Science Fiction/Alternate History
In one of the most exciting debuts in years, G. T. Almasi has fused the intricate cat-and-mouse games of a John le Carré novel with the brash style of comic book superheroes to create a kick-ass alternate history that reimagines the Cold War as a clash of spies with biological, chemical, and technological enhancements.
Nineteen-year-old Alix Nico, a self-described “million-dollar murder machine,” is a rising star in ExOps, a covert-action agency that aggressively shields the United States from its three great enemies: the Soviet Union, Greater Germany, and the Nationalist Republic of China. Rather than risk another all-out war, the four superpowers have poured their resources into creating superspies known as Levels.
Alix is one of the hottest young American Levels. That’s no surprise: Her dad was America’s top Level before he was captured and killed eight years ago. But when an impulsive decision explodes—literally—in her face, Alix uncovers a conspiracy that pushes her to her limits and could upset the global balance of power forever.
Blades of Winter caught my attention from the very first paragraph. It is exciting with a very different alternate history. It did drag a little about 3/4 of the way through but quickly picked back up. Here are some of the elements that really caught my attention.
Worldbuilding: This is where Blades of Winter really stands out. The alternate history could have happened. How is this world different? Germany conquered England and went on to conquer most of Europe before the US had a chance to get in that part of the war. Hitler was killed before he had a chance to invade Russia. The US conquered Japan and has a hold in the Far East. Russia and Germany divided the Middle East. The Jews were not killed but are slaves in Germany. The US invaded Cuba after Castro and made it a state. China is not a Communist country but is the fourth world power. So four world powers who do not like or trust each other. Some of the people in power are familiar and some we know do not even show up.
Technology: With Germany the victor in a much shorter war they continue to lead in the development of new technology. Much of it is technology that changes the human body. The agents of each country are enhanced in ways that make them the equal of super heroes. There are other developments that parallel our history but they come about much sooner.
Plot: This one twists and turns on itself. What starts as a simple sit and watch changes into something much more important. Alix Nico is the center of much of the action and she finds information that changes the game of everyone.
Characters: This is an action driven not a character driven book. There is some character development but most is revealed by the actions required by the plot.
Tension: There is that in spades. Alix jumps from one dangerous situation to another. There are names without faces, double agents, and forged documents that drive the action.
Blades of Winter ends with a bit of a cliff hanger. One problem is solved but another must wait. All the action in Blades of Winter have caused tensions to built up between the powers and everything must have time to cool down before that problem is addressed.
Blades of Winter is a exciting first novel and book two is already in the pipeline. The series had great possibilities and I am looking forward to Hammer of Angels, book two.
I received a free copy of Blades of Winter from Amazon Vine.
Del Rey published Blades of Winter by G. T. Almasi in 2012.