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Shadows of Annihilation

(Tales from the Black Chamber #3)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  133 ratings  ·  28 reviews
The third novel in a World War I alternate history series where America's greatest weapon against Germany is Black Chamber secret agent Luz O'Malley and technical genius Ciara Whelan. Only they can protect America's best hope of winning the war.

The Great War is at a stalemate, and the only thing stopping Germany from striking America is the threat of the United States usin
Paperback, 400 pages
Published March 10th 2020 by Ace Books
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Sarai Henderson
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This series is a mind jumble. I find myself getting caught up in the strange alternate reality after WW1. Its strange to think "What if" When it comes to this topic. I loved this story and the characters were likable and easy to follow. If you are looking to escape this world and dive into something different for a while, this is the series for you.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.

Sara | Book Confessions of an ExBallerina
Zeb Kantrowitz
I've enjoyed reading Stirling for many years and loved his "Change" books. Having read the first two of this series I see that he has gone a totally different way from his prior fantasy tales. What makes these books interesting is their turn of alternate history in 1912 when Teddy Roosevelt won the Presidency and not Woodrow Wilson.

This is almost a 'steampunk' situation, where there is some difference in the industrial future manufacturing of certain products (mostly military) before their time
Jonathan Palfrey
I enjoyed this third book in the series more than I expected. From the title, I expected a grim story fraught with danger, whereas in fact what we get is a mostly peaceful tour of Mexico in the summer of an alternative 1917, after the country has been thoroughly occupied and pacified by the USA.

Stirling's novels tend to be punctuated by outbreaks of deadly hand-to-hand combat; and there are some here, but they're few and occasional, and seem almost incidental to the story. The story tells of a f
Vincent Archer
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: alt-history
End of the trilogy plus bonus laying ground for a potential sequel.

This finishes the initial series, reverting mostly the setup of the second book. This time, Hörst is coming, and our two spies have to foil him. It is a bit less epic than I'd probably have liked, but it is very realistic, so the grand finale happening very fast once everything is in place should be expected.

You also have to admire the skill deployed by M. Stirling. Because both sides remain very relatable because nobody is the b
Oct 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
Boy what a bore. Don't write an alternative history to World War I in which absolutely nothing happens for 300+ pages. Instead we get the interior monologue who thinks she's the smartest person the planet, her predictions and multilingualism not exactly tempered by her sexual deviancy. And then when actual war breaks out, the writing is so obscure that I'm still not sure what went down. I'm perfectly fine with novels in which not much occurs, but usually there's some sort of alternate payoff. Th ...more
Jul 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: alt-fiction
Compared to the previous two, there is much more setup time, making is way slower. We get to explore more both [alt-]historical context and Luz/Ciara but still, I wish he made it with a bit more action. Still a very good read :)
John Purvis
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Author S. M. Stirling ( published the novel “Shadows of Annihilation” in 2020. Mr. Stirling has published more than 60 novels. This is the third book in his ‘Alternate World War’ 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, Mature Language, and Mature Situations. The story continues the struggle between the Black Chamber and Germany.

Ara Sedaka
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Stirling's steampunk alternate WWI comes to an initial, satisfying finale (hopefully to be continued!). In this book, unlike the first two, we see our two heroines entirely on the defensive, while their enemy (German soldier/spy Horst) attempts another attack on American soil. Luz and Ciara are as delightful and daring as ever, however, as they journey back to conquered Mexico, where Luz initially earned her spurs as a Black Chamber agent. This series continues the extremely well-researched and ...more
Allen Adams
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it

If history were different, how different would it be?

That’s the underlying notion behind most alternative history stories, books and series that look into the past, alter something fundamental … and then see what happens. That forward-moving extrapolation of what changes – large and small – might come about because of that singular shift.

Like any speculative fiction, what we actually get in terms of quality varies wildly. Narrative complexity, world buildi
Margaret Carter
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In this third volume of the series, secret agent Luz O’Malley and her lover and professional partner, Ciara Whelan, are in Mexico. While they check on an American factory duplicating the German “horror-gas” and subtly feel out members of the local population, they’re guests in the home of Luz’s old friend and sometime lover, Julie, local Black Chamber station head. Meanwhile, German officer Horst von Duckler, obsessed with vengeance on Luz because she shot out one of his eyes and almost killed h ...more
Steven M Johnson
Oct 06, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
S. M. Stirling finishes off his Tales from the Black Chamber series in fine style. After recovering from their adventures in Europe, Luz O'Malley and Ciara Whelan are tasked with protecting the Annihilation Gas plant being built in Mexico. Unbeknown to them Horst von Duckler, the German agent they had fought against in two earlier books is in the area. He had broken out of the POW camp in Texas and teamed up with Mexican rebels to try to cause trouble. Major Rohm then joins in his crusade with a ...more
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Tales From The Black Chamber are outstanding! "What If" Theodore Roosevelt had been elected President in 1912 and enacted the Progressive program for the USA?

