Truth and Fear

Peter Higgins. Orbit, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-575-13059-3

Higgins continues his rich, metaphyiscal exploration of alternate Soviet history (after Wolfhound Century) with a complex tale of collision between ideals and individuals, and the costs of devotion to both. In the capital city of Mirgorod and in distant areas of the country, forces align to seek momentous outcomes. Shapeshifter Antoninu Florian, agent of equilibrium, joins forces with Maroussia Shaumian and former police inspector Vissarion Lom, two enemies of the state. Vlast Commander Lavrentina Chazia, supremely convinced of her innate suitability to wield power in the vacuum left by the recent death of the country’s ruler, wants to find Maroussia and use her connection to the reality-changing Pollandore in a battle to control reality and history. And terrorist Josef Kantor reinvents himself as Defense Commissar Rizhin, devoted to the preservation of the city. Readers enrapt in the multiple sweeping story lines may find the exciting climax comes all too soon. Agent: Ian Drury, Sheil Land Associates. (Mar.)