In a strange way, it feels like the equally well-written Helliconia Spring was but the prolog to Helliconia Summer, a well-crafted, huge-canvass story of politics, warfare, and religion on this now well-established earth-like planet some one thousand lightyears from the one we call home.
Once Mr. Aldiss had created and set the Helliconia stage during its long Spring, he now proceeds during its longer Summer with a detailed and very absorbing tale of warring kingdoms, blind religious (and powerful) faiths, political scheming and a search for historical truth (as always, unwelcome amongst believers). While in some aspects this plot could have been set in any environment, Helliconia provides a multi-layered backdrop that tends to intensify the story’s movement.
It is a book to sink into and be engulfed by, and to enjoy. It was recognized as a masterpiece on its publication, and it has certainly stood the test of the thirty-five some years since.
As an aside, Mr. Aldiss has an amazingly broad vocabulary, and he uses it liberally—keep a dictionary handy.