In Helliconia Winter, Brian Aldiss finally settles into the human-scale story he approached in Summer. The result is, if not exactly intimate, still substantially more engaging than the previous volumes. Winter is coming, and with it the Fat Death, the plague that kills some and transforms others to prepare them for centuries of cold ahead.
It's hard to say that any of Helliconia's characters is particularly likeable, but they are, at least, interesting. There's more action and less philosophy here. Enough of the secrets of the world are revealed for the content to be satisfying, though some of the mechanisms lean toward the arbitrary.
To be frank, my reaction on finishing the series was mainly of relief. It's seldom that I find books this slow. Mainly, I think the issue is that Aldiss, lost in the vast scope of his plan, forgot to approach it through characters we could identify with. That gradually improved as the trilogy progressed, but even in this last volume, I didn't care enough about the lead protagonist, Luterin Shokerandit, to have strong feelings about what happened to him. While an improvement on its predecessors, Winter is not a strong book.
I received a free copy of this
book in exchange for an honest review.