One of my first alternative history (audible) books. Saw this in hardback, was waiting for the paperback - but to my surprise (even better) it's on Audible!
Basically, the British are losing the war - the US did not join in the war and the Germans have created the ??bermensch (Superman/women) - sociopathic orphans taken from WW I, and endowed with X-menesque power by mad scientists.
In response, a desperate Admiralty establish the Milkweed organisation - British warlocks that use magic to fight back.
I believe this is Tregillis' first novel - stunning piece of work and fortunately there's more to come as this is the first book of the Milkweed Triptych (trilogy).
Sci-Fi & Fantasy Reader
First off, I feel inclined to note that I gave the novel 3 stars, but I really wanted to give it 3.5 stars. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to others, but I just didn’t love it.
I decided to listen to this after hearing rave reviews from Tom and Veronica on the Sword and Laser podcast. They really talked it up and it had a pretty interesting premise so it felt like a no-brainer. To give a little background, Bitter Seeds is an alternate history set in Europe during World War II. In this retelling however, the British employ warlocks and the Germans basically have soldiers with superpowers.
Overall, I did enjoy it, but it definitely left something to be desired. The story wasn’t bad nor were the characters, but they also weren’t amazing. I never felt that invested in the characters (on either side). They were realistic enough, but were just somewhat flat. It’s hard to describe, because they weren’t poorly written or unlikeable…they were just kind of bland.
My biggest gripe with the story was the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say the climax fell short. I wanted big explosions and high excitement–it seemed like that’s where things were going–but that’s not how it played out and I was a little underwhelmed.
My only other comment is about the narrator, Kevin Pariseau. Mr. Pariseau has narrated a lot of novels and I expect that he’s pretty well respected, but he just didn’t feel like a great fit to me. Most of the novel takes place it the UK and it just stands to reason that a British narrator would have been selected. The accents of the characters would have been a bit more convincing and I think it would have increased my enjoyment.
That said, it was a pretty fun read. It’s not very long either so it’s no major investment.
I don't think I would listen to Bitter Seeds for a long while. I was expecting a golden age/pulp hero type of setting with super powers and magic based on the summary. Instead it was a horror story, and a darn good one.
Yes, the end of the first novel is a cliff hanger; however, I need some more lighthearted fair before diving back into the next novel.
I don't have a particularly favorite scene, however, Ian Tregillis did a great job of bring the story right to the brink of being too gruesome or callous (in terms of the "reality" of war and the supernatural) without crossing over, but not going into actual details so my imagination took over many times through out the story.
What price for victory?
Kevin Pariseau did a good job of bringing the different characters to life, it was easy to tell which character was speaking.
The story is complex, and may require more than one listen, many story lines are woven into one all-encompassing plot line.
The concept: it's fascinating. Considering that Hitler was such a fan of the occult and science...this story fits very well into the 'what if' scenario for the SS and what Hitler could have / might have done if he'd had the chance.
The description of the Taragon Film; where all the battery charged students are displaying their abilities.
It made me think hard about what levels of technology we have today versus what was cutting edge in 1940-41...if this is 'what might have been' then what are we headed towards today?
If you're not a fan of the WWII genre or steampunk, or accustomed to hearing German spoken/written, then you may have a hard time understanding sections of this book. However, don't pass up a great tale just because you may not know the language. Tregillis has woven a fascinating tale.
I love to read, but I am time-limited. Audible allows me to keep up with all my favorite authors while on the hiking trail. Thanks, Audible!
'Bitter Seeds??? takes us to an alternative World War II in which the Allied forces are developing demon weapons and defenses, and the Axis Forces are developing paranormal weapons and defenses. While this type of arms race is not new in literature, Ian Tregillis??? version reads more like a thrilling history book than fiction. Tregillis really has done his homework, and this story has the gravity and intrigue found in the real-life arms race to create an atomic bomb. This is an amazing book that captures the excitement and dread of an era that still shapes our view of the world today. I highly recommend it.
