Blades of Winter has to be one of the best alternative reality, action-suspense novels that I have read in a very long time. G. T. Almasi takes a page straight out of Robert Ludlum’s hand book and instills a bit of humor and romance to go along it. He provides us with a heroine that is as snarky as she is bad-ass in 20 year old Alixandra Nico.
In Almasi’s world, it is the year 1980 and the president is Ronald Reagan. The United States, Russia, the Nationalist Republic of China, and Greater Germany emerged from World War II as the main superpowers. They aggressively seek to one up the other nations by producing super spies with modifications that Almasi calls Levels. Germany controls much of Europe and the Middle East from the Polar Capes to the African peninsula, while the US maintains hold on its own territories including Japan and Cuba.
In the synopsis I’ve read, it states that Alix is 19 years old. That’s not exactly true since she turns 20 after a certain mission of destruction and mayhem which lands her in the hospital. Alix, code name Scarlet, spends a lot of time destroying things, and getting into troubling situations which leads to continued conflicts among her peers and her partner Patrick. That is alright with me because she ends up finding different ways of surviving even at the expense of her enhancements and modifications which come from being a Level on the way up.
Alix’s father Philip (Big Bertha) was a legend within the Extreme Operations (ExOps) until his disappearance when Alix was 12 years old. It led to the belief that he was dead. Philip’s apparent reappearance in enemy hands leaves lots of answers and no clear cut solutions to finding him. Alix’s own career as an ExOps agent began shortly after Philip’s original disappearance. She soon excelled to the point of leaving her classmates behind in the dust and going on missions that were way above her pay grade.
Alix reminds me, in a way, of Jason Bourne which is where I got the Robert Ludlum reference from. She chases bad guys all over the world and even jumps off the Eiffel Tower in pursuit of a villain. Alix is fearless to a fault and doesn’t really understand the meaning of bring back prisoners so that her bosses can glean information from them. She has no boundaries when it comes to getting what she needs from a mission, even if the mission wasn’t supposed to be hers in the first place. She’s hopelessly in love with her partner Patrick which leads to some interesting interludes as well as a breathtaking and fast paced chase that will leave readers gasping for air.
In the end, this was an entertaining and quick paced read that I am sure will be carried over in the next installment called Hammer of Angels (March 26, 2013).
Recvd from NetGalley * Published August 28th 2012 by Del Rey
Author - GT Almasi
Title - Blades of Winter
Publisher - Del Rey
Released - August 28, 2012