In this third volume, it is 1917 and the Great War is not going well for the USA. Black Chamber secret agents Luz and Ciara are in the Protectorate of Mexico to foil another diabolical (not exaggerating much here) plot by Imperial Germany. In the course of their adventures they meet again Luz's arch nemesis Horst von Druckler and anoth
Dave C
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lives up to the high standards of books 1 and 2

A perfect conclusion to the trilogy. A very focused visit to Mexico with a few old friends from the Reich along to cause problems. The same skill set that got the team through books 1 and 2 is shown in all its glory again. The rating continues to paint a vivid pictures of the time and the locations in which the story takes place.

Hollywood, these stories are perfect for the big screen. Quit filming nonsense and start spending time and money bringing
Patrick Murphy
I’m 2/3 of the way done and nothing has happened except one attack in the beginning. Just to be clear, I am a huge Stirling fan and to the best of my knowledge I have read everything he has written. It just seems that he drones on and on about describing everything in such detail and in a foreign language and then translates into English which is going nowhere not vey fast. I feel like sometimes he is just showing off. Yes, he seems to have a huge treasure trove of esoteric knowledge but, come o ...more
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I love S. M. Sterling's imagination, but once he sets up his new world and gets things rolling there comes a point where he just talks....and talks.....and talks. Nearly four hundred pages and there is very little action until the last twenty. Quite a slog. Interesting world and one wonders where he's going to go with it next, but be prepared to read two page descriptions of the appetizers served at a function where the attendees, you guessed it, talk over what's to do to conquer the enemy. ...more
Jeffrey Schmieder
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I liked this one better than the second one. Less action but more information about the Teddy Roosevelt alternative world. Warning! This series will make you hungry! The author's descriptions of meals had my stomach grumbling. Sad that so much of America thinks Mexican food is Taco Bell. Really looking forward to the next trilogy set in Asia years later. ...more
Michael V. Smith
Wow What a Series

Another great Black Chamber novel. I truly love the way TR shines in this series and Luz is a great character, one of Stirling's most memorable. I keep wanting more and hopefully as fans we will keep getting it. Very detailed descriptions of the Zacatecas area of Mexico and I love Mezcal!
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With his usual eye for detail, Stirling describes the new progressive nationalism that continues to evolve in Teddy Roosevelt's 4th term and its stalemate with Germany internationally. The US Protectorate of Mexico is now the setting for clashes between the Chamber's operatives and German saboteurs. ...more
Edward Stautberg
It was interesting. MUCH less action than previous books in the series, a lot more world building. Which I like and thought was neat, but the other two books in the series were heavily plot driven, so was just a surprise.
I'm not sure if this is the conclusion to the series, it seems open to continue, which would be very welcome.
Mike Kantola
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another terrific alternate earth book from SM Stirling. His knowledge of history is amazing. It is fun to see all these characters interact in a new environment. Not that any of them are the main story. Just mentioned.
Nicole Luiken
Alternate history. My least favourite of the series so far... I think because the spy team of Luz and Ciara were on home turf (sort of) in Mexico and playing defense instead of offense. As always with Stirling, amazing historical detail.
Michael Mayne
Jan 01, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I want a refund

Stirling is/was a good author. However, this book was horrible. Too many long descriptions of food/clothing/etc, a paper thin plot, and numerous other flaws add up to one boring book.
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I didn't like this one quite as much, but I think it's just because it was yet another "in the nick of time" style story. The world and characters are still plenty interesting. ...more
Following the two daring female hero’s through this novel was a pleasure & a fun read
George Fredericks

The one was ok. To much background information. To much detail on unimportant things. Do not care about furnishing in a room. Do not need to know the details of the cloths, food,
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I ve read all the books in this series and many of this author's others .I want to give this book a higher score but to me there is a lack of genuine good writing . ...more
Marsha Valance
In this 3rd novel in the World War I alternate history series, Black Chamber secret agent Luz O’Malley and technical genius Ciara Whelan must protect the Mexican factory producing America’s best hope of winning the war from German saboteurs.
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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)
  • Theater of Spies (Tales from the Black Chamber #2)

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