After reading the back cover of this book, I felt it sounded mildly interesting. Then I started listening.....I immediately was engrossed. As a fan of H.P. Lovecraft, I found some elements of that genera in the preface. As a fan of the RPG Godlike, I loved the similarities between this and the game. I am really looking forward to the rest of the series. Can only give 4 stars, some of the writing is needing some better editing, some sentences don’t flow as well as they could, and the reader’s accent is overdone at times. But this book is a great begining for a series.
Where ever I am that's where I'll be.
Ian Tregillis has written a tale of adventure, action, cyborg mystery and the occult injecting them into the iconic history of WWII. The story trail blazers into a unique place in fiction & for this listener doesn't follow the expected. First rate can't wait for more. See The Coldest War.
Frankly I would have to, there are so many aspects of this story, so many minute details that later come back to haunt you that re-listening to this book would be quite enjoyable. Not to mention the fact that story, reading and flow are all brilliant.
It's the pace, the mood and the accents. He has a good voice for action, intrigue, but also intimate moments.
We'll meet again, I know where, I know when. It's a tiny play on a song that is mentioned in the book. Incidentally I would also have that as the theme song for the trailer. Vera Lynn "We'll meet again".Incidentally I doubt this book could be made justice in a movie, It would on the other hand lend itself perfectly to the mini series format. There are just so many little facets that don't seem all that important at the time, that turn out to be crucial to the plot later.
As for the book and the story itself. It is simply breath taking, it has been years since I've had to stop an audiobook just to give myself the moment needed to gather my wits after the author simply turns my view of everything upside down in the most marvelous way I've experienced.
The Character's themselves are magnificent, human, brittle broken things, but still larger than life heroes doing their utmost to save what they believe in the most. This book and the one that comes after it are by far the best thing I've listened too / read in years. The integrate weave of plots that the author, and the characters weave around and through themselves will cause you to break out in shouts of horror, apprehension, delight and excitement all at the same time.
Truely Breathtaking work.
My wife says she can read me like an open book. Though she regrets not being able to shut me up the same way. :)
Magic, a team of warlocks, and scientifically engineered "x-men." This was a great idea for a story. Sadly, this story never got off the ground. I regret to say that the publisher's summary pulled me in; it was very well written and more intriguing than the actual story.
It seemed like the author kept padding the pages with narratives about minutiae that was unnecessary and which had the effect draaaaagggging the pace. I was a trooper, though, and kept at it. But, after a while, it seemed to me that the reason for the minutiae may have been because the author was waiting to see what inspiration he might get for compelling new scenes and scenarios. Nope, 'never got there. Inspiration apparently never quite flashed.
*** Caution: Mild spoiler follows... but very mild. If it matters to you, you can skip the paragraph below and continue to the next paragraph.***
Personally, I think the author shot himself in the foot with regard to the nature of the "physics" he defined for the warlocks in his story. The bounds he placed here, I think, sadly limited the many possible directions he could otherwise have taken such colorful characters as warlocks in World War II. Rather, he effectively reduced them to not much more than facilitators with some unique language skills, but no real power.
*** Mild spoiler part ends. You can safely continue reading below, if you want. ***
The other thing about this audio book that never quite gel'd for me is the performance of the german and british accents. Now, here I'm going to give the narrator, Mr. Pariseau, credit. As I have no real ear for British and German accents, all I can say is that Mr. Pariseau shifted between American / British / and German accents quite skillfully. He did well to use this skill in differentiating each character with consistency. I was able to keep up with which-character-was-which because of his skillful shifting. That said, the German accents in the story was fairly annoying... they came off as somewhat of a parody. But, like I said, I don't have an ear for what a proper German accent is supposed to sound like, so I'll give Mr. Pariseau the benefit of my untrained ear and just say the German-accented dialog just didn't help with the uptake in this story.
Overall recommendation: Move on.
I have to save my sensitive eyes for thesis-writing, so audiobooks are how I keep up with my favourite authors and have fun.
I can't wait for the sequels! Great story, great characters, and well-performed. It held my attention from start to finish - couldn't put it down! Intellectual, fantastical, and rich.