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Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis
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Bitter Seeds

by Ian Tregillis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Milkweed Triptych (1)

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6524622,858 (3.73)45
It's 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between. Raybould Marsh is a British secret agent in the early days of the Second World War, haunted by something strange he saw on a mission during the Spanish Civil War: a German woman with wires going into her head who looked at him as if she knew him. When the Nazis start running missions with people who have unnatural abilities--a woman who can turn invisible, a man who can walk through walls, and the woman Marsh saw in Spain who can use her knowledge of the future to twist the present--Marsh is the man who has to face them. He rallies the secret warlocks of Britain to hold the impending invasion at bay. But magic always exacts a price. Eventually, the sacrifice necessary to defeat the enemy will be as terrible as outright loss would be.… (more)
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» See also 45 mentions

English (44)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (46)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
  macthekat82 | May 26, 2018 |
One of my favorite alternate history novels of all time. The 2nd book in the series is suppose to be even better. I look forward to finding out. ( )
  CSDaley | Mar 28, 2018 |
Bitter Seeds was "different" enough to warrant a slow & savory reading. The characterization was very engaging, I can believe in these folks, picturing them so as to cast my own moving pictures version....
Set in WW2, we're brought into the story with post-WW1 prologue. There is an inkling of mad-scientist Germans and equally mad British magicians.
Magic, in this story, is more what I fear it could be - there is no pixie dust, and the price demanded is so harsh.
Germany doesn't get much of a change-over in this Alt History, still so many atrocities against humanity all for the betterment of the Reich, the Germanic Ideal.
Honestly, Britain doesn't seem that different either, except for the tossing in of the warlocks. (In an aside - there seems to be only male magic wielders... probably some tradition that believed women too weak or some such)
We follow the war efforts of Raybould Marsh, a British agent who saw something ... odd... at the end of the Spanish Civil War. Part of MI6, the project is named Milkweed, and into it Marsh brings his friend Will, younger son of an ~old~ brit family and a reluctant warlock.
Magic ain't pretty in these pages, has a tendency to drive one mad.

I won't go on & on here, no use for spoilers, and there are some splendid reviews out there - go surf.

Something I've heard but Do Not agree with: this book has been likened to Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.... no way. I'll say no more (except I'm looking forward to the next book) ( )
  kmajort | Feb 9, 2018 |
This was a cracking good read. A story set in an "alternate" timeline where a Nazi scientist is developing a new breed of super-men with psychic powers as weapons for the Reich. To counter this threat the British MI-6 recruits warlocks who bargain with nether-worldly powers in order to defend England against invasion.

The story outline sounds enjoyably grotesque and I went in to this expecting nothing more than some macabre entertainment. At first I thought that was all it would be - the writing was serviceable with one or two interesting turns of phrase. The characters all seemed painted in broad strokes and fit the usual molds. But as the story proceeds things began to take a darker and darker turn - Germany faces defeat with the help of eldritch powers but as time goes on the British warlocks have had to pay a heavier and heavier "blood price" and the end of the book does not bring with it a sense of victory but a deep foreboding about what is to follow. (its worth noting this book is the first in a trilogy). I'm looking forward to see where the story goes from here. ( )
  iftyzaidi | Feb 5, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
don’t hang around, pick up a copy of ‘Bitter Seeds’ and get reading right away. I particularly enjoyed the way that Tregillis not only weaves his story into the historical background (making it all sound very plausible and part of events) but uses it to send the path of history running in a slightly different direction at times. It’s ‘alternate history’ done so cleverly that you don’t even realise you’re running down a different track. Tregillis shows that he has an eye for the spectacular, on more than one level, with scenes that show just what the clever use of a relatively minor ability can do to a tank, a group of enemy combatants and even the entire Maginot Line.

It’s not just the fight scenes that make for compulsive reading. The use of these powers sends the plot in some very interesting directions with the march to victory switching between parties on a regular basis. Things move so quickly that you have to keep reading to follow it all, you don’t dare miss a word.

It would be doing the book a real disservice though to paint it as a straight fight between powers though, no matter how well it is done on the page. For me, the real strength of ‘Bitter Seeds’ (and maybe where this title was born) lies in it’s exploration of occult warfare and the price that must be paid for victory

‘Bitter Seeds’ is nothing short of an awesome read

Ten out of Ten
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ian Tregillisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pariseau, KevinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between

Raybould Marsh is a British secret agent in the early days of the Second World War, haunted by something strange he saw on a mission during the Spanish Civil War: a German woman with wires going into her head who looked at him as if she knew him.

When the Nazis start running missions with people who have unnatural abilities—a woman who can turn invisible, a man who can walk through walls, and the woman Marsh saw in Spain who can use her knowledge of the future to twist the present—Marsh is the man who has to face them. He rallies the secret warlocks of Britain to hold the impending invasion at bay. But magic always exacts a price. Eventually, the sacrifice necessary to defeat the enemy will be as terrible as outright loss would be.

Alan Furst meets Alan Moore in the opening of an epic of supernatural alternate history, the tale of a twentieth century like ours and also profoundly different.
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