East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Triple treat: At the Table of Wolves

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If you are reading my blog you know there are a number of things that interest me: pulp fiction old and new, adventure, science fiction and fantasy, history, occasionally comics, caper movies, espionage…
“The kid has too many interests,” as the teachers used to write in their final evaluation … indeed, I was in the third year of university when a teacher levelled at me the old “too many interests” mark of infamy.

But it has worked out fine so far, and sometimes a number of interests of mine collide, and it’s a lot of fun. Case in point, Kay Kenyon’s 2017 novel At the table of wolves, that I have kept on my nightstand for a few months now, and finally started reading seriously at the start of the week, going through it at a fair clip.

Set in 1936, At the table of wolves is an espionage caper, pitting the British against the Nazi, but with a twist – somewhere in the recent past an event known as the Bloom has led to the rise of superpowers in the population – a lot of people have a talent, a single power that can be useful or useless, pathetically weak or earth-shattering. As both the British and the Nazi run to weaponize the Talents, a strong opposition to the talented seems to turn the tide of public opinion on the side of Hitler.
In the midst of all this, the protagonist of the novel stumbles on a plot that might spell the end for the British, and for all of the free world.

So, this novel ticks off three boxes as far as I an concerned – it’s a well-written espionage story, it has a strong historical background and is, basically, a superhero fantasy.
Granted, the Talents are more low-key than what’s usually displayed by Marvel characters, but the whole paranormal set-up is well-drawn and works great. In particular, the idea of governments trying to register all the talented people while the non-talented grumble and get unpleasant, is a nice touch, and thickens the plot.

The main character, thirtysomething Kim Tavistock, is a 6/10 level “spill” talent – people tends to tell everything in her presence, no matter how secret or compromising is what they are talking about. Which is just perfect for a spy – or for getting in trouble. Or both.

The book is the first in a trilogy, that will see miss Tavistock getting in further trouble as the war of spies progresses.
I was able to get a copy of the hardback early this year, and now I’m planning on buying the two remaining titles, Serpent in the heather and Nest of the monarch, in hardback too, to get a complete set.

This is the perfect summer read, and it pleases many of my interests.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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