“Black Chamber” by S. M. Stirling

“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.

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