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Helliconia Winter: Book 3 of the Helliconia Trilogy [Paperback]

Brian W. Aldiss


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Book Description

Dec 3 2002 Helliconia Trilogy (Book 3)
This is the final volume of the Helliconia Trilogy -- a monumental saga that goes beyond anything yet created by this master among today's imaginative writers. The centuries-long winter of the Great Year on Helliconia is upon us, and the Oligarch is taking harsh measures to ensure the survival of the people of the bleak Northern continent of Sibornal. Behind the battle with which the novel opens lies an act of unparalleled treachery. But the plague is coming on the wings of winter and the Oligarch's will is set against it -- and against the phagors, humanity's ancient enemies, who carry the plague with them.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: I Books; Reprint edition (Dec 3 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743445163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743445160
  • Product Dimensions: 19.1 x 12.6 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,477,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fitting ending March 5 1999
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Just as the series began with everything waking up with spring, so it ends with the world once again falling asleep for winter. Definitely ranking as one of the best series of all time, Aldiss finishes weaving his masterful plot, somehow making a book that is in the vein of the others and yet completely different. The matter of Earth is finally clarified and he ties in the destiny of us with Helliconia and shows that the two planets aren't all that different after all. Brilliant stuff and stuff that deserves wide reading, but as I keep saying, some publisher has let this series go out of print. Criminal, I tell you. Someone get this series into the right hands where it belongs! A classic.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre End to an Excellent Series July 16 2007
By Patrick F. Gano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When I first purchased Helliconia Spring (The First Book in Brian Aldiss' Trilogy) I'll admit that it took me about a month to get past the first chapter. Generally I was disappointed because this book was not science fiction as I had previously viewed the genre. In my mind I expected a plethora of exotic aliens, high technology, and space ships- the basic stock of most science fiction. Aldiss however, had a different goal in mind. Instead of traditional sci-fi imagery Helliconia Spring followed the primitive lives of pre-industrial humans on the planet Helliconia.

My initial disappointment was replaced by the need to read a good book of any variety, so I again picked up Helliconia Spring only to be blown away by Aldiss' description of a primitive alien world that somehow didn't seem quite as foreign as you might expect.

I loved the first two Helliconia books, Spring and Summer for a number of reasons which I won't describe now. However, I must say that Helliconia Winter was somewhat of a disapointment. As a story it wasn't bad, in fact it was entertaining if a bit slow paced. What troubled me was that the book ended with a caution against nuclear weapons, war, and if I'm not mistaken, the human desire to possess, whether that meant a desire for territory, goods, power, or even love. As the whole trilogy is written somewhat from the perspective of humans observing the Helliconians from an orbital space station the caution against greed, war, and "abusive" technology seemed somewhat self-defeating because, as the Terran characters philosophize at one point, it would have been impossible to ever find Helliconia and observe it had their ancestors not been obsessed with power and trying to possess worlds beyond the confines of earth. Aldiss' moral "lesson" cheapened the novel because it seemed more tacked on rather than thought out.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strong book, but weaker than its forebears June 15 2010
By A. Whitehead - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The world of Helliconia is moving away from the supergiant star Freyr. The Great Winter is about to descend on the planet with full, unmitigated fury. The tropical continent of Campannlat is ill-prepared to deal with the falling temperatures, and the defeat of their armies by the forces of the harsh northern landmass of Sibornal signals the beginning of the end of their period of dominance. Luterin Shokerandit, a soldier in the Sibornalese army, returns home in triumph, only to face treachery. The ruthless leader of Sibornal, the Oligarch, has decreed that the victorious army is returning home infested with plague, and cannot be allowed to reach succor.

Meanwhile, life on the Earth Observation Station Avernus, in orbit around Helliconia for almost four millennia, is drawing to an end as the inhabitants revert to savage barbarism, even as the world beneath them falls from the glories of Summer into the abyss of Winter. But some in Sibornal have vowed that humanity and civilisation will ride out the Winter no matter the cost in blood...

