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Theater of Spies

(Tales from the Black Chamber #2)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  206 ratings  ·  45 reviews
The second novel in an alternate history series where Teddy Roosevelt is president once more right before WWI breaks out, and on his side is the Black Chamber, a secret spy network watching America's back.

After foiling a German plot to devastate America's coastal cities from Boston to Galveston, crack Black Chamber agent Luz O'Malley and budding technical genius Ciar
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Ace
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Theater 🎭 of Spies is the second volume of the Black Chamber alternate history espionage series. It is set in World War I but Teddy Roosevelt is president again and the Kaiser's armies have routed Europe. Paris has fallen. Although there are pockets of resistance, millions of surviving French have fled to North Africa to start anew and the flow of refugees never ceases. Russia fell and the only two powers left are Germany and the USA, which now includes the Mexican Protectorate. Two secret agent ...more
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, 2020, ebook, reviewcopy
More on Chill and read

When I read “Black Chamber” by S. M. Stirling I was thrilled by the story. It’s an alternate history, set in the midst of World War I, where the Germans have managed to develop a deadly gas that wiped out London and Paris, and the United States of America has a secret agency of operatives called Black Chamber. One of those Black Chamber agents is Luz O’Malley, a senior agent as such, that has Latin roots and has lived in Europe, in Bavaria specifically, fluent in a few lang
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I got this ARC from at Emerald City Comic Con from the Penguin Random House booth and I was pretty excited because I had read the first one and enjoyed it quite a bit.

The writing style is very tech heavy and full of digressions into the world the characters are living in, the history, the culture, the motivations, the various events that led to where they are and the technology they have access to. I find all of this fascinating and thinks it adds to the story, but some people might find the dig
Allen Adams
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it

Speculative fiction tends to shine its brightest when it is given space to grow. World building is a key component to the most successful fantasy or sci-fi offerings – those fully-realized backdrops can grant the reader the immersive experience they often seek from this sort of genre offering.

Alternate history – a personal favorite – benefits no less from such world-building efforts, though a higher degree of delicacy is required, thanks to the real-world
Ara Sedaka
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well-researched and compellingly written, this alternative history/steampunk version of WWI-era America and Europe will challenge modern readers to think about how politics and values have changed over the past century, while also providing a swashbuckling tale of heroics and intrigue. The main characters continue to delight me—Luz and Ciara as a now-established queer couple avoid the frequent negative tropes of lesbians in fiction and instead forge their own path toward a “Boston marriage” whil ...more
Randal White
Apr 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
I enjoyed the first book of this series. Unfortunately, I had to give up on this one. I forced myself to keep going, but halfway through I had to bail.
The entire first half of the book is spent in just setting up for the actual story. It drags on and on. Even worse was Stirling’s propensity to constantly switch from English, to Spanish and even German dialogue. Which he never did translate. And, like in the previous book, he again gets lost in minutiae, such as reciting recipes.
All in all, wha
Nicole Luiken
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
WWI alternate history, book two in the series. Book one began with just a small deviation from our history--Teddy Roosevelt is elected to a second term of office--but since the end of book one, events have diverged hugely in very interesting ways.

The action scenes are flat-out superb and the historical details are meticulous. I liked how Luz and Ciara were both extremely capable in wildly different ways. I enjoyed the inner spycraft details.

Quibble: The food is over-described. Learning what pe
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb alternate history, with slightly over the top (intentionally I am sure) action-adventure in the style of the Indiana Jones films. (Nobody keeps their hat after falling from a horse, but you might get the idea.)

While somewhat detail heavy (and thus off-putting to some I see from other reviews) the accuracy and world-building this detail enables is fascinating.

The first half of the book does mostly put the characters and scenes in place, but with a WWI setting few readers will be familiar w
John Purvis
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Theater of Spies" eBook was published in 2019 (May) and was written by S. M. Stirling ( Mr. Stirling has published more than 40 novels. This is the second novel in his "Tales from the Black Chamber" series. 

I received an ARC of this novel through in return for a fair and honest review. 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 tim
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ap ...more
Jonathan Palfrey
May 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This is the sequel to Black Chamber; and, if you've read that, you'll know what sort of a story to expect. In this one, the American heroines are sent off on another undercover mission to Germany at the end of 1916, so much of the story takes place in wartime Germany in winter, not the most cheerful of environments. It's enlivened by the imaginative action sequences and the varied characters, although most of the characters encountered are minor and don't get a lot of time on stage.

As before, th
Eric Shivak
Luz O'Malley and Ciara Whelan are back and I was so happy to go off on adventure with them once again.

I know I am dating myself but this series takes me back to my boyhood when I was first introduced to the WW II action/adventure books about Dick Dawson. They were the first "adult" books I read and they helped form my reading tastes.

This book holds up to the first book in the series (Black Chamber) and we once again take off and travel around a world literally at war. It explores the affect one
Vincent Archer
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: alt-history
The next daring adventure of the WW1 female James Bond.

