Blades of Winter: A Novel of the Shadowstorm
by G.T. Almasi
Cover Artist: Tony Mouro
Review by Steve Sawicki
Del Rey Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780440423546
Date: 28 August 2012 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Alix Nico is nineteen years old and a rising star in ExOps an agency that specializes in covert action against the enemies of the United States. Those enemies, The Soviet Union, Greater Germany, and the Nationalist Republic of China, are, along with the United States, waging a covert war on multiple levels. Instead of waging outright war the powers have instead poured their resources into bio, mechanical, and cyber enhanced operatives who serve as superspies working toward individual nationalistic agendas.
Alix, also known as Scarlet, is the daughter of an operative and is somewhat of a wild card. She's young, undisciplined, and incredibly talented. She's got the latest upgrades and she generally, if not always according to plan, gets the job done. When word comes down that a Middle Eastern Terrorist group is planning something around the world's oil supply, Alix gets handed the job. When she discovers that the situation also involves her father's last mission it becomes more than personal.
This is a first novel and, as such, it's a damn good one. Almasi manages to perfectly combine spy fiction with cyberpunk and come up with a new genre which I am going to call spyber-punk. The story zings along at a very fast pace and the main character is engaging and interesting. Almasi keeps the enhancements manageable so that the human girl underlying them remains present. This creates a more believable read and a more enjoyable one. For a first novel this is very, very good.
I enjoyed this book a lot. I was a bit concerned when I first started it that the age of the protagonist (I am no longer living in or hoping to recapture my youth) might be a barrier. I was also concerned that this was going to be one more book about a super person who never really had a chance at failure. Failure, or the looming chance of it, is one of the things that makes good fiction. Almasi got it right with this book.
A good combination of SF trappings wrapped in a spy thriller. Definitely recommended and it is supposed to be the first of a series. I'll certainly be looking for the second book.