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The Coldest War (Milkweed Triptych) by Ian…
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The Coldest War (Milkweed Triptych) (edition 2013)

by Ian Tregillis

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2141954,496 (4.07)4
Member:KateSherrod
Title:The Coldest War (Milkweed Triptych)
Authors:Ian Tregillis
Info:Tor Books (2013), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 352 pages
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The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis

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English (17)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All (19)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Oh, holy cow did I enjoy this. Nazi superheroes vs. English warlocks are pretty much a safe bet with me. There should be more such books. Go on, I'll wait here with my money. ( )
  Jon_Hansen | Apr 2, 2017 |
Loved it. ( )
  s.pando | Nov 4, 2016 |
Loved it. ( )
  s.pando | Nov 4, 2016 |
Possibly even better than the first book. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Oct 26, 2016 |
Downstairs you have locked up a man who can walk through walls like a ghost. And his sister, who can read the future as easily as you and I read the god-damned newspaper. Now, you tell me something. Do you honestly believe it took them twenty-odd years to escape?" (pg. 114).

The Coldest War sees Ian Tregillis continuing the fine work he did with Bitter Seeds, the first book in this so-called 'Milkweed Triptych'. After the Eidolon-induced VE Day, this book sees a new status quo in Europe (hint: there's a 'Paris Wall'). Set roughly twenty years after the war of book one, Tregillis' alternative-history world convinces as it remains grounded in historical plausibility (you know, aside from the blood magic and supermen). At first, I was confused as to why the United States does not have a larger role in Tregillis' world, but realised that as the war ended early with British victory, the USA never usurped a war-weary British Empire as the dominant superpower, never pulled herself out of economic depression by becoming the 'arsenal of democracy'. Consequently, in Tregillis' Cold War, the American Depression has entered its fourth decade (pg. 252) and the two superpowers facing-off are the Soviet Union with its legion of supermen and the British Empire with its warlocks. As Tregillis suggests, time is a cruel alchemist (pg. 37), both for the world he has built and the characters he has created; the decision to mess with dark forces beyond the control of men has begun to reap terrible and ominous consequences. (But, on page 36, we discover that the Beatles still exist in this alternate history, so maybe Tregillis' crapsack world is not so bad after all!)

Into this chaos and strife steps Gretel, up to her old tricks, and this second instalment of the Milkweed trilogy revolves predominantly around the various interested parties trying to understand her, control her, and avoid her wake. This means it is less action-packed than Bitter Seeds - after all, this one is set in the Cold War rather than a 'hot' war - but the reader's interest is maintained by Gretel's constant scheming and manipulations, as gradually and tantalisingly her plans are revealed. And this is The Coldest War's main strength - Tregillis' mastery of plotting. It is a very clever book - I don't want to spoil what happens but even minor events from earlier in the book (as well as from Bitter Seeds) are shown to be of grand importance, from Heike's suicide in the first book (pg. 19) to the scenes recounted in this book's epilogue (it brilliantly tweaks part of Chapter 5 from Bitter Seeds). Gretel even has time to toy with Reinhardt (pg. 373) along the way. Gretel, this "remorseless... chess player sacrificing pieces according to her grand strategy" (pg. 148) is a truly fantastic character, and it says a lot for Tregillis' storytelling ability that even at the reveal-all ending she still remains somewhat of an enigma.

The Coldest War also builds on Bitter Seeds' great start by fleshing out the threat posed by the Eidolons. Frustratingly, I can't really say much on this without spoiling the plot for would-be readers, but suffice to say that the malice detected by Marsh and the others in the Bitter Seeds negotiations is bolder and more chilling than ever.

Ian Tregillis is proving himself an exceptional writer, adept at weaving the complex strands of the plot together across three books, switching seamlessly between the perspectives of multiple characters and providing strong characterisation (particularly of Marsh). His language is less dense than the first book, retaining the lyrical dexterity shown off in Bitter Seeds but finding a better balance with a thriller-like pacing that allowed me to read through The Coldest War much quicker than I did the first. Above all, it is always invigorating when you see a writer take on with a high-concept story and pull it off with aplomb. Tregillis is crafting something really special here, and the third book in the series, Necessary Evil, may well prove to be the best Milkweed book yet." ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
There were scenes here that were simply stunning. There were cool ideas and wonderful moments backed up with excellent prose. But that’s not what kept me going back for more again and again (sometimes when I really didn’t have the time to read but I just had to read a few pages more anyway). It was the character interaction. It was the way the story wove in and out of various viewpoints and crisscrossed each other. Every time I thought I knew where the story was going, a new twist would be added. Gretel’s character in particular was a favorite. We never get her as a viewpoint character, instead focusing more on her brother Klaus (who was really fascinating to read about as well). Throughout the last book and this one it’s seen that Gretel has a plan for this grand future ahead and every action she takes is helping her get to that foreseen future. Some of the actions appear meaningless and others confusing. I loved reading about her and seeing her scheme her way towards her goal. The ultimate payoff of that work at the end of this book was great. The book tied up well while at the same time leaving me salivating for more.

Age Recommendation: 16+ nothing especially egregious
Language: Not a ton, but there.
Violence: A bit. Fascinating and cool, but a bit.
Sex: Mentioned but not shown.
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ian Tregillisprimary authorall editionscalculated
McGrath, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Man is a rope tied between beast and superman—a rope over an abyss.

—Friedrich Nietzsche
Live with your century but do not be its creature.

—Friedrich Schiller
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

—Exodus 22:18 (KJV)
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For Melinda, confidant and co-conspirator
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Warlocks do not age gracefully.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765321513, Hardcover)

In Ian Tregillis' The Coldest War, a precarious balance of power maintains the peace between Britain and the USSR. For decades, Britain's warlocks have been all that stands between the British Empire and the Soviet Union—a vast domain stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the shores of the English Channel. Now each wizard's death is another blow to Britain's national security.

Meanwhile, a brother and sister escape from a top-secret facility deep behind the Iron Curtain. Once subjects of a twisted Nazi experiment to imbue ordinary people with superhuman abilities, then prisoners of war in the immense Soviet research effort to reverse-engineer the Nazi technology, they head for England. 

Because that's where former spy Raybould Marsh lives. And Gretel, the mad seer, has plans for him.

As Marsh is once again drawn into the world of Milkweed, he discovers that Britain's darkest acts didn't end with the war. And while he strives to protect queen and country, he is forced to confront his own willingness to accept victory at any cost.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:48 -0400)

A tale set in an alternate-universe, post-World War II era finds precarious peace agreements between England and the USSR threatened by the murders of warlocks responsible for safeguarding British national security, a situation that falls into the hands of two supernaturally enhanced siblings and a former spy who would protect the queen.… (more)

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