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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A creative concoction of realworld history and wild 'what if', 7 May 2013
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Demi-Monde (Demi-Monde Saga) (Paperback)
What a fabulous book. Enjoyable in its own right, Demi-Monde is the first part of a series of four so holds the delightful promise of three further episodes. Don't pick this up if you insist on a full resolution to every plotline at the end of each book. Book One/Winter is most definitely the opening instalment and leaves the reader cliff-hung on several fronts as the action in this book draws to a close.
The plot deftly weaves together many recognisable themes which will be familiar to readers of fantasy quests, sci-fi and alternate history novels. The Demi-Monde is an unstoppable, deadly serious computer game, a replica of the real world where players experience lethal role-playing and war-gaming. It's a lot like Sid Meyer's Civilisation and similar empire-building games, taken to the nth degree. The Demi-Monde is a very detailed creation which draws heavily on the history of the 20th century, and in particular the outbreak of WW2, but slants that recreation with Victorian-era technology and a vast smattering of intriguing characters from across earlier and later eras. The Demi-Monde is divided into conflicting regimes; totalitarian, hedonistic, misogynist, religious, monarchist, mystical and so on. An outsider is thrown into this mix and somehow has to stop the evil escaping from the confines of the game...
So our heroine is sent on a rescue mission into the heart of the ForthRight (the evolution of the Third Reich in this reality), just after the ur-nazis have defeated Henry Tudor, created the Warsaw ghetto and are about to launch Operation Barbarossa. Head magician Aleister Crowley plans an unspeakable rite of power so our girl pretends to be a voodoo mistress and falls in love with a rascal magician (there's a good joke about the mispronunciation of his name). Subplots abound, so we learn how a spoiled but smart Aryan maiden becomes a hotshot adhoc military commander and all the while see glimpses of the weird, fascinating worlds which make up the Demi-Monde.

At first I felt a little daunted by the size of this book and the complexity of the universe. Each chapter begins with info from the user-manual, or notes from diaries and such, designed to give us a wider understanding of the intricacies of the world. All the clever acronyms were getting up my pipe, just a touch, and then the plot got up to speed. I became wrapped up in what was happening to the characters and the extremely clever juxtaposition of real world historical events with credible 'what if?' scenarios. When the time came for the Warsaw uprising to be re-enacted my heart was in my mouth - in the Demi-Monde, the ghetto's population of three million people seemed just as doomed as the Jewish casualties of the real war. The resolution to this plot-line was artful, creative, witty and poignant.

Devote some quality time to reading Winter/Book One and you'll be rewarded with a captivating new world, one of smoke and mirrors which closely resembles our own - but don't expect things to turn out quite as you know them. I look forward to seeing how many of the characters develop, too. Trixie Dashwood - who came of age in now small way in 'Winter' - is going to be one to watch, I reckon.
Subsequent episodes -- Spring, Summer, etc -- are available, so you don't have to wait to bounce onto the next segment. Each has a different flavour and highlights different characters.

NOTE: there are now several versions of this series available. This edition is the same as 'Winter' but with a snazzy cover...
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The Demi-Monde (Demi-Monde Saga)
The Demi-Monde (Demi-Monde Saga) by Rod Rees (Paperback - 9 Oct 2012)
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