotech, which manifests itself in more of a fantasy way with strange monstrous creations. The Vlast, a totalitarian state, began to emerge, and now intellectuals
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wolfhound Century is a Fantasy novel set in a kind of alternative totalitarian Russia (The Vlast) which is locked in long term war they are losing. On top of this there is a fallen angel trapped but exerting a dark influence on proceedings while the broken bits of other dead angels are used in varying ways for power or control . The plot follows Lom , a provincial policeman with a mysterious past even he doesn’t know about , as he comes to the capital to investigate a revolutionary leader and un ...more
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
This, I think, is good: a swift, creative and intense political fantasy, reminiscent of Steph Swainston’s Castle novels as a secondary-world tale that begins and ends pretty much in media res, and in its capacious and modern attitude to fantastical worldbuilding, building an original setting the conveys a sense of many potential stories to be told. The central concern of the narrative is not just the fate of the world, but the fate of the past -- there exists a snapshot of the world before, wait ...more
Sylvia Becker
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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. Peter Higgins has laid out the foundations for an astounding trilogy. You could read this novel only for the experienced pacing and precise descriptions, but you have the plot and characters that add even more to the book. Considering that this is Higgins’ debut novel, I can only dream of what he shall accomplish within the next ...more
Wayne McCoy
Mar 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins reminded me of the work of China Mieville. I say that because I felt like I got thrown into a strange descriptive world without the clues to decipher what was going on. And yet, I couldn't stop reading. When it was all done, I enjoyed it, but it felt like the beginning of a series, and I still have questions.

It all takes place in a Soviet-like place that has been in a constant war with strange beings called angels. There is also a terrorist bombing as the book
Feb 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Vissarion Lom is a cop, and an incorruptible one at that. He's sick of the oppression and hypocrisy that surrounds him, and is summoned to the capital to catch a terrorist, subsequently ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police.

Alternative history doused in fantasy, this book was more than expected. Similar to war-time Russia, Higgins' world feels real enough, with characters interesting enough, although sometimes overshadowed by plot. Comparatively, however, they remain more f
Testament to how good this book turned out to be: I didn't once feel outraged by the blurbled 'vintage Mieville' comparison. (It's still no Mieville, even on an off-day) but Wolfhound Century is v fun to set alongside The City & The City. Peter Higgins has some seriously nifty ideas; I only wish 'tweet-length chapters = MOAR EXCITE' hadn't been one of them. The abrupt ending threw my reading rhythm off even more violently, but that was partly my own fault for failing to realise this was the firs ...more
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Peter Higgins is a British author. Wolfhound Century and Truth and Fear are published by Gollancz in the UK and Orbit in the US.

Peter's short fiction has appeared in Fantasy: Best of the Year 2007 and Best New Fantasy 2, in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, Zahir and Revelation, and in Russian translation in Esli.

Other books in the series

Wolfhound Century (3 books)
  • Truth and Fear (Wolfhound Century #2)
  • Radiant State (Wolfhound Century, #3)

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