Home > Categories > Books > Fantasy > Winterstrike review
Winterstrike spy Hestia Mar has been sent to Caud to recover details of an ancient weapon. During her stay in the Martian city, she encounters the ghost of a warrior, who turns out to be the encoded representation of the city's bombed library. Hestia Mar manages to access the library's data, but realizes too late what she has done: by downloading the information, she has virtually guaranteed the use of the weapon against Caud by her own government.
Desperate to rescue the situation she makes her way back home across the dangers of the Crater Plain. Meanwhile, in Winterstrike itself, the festival of Ombre has been taking place upon the eve of war. Hestia's cousin Shorn - imprisoned by her family for accidentally consorting with a male - manages to escape. Her sister Essegui, pursuing her to the dangerous mountains of Mars, discovers a plot by creatures who hold the secrets of the Martian past, and its future. While Essegui battles forces back in Winterstrike, Hestia travels to Earth in an attempt to save her city...
Winterstrike is another of those strange stories that operate comfortably in a world we simply have to take on faith. The concept of Haunt Tech still gives me the creeps... a scientific rational of the process of death and the human soul, and how to capture, bind and use it as a form of energy and/or control software for mechanical devices. -shudder-
Liz Williams once again brings us back into the strange world of the Martian Matriarchies. After Banner of Souls I wasn't too sure if I wanted more of this... it's just a bit creepy... but by the time I was through a chapter and a half I wasn't able to put it down without a struggle. Creepy it is, but also highly absorbing and addictive.
Though the story is quite linear in terms of plot, it does seem to bounce around in time a bit, with some characters doing a bit of 'Quantum Leaping' into the past, and even locations... it's all very 'bouncy' in places.
The characters are well defined and full of depths hard to describe. There are some that appear only briefly, yet seem as 'natural' as though they had been described in far greater detail... it's a very unusual narrative style. One that really, REALLY does work however.
Because there is a strict Matriarchy, and thus no reproduction in the common sense, everyone is a clone or an engineered genetic combinant... so it's not surprising to find the odd 'cuckoo' in the character list: someone who isn't who they appear to be at first.
Overall, this is another instalment in a series well worth keeping an eye on. If you like things wildly 'unusual' you might find this right up your preference... and if not, you are still bound to find something worthwhile in here... but don't expect the stranger stuff to be explained, since this world is comfortable in itself and doesn't feel the need to explain in detail.
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