Book Review: The Winter Soldier, by Daniel Mason

The year is 1914 and the First World War has just begun. In Vienna, a young boy studying to be a doctor volunteers to be a doctor’s assistant to gain experience but finds himself thrown into the war.


The year is 1914 and the First World War has just begun. Located in Vienna is a young boy called Lucius, who is studying to be a doctor. Unsure whether his intentions are stemmed from patriotism, pride, or paranoia, Lucius volunteers to be a doctor’s assistant in order to gain experience in his field and to prove his family wrong.

In a turn of events, a totally unprepared Lucius is thrown straight into the deep end, right in the middle of the war to end all wars. With limited experience, even fewer social skills, and a desire to be the greatest doctor in Austria, Lucius undertakes a tumultuous journey full of love, decision making, and above all else, war.

The Winter Soldier is an absolute treasure of a book. The prose is intelligent, lustful, and by no means simple, yet it’s so easy to understand. Mason has given the impression that he has selected every word purposefully, as every sentence is rich with imagery.

The novel is not pretentious or arrogant in its language however, as Mason has cleverly balanced language with accurate relatability. This is due to the character of Lucius being so unapologetically human. Prone to striving for perfection, his cluelessness and naivety are extremely humorous but his development through the book is astounding, and something that any young person trying who is striving to obtain their goals can relate to. Granted, any person is bound to grow up when being thrown into a war, but Mason has captured the horrific truths of war through a young-person’s eyes and create a strong connection between the perspective of the character and the reader.

This book has managed to make an old topic seem new again. With relatable characters for the modern age, and the accurate analysis of the human condition, I wouldn’t be surprised if this novel became a classic.

Reviewed by Phoebe Christofi
Twitter: @ChristofiPhoebe

Rating out of 10:  9

Distributed by: Pan Macmillan Australia
Released: September 2018
RRP: $29.99

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