Helliconia Winter picks up the story of the world of Helliconia 478 local years - 669 Earth years - after the events of Helliconia Summer. As before, whilst the individual characters who starred in the previous novel are long dead the fall-out of their actions continues to have consequences in this novel, although in this case at something of a remove, since the action is now transplanted to the northern continent of Sibornal. Here, we follow a band of characters led by the betrayed Luterin as he struggles to return to his distant home in the Shivenink Chain, giving rise to what, potentially, should have been the most dynamic storyline in The Helliconia Trilogy. Instead, we get a travelogue. A fascinating, intelligent, well thought-out travelogue, but nevertheless there is the feeling of Aldiss pointing out the cool scenery at the expense of developing his themes in tandem with the plot.

This is not to say that the themes Aldiss wished to explore with the trilogy have been neglected, but they have been shunted into a somewhat unfocused subplot that ranges from the Avernus back to Earth and to one of Earth's almost-failed colony worlds. These ideas are interesting and intelligently-handled, but whilst in Spring and Summer they integrated nicely into the Helliconian story, here they are separated, to the detriment of both. That said, it is satisfying to get an answer for the mystery of why the Helliconian afterlife spirits went from angry, monstrous creatures in Helliconia Spring to peaceful, loving entities in Helliconia Summer, and these developments do a good job of tying the relevance of events in the two earlier books to the events of this one.

On the plus side, Aldiss's gift for invention remains formidable here. The landforms the characters pass through, the political machinations within the government of Sibornal and its member-states and the constant evolution of the flora and fauna of Helliconia to deal with its climatic extremes all remain stunning. His characters are similarly well-drawn and convincing, but it has to be said in this case they are mostly unpleasant and selfish characters whose ambitions and motivations are interesting on an intellectual level, but unengaging on an emotional one. In particular, his female characters receive short shrift here, which is odd especially after the first book in the series (where it is the women of Oldorando who drive forward its scientific and technological development). The ending is also rather more unsatisfying than in the first two books, where the ambiguous conclusions are alleviated by us learning what happened next in historical texts mentioned in the succeeding volume. With no succeeding volume to Helliconia Winter, the ending is too abrupt.

Helliconia Winter (****) is packed with inventive ideas, fascinating characters and some genuinely exciting and dramatic moments. However, it is the weakest book of the trilogy, with an unsatisfying ending and a cold, remote prose style that is not as engaging as the first two books in the series. Nevertheless, the ambition and achievement of the trilogy as a whole remains stunning. The novel is available now in the USA and in the UK will be reissued as part of the new Helliconia omnibus due for release on 12 August this year.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor end to a mediocre series Aug. 29 2007
By Adam Connor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Without a doubt, this is the weakest book in the series. It's also the shortest, and feels like Aldiss didn't really know what to do with it.

There are two intertwined narratives -- one involving Helliconia (almost exclusively on the continent of Sibornal), and the other involving Earth and the man-made satellite of Helliconia, Avernus. The latter narrative was identified by italicization. I came to dread those sections. While easily the weaker part of earlier books as well, they were dreadful in Helliconia Winter. Suffice it to say it felt like a homage to the worst new-age tripe of the 1970s (a period I lived through), combined with an really boring discourse on the nature of man. As a philosopher, Aldiss is a complete bust.

On the other hand, the Helliconia narrative was at least interesting much of the time, although the ending was weak. Aldiss does have talent, which shows up in some of the names (e.g., "Myrkwyr" as the day when the polar regions go into their long period of twilight, and "Weyr-Winter" for the centuries long winter). At his best, he is very good.

I'd give 3-4 stars for the Helliconia narrative, but 0 for the Earth/Avernus narrative... which, while shorter, was an annoyance and a distraction. Overall, 2 stars -- not the worst I've ever read, but a poor novel.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuine classic April 22 2009
By Gareth Power - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a proper literary novel for grown-ups. The prose is beautiful, the characters memorable and nuanced, and the portrait of the cultures of Sibornal convincing and rich.

Really, it's astounding that the Helliconia trilogy is not held in higher regard. It is one of the very best things that's ever come out of science fiction.

The best book in the series is probably Summer, but this is a close second. My main gripe is that I wish it had been longer.

Abro hakmo astab to all detractors!
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