The Theater of Spies brings back mostly the same cast of characters from book 1, namely Luz Orostegui (O'Malley), her GF technological Ciara Whelan, arch-Nemesis Horst and a good supporting cast. Set in a zeppelinpunk setting (how are you going to call the retro-technological futurism feel that pervades the whole book?), with Germany the technological wizard vs the the USA economical giant, it has his capers, hot dirigible pursuits, daring r
Kim McGee
Luz and Ciara are the perfect partners in and out of the bedroom and well suited for dangerous work they do for the secret Black Chamber. President Teddy Roosevelt is well aware that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the German takeover has serious implications for the U.S. and his money is on two of his best spies, Luz and Ciara. As they travel all over the world engaged in some really violent encounters trying to be one step ahead of the Germans who will do anything to stop them from ...more
Jim Bogue
Stirling has the rare ability to create a believable and exciting not quite reality. His characters (especially the villains, or perhaps better here antagonists) are intriguing and lifelike. His books pull the reader into the new world.
This is his second volume about two female US agents in a somewhat different WWI. Here Teddy Roosevelt is still President and the US is far more proactive. And the Germans have a devastating new weapon, and are using it.
Stirling loves detail, and his vignettes of
Jean Kolinofsky
Apr 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I am a fan of historical fiction and the idea of an alternate history of WWI drew me to this book. I had mixed reactions while reading this. Stirling has two strong female characters as his leads. Luz O’Malley and Ciera Whelan are agent’s for an intelligence group that works for Teddy Roosevelt. The first third of this book sees them receive their assignment to travel to Berlin and discover Germany’s newest weapon project. Their journey by airship takes them through South America and on to Afric ...more
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: althistory
As has been the case with other books I've read this year, I wasn't able to finish this one at one time.
This book picks up some months after the events of Black Chamber. Luz and her partner Ciara have made a home in southern California when they are summoned back to the War. The Germans are developing a kind of radar, and the Chamber wants Intel, so they are sent to Germany, traveling by airship. Hot on their trail is the German agent Horst von Duckler, who has a score to settle.
Once again this
Luz and Ciara are back in action for America's Black Chamber in this AH WWI thriller. They manage to stop a German plot to blow-up an airship over Mexico while on their way to North Africa. From the National Redoubt of Overseas France, the pair makes their way into Switzerland and then infiltrates the German Empire to steal technical secrets. Unfortunately for them, Horst von Duckler managed to survive Boston and return to Germany. He manages to get on their trail and make the situation hot for ...more
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So, Stirling decided to write a lesbian romance, and set it in an alternative WWI history. Ok. Not enough happens, and most of the books is the two lady spies swooning over each other. I have nothing against lesbians, but that's not what the book was supposed to be about. And it was all about their endlessly marveling how wonderful the other was. What little action there was in the book was just an excuse for each of them to be thrilled by the competence of the other. Very tedious after a while. ...more
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
We're back in this series presenting an alternative history of WWI. Our female spies are as clever as ever. Unfortunately the coincidences start to pile up a bit too deeply, making the plots a tad unbelievable at times. Yet still entertaining! This time we are infiltrating a German lab and airship station in order to steal what will turn out to be radar technology, new at the time. The ladies manage to get away with the technology when they steal an airship. Yes, a giant blimp. No, I am not kidd ...more
Jeffrey Schmieder
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Liked this one more than the first book in the series. Got to see more of the new world Stirling and Roosevelt created. Luz is still a little too well developed for her age and experience, but who wants to read about an average character? Luz and her Irish mechanical girlfriend sneak into Germany during WWI to steal the secrets of early radar. The love story between the two leads got a little monotonous but I liked their airship travels and their attempt to sneak inside the huge Siemens Berlin p ...more
Michael Jarrell
Sep 01, 2020 rated it liked it
I really do like the setting for this series, an alternate WW1 world. The characters are good and usually engaging, as is the actions. Stirling didn't do quite as well with this one as he did with the previous volume (The Black Chamber). Theater managed to drag along, in fits and spurts and really did not take off until the final quarter of the book. Then it was filled with most of the things that make the series worth reading. I am really hoping that the next volume (which I already have) impro ...more
Don Cortell
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Long before spy satellites, video surveillance, nano technology and laser beams, spying took good old fashioned intestinal fortitude and cunning. Stirling creates a world where the protagonist exercises that and so much more.

Travel to Germany once more with the Black Chamber and find out how true espionage can make or break the war for one side, all the while hanging on the edge of your seat. It’s a very enjoyable story that will leave you wanting for more.

Thanks to First to Read for my advance
Big fan of Stirling usually but certain things grated

The anti-English racism of Ciara you expect it from ignorant cod-Irish characters not from an apparently educated woman.

Calling the UK Battleship Queen Elizabeth I - unless the Sea Lords were extraordinary good at prediction they would not know of Queen Elizabeth the Second so the ship should have been HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Apparently 100% reliable tanks with turrets - not likely in 1916.
Zeb Kantrowitz
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley-read
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. ...more
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Book #2 Theater Of Spies... I Downloaded This Book And Could Not Stop Until It Was Done... Black Chamber (Books 1&2) Are Fun And Spellbinding...I Have Mine From You Get Yours in The Format You Like Best... Just Don't Miss Out...
As Teddy Roosevelt Would Have Said...This Read Is Bully...Just Bully
Michael V. Smith
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Please continue this series!

Not enough really good AH reading out there right now and this series is a very satisfying read for an old AH fan like myself. I love Teddy as President in WWI.
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very good

I enjoyed this story very much. Both Luz & Ciara are wonderful characters that leap off of the page. The villains are people who are evil & yet not one dimensional. Very interesting possibilities regarding this worlds future.
May 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, but I was simply bored most of the time. The concept of the world is great, and I really want to know more about the bigger picture- but I found the main characters just didn't interest me, nor did the story. Maybe spy novels aren't my thing. ...more
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great book that was hard to put down the character development from the first book continues and expands on the work of the first. The world development continues greatly expanding the war and into Germany developing the changing technology of the altered timeline.
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Stephen Michael Stirling is a French-born Canadian-American science fiction and fantasy author. Stirling is probably best known for his Draka series of alternate history novels and the more recent time travel/alternate history Nantucket series and Emberverse series.

(personal website: source)

I’m a writer by trade, born in France but Canadian by origin and American by naturalizat

Other books in the series

Tales from the Black Chamber (3 books)
  • Black Chamber (Tales from the Black Chamber #1)
  • Shadows of Annihilation (Tales from the Black Chamber #3)

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