Lucius is a twenty-two-year-old medical student when World War I explodes across Europe. The other doctors have fled, and only a single, mysterious nurse named Sister Margarete remains. aA the war rages across the winter landscape, he finds himself falling in love with the woman from whom he must learn a brutal, makeshift medicine.
Despite its serious concerns, The Winter Soldier brims with improbable narrative pleasures. Mason is a practitioner of storytelling backhandedly praised as “old-fashioned.” In fact, it’s timeless. These pages crackle with excitement — and charging cavalries, false identities, arranged marriages, scheming industrialists and missing persons ... Lucius may fail, but the novel he carries is a spectacular success.
The beauty of Daniel Mason’s new novel, The Winter Soldier, persists even through scenes of unspeakable agony. That tension reflects the span of his talent. As a writer, Mason knows how to capture the grace of a moment ... he’s extraordinarily good at conjuring up journeys into unfamiliar places ... The story that unfolds in this forsaken place is so captivating that you may feel as unable to leave it as Lucius does ... The descriptions of maggots are a vision of hell you will never forget ... The redemption the story ultimately offers is equally unlikely and gorgeous, painfully limited but gratefully received in a world thrown into chaos.
You can let down your guard and simply enjoy this unfashionable genre in the hands of a master writer. That's how I felt from the very first pages of Daniel Mason’s new novel, The Winter Soldier, a captivating story set in the Austro-Hungarian Empire during World War I ... early passages describing the hospital, its various characters and the education that Lucius receives there—both medical and romantic—are among the many marvels ... Mason, himself a physician...has a light touch with such dark subjects. Light, too, is the deployment of his thorough historical research. The archaic military terminology...establishes a rich sense of this bygone war but never distracts from the characters or story. The Winter Soldier is a novel that happens to draw on history, but it does what all the best novels do: Creates a world in which readers pleasurably lose themselves.