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Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
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Blades of Winter: A Novel of the Shadowstorm Kindle Edition
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The world building is good set around 30 years ago, yet with technology from far in the future. The world is run by the superpowers USA, Russia, China & Germany. These four nations are supposedly at peace with each other however on a covert level they strive to wipe each other out. This covert warfare is known as Shadowstorm and is carried out by agents known as "Levels" who have been given bio-medical/mechanical upgrades and other advancements making them superhuman.
When a much higher level calls in sick, Alix causes a clerical error and gets assigned the job. The task involves tailing a former Russian Level however all hell breaks loose when Alix is fired upon by a Russians protector and soon enough things descend into all out chaos. This horrible mix up is then rectified as Alix gets a dressing down from her superiors about her disastrous mission, things however aren't finished as she learns that there was much more to that incident than just a mix-up and things have a way of being connected to her past namely her missing dad. The investigation is re-opened, heralding the start of a thrilling journey as a plot to sabotage the worlds oil supply is uncovered.
There are many stand out moments in the book but the best has to be Alix in pursuit of a foreign level jumping off the Eiffel Tower without a parachute, catching him, digging her augmented hand into his collarbone and pulling his parachute chord. She is impulsive, emotionally unstable and a borderline psychotic killing machine, but you can't help loving this character to bits.
This is an excellent debut novel and I look forward to the next book in the series.
Alix Nico is a new young level who connives to get herself assigned a job well above her current level/ability. This triggers events of epic proportions and leads to the revelation that her father, the worlds best ever level and presumed dead, is alive and guinea pig of the enemies cloning program.
This leads to an investigation of his last case, a cover up inside her agency, and a significant global threat emerges. Battling the enemy and a mole Alix tries to uncover the truth about her father and save the day.
Its fast paced with a lot of action and its enjoyable read. However it does have some major plot holes. Like an agent who lies, takes jobs above he ability, whose inexperience causes deaths on her team, has a personal and emotional interest in the case keeps getting rewarded and promoted not disciplined. If you can over look that you'll enjoy the book
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The novel is told from the point of view of a 19 year-old female operative in the Shadowstorm conflict. She is an American agent known as Scarlet, real name Alix Nico, and she is pretty awesome. (Warning, she swears like an irritated sailor, though). She is funny, and she is dedicated, and she has some issues.
The novel is set in an alternate history of the world, roughly at the modern day era (beginning of the 21st century), but in a world shaped dramatically differently due to a different outcome to World War 2. The novel is an exciting, gripping ride that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go until the last word of the last paragraph on the last page. And wow was that last word something!
The novel is well written, and you will immediately care about the main character. However, I almost rated it 4 stars instead of 5, because of the violence in the book. Generally it isn't described in detail, but in 2 cases it is, and it involves torture. The first comes at the beginning of chapter 23, and I really didn't care for it. The second, and last came at the end of chapter 39. In both cases, the participants were combatants, there was a lot of adrenaline and anger involved, and a lot of bravado and ulterior motives. However, the torture isn't described in serious detail, and it is not described in a positive light (ok, well, maybe it is a bit in chapter 39 -- but the reader will hate the person it is being done to at this point, and it is hard to feel sympathy for them). The novel doesn't contain any rapes, or domestic violence against women (the 2 things that get a book an automatic 1-star from me). The novel does get a little graphic with some of the violence in some of the fighting scenes, but if you've seen a James Bond movie, you've more or less run into that kind of violence.
Overall, it is a VERY entertaining Science-Fiction/Spy novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Book Content Guide For Parents:
Sex & Nudity: [1/5] sexual relations and attractions are discussed, but never described. A brief sex "scene" happens, but only the lead-up to it is described, the "camera" cuts away to the morning after right before it starts.
Violence & Gore: [5/5] every fight scene is pretty much fatal for someone, the fights are usually described in fairly graphic detail, things like brains being blown out, and bones being grabbed/ripped out, eyes being punctured happen.
Profanity: [5/5] yeah ... pretty much every other word out of Alix's mouth is some sort of profanity. F-word, S-word, etc. you name it, they say it -- this includes references/insults to genitalia.
Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking: [3/5] Alix gets drunk, a lot. So do various other characters. Various characters smoke (and smoking at one point is admired as "cool" by the main character). All of the enhanced humans (Levels) in the novel use stimulants (drugs) to affect their performance in battle. No illegal drugs (by U.S.A. standards) are referenced as used by any of the characters, that I noticed.
Frightening/Intense Scenes: [3/5] There is a very sad scene near the end of the novel that is also very tense (and violently graphic). There is a very tense kidnapping scene near the beginning of the novel, but the tension is combat related in both cases. There are also the 2 torture scenes I mentioned in my main review, in chapters 23 and 39.
Almasi's first-person protagonist Alix is a 19-year-old recruit, just getting her feet wet in the Shadowstorm. She's a sassy/spunky/perky wisecracking teenage ass-kicker in the mold of Heinlein's Friday. She's also a hotshot gunslinger with a chrome-plated skeleton, a big gun, and a chip in her head. She loves blasting men's heads off and doesn't mind coming home covered in gore. And yet, somehow, she's a sensitive girl dotes on her work partner and goes to bed each night crying because she misses her daddy so much.
Daddy, you see, was the best in the biz; a super-super secret agent allegedly killed on a mission eight years ago. His body was never recovered. When Alix uses subterfuge to insert herself into a mission she's blatantly unqualified for, she uncovers new information relating to her father's disappearance. This sparks a series of adventures that eventually lead her to an Arab mastermind code-named "Winter" who wants to free the Holy Land from European domination in the most spectacularly suicidal way possible. Explosions, BFGs, clones, girl-on-multiple-soldiers-at-a-time action, smartass sendoffs, and lengthy hospital visits follow.
To call "Blades of Winter" a guilty pleasure is to understate just how guilty a pleasure it is. For one thing, Alix isn't a person, she's a fantasy girl; a sleek, sexy, efficient killing machine with a wickedly sarcastic wit and just a little bit of tacked-on sentiment and morality. She doesn't sound remotely like a real teenager, even if she is as cool and bold and fearless and clever as some teenagers think they are. She's Buffy the Vampire Slayer with less teenage angst, a higher body count, and fewer inhibitions. She's a lot more interesting than a damsel in distress, but she's not much closer than that to a real three-dimensional woman. For another thing, the action and violence is beyond over-the-top. The video-game gore (with charge-up packs!) is combined with heartless throw-away lines that would make even James Bond blush. It's simplistic, it's unrealistic, and it's cruelly insensitive.
But ... Almasi's writing is clear, clever, and effective. The action is slam-bang, the story rarely lags, and the plot's mysteries, even when they're telegraphed pretty clearly, never fail to drag the reader along. Almasi doesn't get particularly high marks for originality, but that's not what this exercise is about. For visceral thrills, some low-key chuckles, and not a huge amount of thinking, you can do a lot worse than "Blades of Winter."