Hodder & Stoughton, h/b, Â£17.99
Reviewed by Stewart Horn
There are lycans among us. Most of the time we donâ€™t even notice them, because they donâ€™t cause any trouble. Our friends, neighbours and colleagues may have the disease (In Percyâ€™s world the affliction is caused by a prion) and be perfectly good citizens who live a full and normal life without ever eating anybody. But it gets interesting because there are radical lycans who commit acts we would recognise as terrorism.Â And there are extremist right-wing anti-lycan groups who see them as sub-human and would exterminate them given a chance. The lycans have a homeland, their own nation state where they can do all the wolfy stuff they like, but there is always unrest and the US has an uneasy relationship with the Lupine Republic, part peace-keeper and part military occupier.
Percy has gone to a lot of effort to make the political aspects of this novel realistic, to the extent that, despite the werewolves, it reads more Tom Clancy than Stephen King. He has a lot to say on the subject of US foreign and domestic policy, and he is using his created world to talk about real-life situations in Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, as well as AIDS, prejudice in general, extremism in all its forms, and particularly the American rightâ€™s attitude to all of these.
However, he also tells a good story with several interweaving strands so we see the conflict from every angle. His characters are engaging and his writing solid enough to balance the occasionally over-heavy satire, so you can just read and enjoy the story if thatâ€™s the way you roll.
Mainly, itâ€™s a big, meaty, satisfying thriller.Â Enjoy it for the characters, the pace and the grandeur and ambition of the plot. Read it as a big adventure story and I promise youâ€™ll have fun.