Review of The Winter Soldier

Having appreciated Daniel Mason’s Piano Tuner, it was an easy choice to delve into another of his novels – and this one is entirely up to the measure.

The Winter Soldier centres on Lucius Le..and his experience as a medical student called to rise to the occasion during the first world war Habsburg Empire. He encounters war, love, tragedy, cruelty, and Mason as author paints an evocative and gritty tale that brings his superb characters to life.

Although set in wartime this is not a war story. It is coming of age story set at the time of the death of Imperial culture drawn at a very deeply personal level. Lucius’ parents are remnants of a bygone era out of touch of the changing realities. Lucius is submerged in his medical studies until war drags him into the grim realities of treating the injuries of soldiers at a field hospital. There he meets a remarkable nursing sister and his world changes. This is the tale of the Winter Soldier.

Mason’s special skill is his ability to captures a fully sensory experience on the pages. The story carries us through a wonderfully sympathetic appreciate of Lucius’ experience and evolution – and ultimately his quest. Like the Piano Tuner, the detail and the research is meticulous and woven in with perfect aplomb. My only, very minor quibble (although it is around a pivotal point) was how Lucius accidentally on foot manages to travel far enough to end up travelling days distances on a train to retrace his steps. If you want to be carried away and treated to brilliantly constructed and craftily delivered tale of self-discovery, The Winter Soldier is a sure bet.

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