Reviewed by Peter Coleborn
I donâ€™t normally read science fiction, at least not nowadays. And I avoid books of many pages, preferring short stories and novellas. But Rod Rees is a friend and a regular at the Renegade Writersâ€™ Group â€¦ and so I thought I best give it a go.
Iâ€™m rather pleased I did. The story arc is vast â€“ there will be four books in the sequence â€“ and complex. The events in Winter take place, mostly, in the world of the Demi-Monde, a virtual realm developed by the military to train its soldiers. In order to create an effective training regime, the Demi-Monde is populated with avatars of some of the nastiest people from history: Robespierre, Heydrich and Torquemada, for starters.
Thatâ€™s the background. Into this world comes Ella, who is tasked with the job of finding the presidentâ€™s daughter, trapped in this unreal-but-really dangerous place. Ella must infiltrate various factions and in doing do encounters Vanka â€“ a truly likeable rogue. They team up and become embroiled in revolution and war. Bad enough, but certain of the Demi- Mondeâ€™s inhabitants are very much aware of these real-life characters â€“ and of their value when it becomes time to confront the people in the real world.
This is Reesâ€™ first published novel. It effectively utilises so many aspects from his life (heâ€™s lived here, there and about everywhere in the world â€“ our world, that is), and he expertly acquires and twists characters and events from our history, knitting them seamlessly into a vastness of intrigue. This is a longish book, thatâ€™s true. And there are times when I wish the protagonists stopped chatting and got on with their adventures. But it was an amazingly quick and enjoyable read. The book has a beautifully designed cover â€“ and for those into the Internet-thingy, visit the website. It will keep you entertained for hours.
Volume two, Spring, is due out at the end of the year.