The Winter Fortress might have been the best book I read all of 2020 in any genre. The story of the Norwegian sabotage of the Nazi’s heavy water supply, necessary for the Nazi’s attempt to build an atom bomb, was rivetting.
This reads like sci-fi with a love–familial, platonic, and romantic as well. There is plenty of action, the science descriptions are some of the most comprehensible ever, and all of the characters are fleshed out and real.
One of the characters is the Norwegian landscape and winter, particularly the Hardangervidda, the forbidding, isolated plateau that was adjacent to the heavy water facility in Norway that the Nazis seized in their war effort. It was so cold and remote, that in winter, the Nazis were afraid to send patrols into it overnight. The Norwegians used remote cabins to hide out in. Covered in snow for six months out of the year, the Nazis couldn’t even see them from the air.
Most of the Norwegian saboteurs had grown up near the wilds. The descriptions of the type of person it takes to survive the vidda were wonderful. They had skills they’d learned in childhood as part of fun and games–hunting and preparing game, skiing, and building shelters–that were essential for their survival later. I would have perished.
There is a lot of exciting near escapes in this story. One thing that stood out was that no matter how carefully planned an operation was, dumb luck was sometimes what really saved the day. (If I used some of the dumb luck escapes in my fiction, I’d be pilloried for being unrealistic.)
I can’t recommend this one enough. I got this as an audiobook, and listened to this during my morning walks. Despite the sometime 13F / -10C temperatures I wound up walking far more than I intended, just to listen to a little more. (Although the descriptions of the heroes deprivations made those temperatures seem inconsequential, especially with hot chocolate and central heating at the end.
Apple, Nook, Kobo, GooglePlay also, as of this posting, available to borrow at Scribd (they have a 30 day free trial, and all of my I Bring the Fire and Archangel Project books are there at the moment too!)
(I got this when it was on sale, but didn’t finish the audiobook until the sale was over. However, you can get it through Scribd, and if you have an audible subscription, it’s still a great deal.)