Black Chamber by S. M. Stirling

Black Chamber

S. M. Stirling

In this thriller set during an alternate history before WWI, Teddy Roosevelt must turn to a deadly spy to get information on a German agent code.

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The first novel in a brand-new alternate history series where Teddy Roosevelt is president for a second time right before WWI breaks out, and on his side is the Black Chamber, a secret spy network watching America's back.

1916. The Great War rages overseas, and the whole of Europe, Africa, and western Asia is falling to the Central Powers. To win a war that must be won, Teddy Roosevelt, once again the American president, turns to his top secret Black Chamber organization--and its cunning and deadly spy, Luz O'Malley Aróstegui.

On a transatlantic airship voyage, Luz poses as an anti-American Mexican revolutionary to get close--very close--to a German agent code-named Imperial Sword. She'll need every skill at her disposal to get him to trust her and lead her deep into enemy territory. In the mountains of Saxony, concealed from allied eyes, the German Reich's plans for keeping the U.S. from entering the conflict are revealed: the deployment of a new diabolical weapon upon the shores of America...

Advance Galley Reviews

A very interesting alternate history story. The Black Chamber manages to be a well done spy story that I'd definitely recommend. 4 stars.

I love alternate history, and this is a great example of the genre. Definitely worth a read!

Interesting alternate history tale. Teddy Roosevelt has an organization of spies called the Black Chamber. It's just before World War I and there are rumors that Germany is building a weapon to attack the United States. I liked the fact that the main character is a woman who is an intelligent and wily spy. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of espionage, spiced up with airships and lots of Great War era intrigue. This is the first book by S.M. Stirling that I have read. I will definitely be reading more! Great start to a new series!

I love this author's work, and I thoroughly enjoyed The Black Chamber. The book got off to a slower start, but I expected a little bit of that, what with it being not only a historical fiction novel, but also an alternate history series. I expected some background works-building, and catching the reader up, especially with the first book in a series. I usually don't read a series until it's complete, unless it can standalone. With S.M. Stirling, however, I will read everything of his, regardless of an incomplete series. This was a great premise, and I loved reading about the Black Chamber, Luz, and all the details of international espionage at the time. This was a thrilling story, and the author went into enough detail to make me feel like I was living it, but not so much detail that I got bored. This book starts slowly, but soon picks up speed, and doesn't let up on the accelerator until the fiery, heart-pounding finish! I definitely recommend this book, series, and author!

Black Chamber is an alternate history book that I was excited to read but it just did not keep my interested. I wanted to put it down but kept telling myself that it would get better.

I'm a big fan of alternate histories, particularly when they are done well, and Stirling creates an alternate universe in rather precise detail. It's World War I and a nearly victorious Germany is dominating continental Europe. Back in North America, Teddy Roosevelt has just been elected president again, tough, charming, knowledgeable. And, backed by a secret spy network known as the Black Chamber. Move over James Bond, the premier agent in this network is the stunningly beautiful Cuban-Irish American Luz O' Malley, who fights like Wonder Woman (without the magic bracelets). She's tough, clever, charming, and thoroughly modern in outlook, Annie Oakley in a dress. The use of airships (zeppelins), including luxury cruise liners, almost gives this a steampunk feel. It is very detailed and thought out. The action when it occurs is first-rate, although some may find it slows its pace at points. Overall, quite a worthwhile read and the start of a new series.

"Black Chamber" is the first installment in an alternative history series positioned right before America's entry in the Great War. I really enjoyed it and I am looking forward to the next in line! Theodore Roosevelt has been elected president in 1912 and he is still at the White House in 1916. He has brought a lot of progress in the States ever since and has created a Secret service called Black Chamber. His secret service agents have intelligence of a great weapon being built in Germany that is expected to attack the States. Therefore he sends one of his best senior operatives to work it out. Luz is a senior Black Chamber operative. She is a Cuban-American with friendly relations to President Roosevelt. She boards a flying vessel heading to Amsterdam with the task to portray as a Mexican revolutionario and cooperate with the Germans, in order to get more information on their plan. She gets in touch with the German contact and establishes her path there. Stirling has done a great job creating an alternative Universe, where Kaiser Wilhelm is attacking both Europe and America with deadly weapons of mass distraction. The English and the French are really suffering under the Central Powers rage. It's only the Americans that can help, but they haven't yet engage in War. Secret agent Luz is a marvelous character. She is a very capable woman. She is trained and strong and as good as any male operative would be. She is quite intelligent too. Luz can understand many things about a person based on their body language, their accent and their reactions to every situation. The secondary characters are very well built as well. Ciara is a woman that understands mechanics and technology. She is quite rare for that period of time. Horst, on the other hand, is a very powerful man. He is strong and smart and very open minded. He admires the two ladies for their personalities and rare capabilities. That's very honourable of the author, as it was a man's world, as it still is in many cases.

I was excited to read this book as the premise sounded interesting. Unfortunately I just was not able to get into the book. I found the pace of the book to be very disjointed for me. Some parts moved rather quickly and others just seemed to drag. I generally give new authors to me about 100 pages to grab my attention but that just didn't happen and I gave up after 75.

DNF. I just couldn't get into this at all. I may have just not been in the mood for it, but I was very confused about what was going on and who was who, which almost never happens to me while reading. I got fifty pages in and it didn't improve, so I DNF'd it.

The first installment of a new series, Black Chamber is an alternative history novel of the period just prior to America's entry into World War 1. In this timeline, Teddy Roosevelt is president, and has set America on his "Progressive" path. The book is the story of a secret agent, Luz, who is sent undercover to discover what Germany is planning. She discovers a plan for Germany to employ a truly deadly secret weapon against the United States. I really enjoy some of Stirling's books. The "Island in the Sea of Time" series and the "Change" series are some of my favorite alternative history books. Stirling has set up the beginning of another intriguing series with this book. I look forward to the next book. However, there were some parts of the book that I had issues with. For one, the pacing of the book was sometimes challenging, and somewhat disappointing. For example, Stirling goes on and on for 12 pages describing the hero climbing a wall, while seeming to rush through more important parts. A second issue was that the premise of the beginning of Roosevelt's presidency were missing. For example, Stirling several times refers to a war with Mexico, and the rise of the "Black Chamber" spy agency, but he never tells the reader what happened. Perhaps he will explain in subsequent books, but it would have added greatly to the story if he had done it in the first. All in all, I found this to be a fun read. I honestly had a hard time putting it down. And I am looking forward to the next book.

Loved the idea of the book. The writing and story became boring very quick. The heroine you really didn't cheer for. The pace of the book was slow and the ending was very anticlimactic. This was my first time reading this author and not one I will likely pick up again.

As much as I’ve enjoyed the books in S.M. Stirling’s The Change series, The Black Chamber really didn’t do much for me. Stirling takes a progressive approach by making two women the main characters in the book, which is an alternative history of World War I, but the story feels drawn out and overly descriptive about unnecessary details. The pace of the book finally picked up for me about three quarters of the way through, but almost felt anticlimactic and still wasn’t as compelling as I would have liked it to be.

An alternate history timeline of WWI with an empowered female super spy trying to stop Germany from interfering with the U.S. entering the war. Main character Luz is a kick butt spy that handles whatever situation she is thrown into. Good fast and fun story. Recommend.


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