Someone is killing Britain's warlocks.
Twenty-two years after the Second World War, a precarious balance of power maintains the peace between Great Britain and the USSR. For decades, the warlocks have been all that stand between the British Empire and the Soviet Union-- a vast domain stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the shores of the English Channel. But now each death is another blow to Britain's security.
Meanwhile, a brother and sister escape from a top-secret research facility deep behind the Iron Curtain. Once subjects of a twisted Nazi experiment to imbue ordinary humans with extraordinary abilities, then prisoners of war in the vast Soviet 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 drawn back into the world of Milkweed, he discovers that Britain's darkest acts didn't end with the war. And as he strives to protect Queen and country, he's forced to confront his own willingness to accept victory at any cost.
Also listen to the first book, Bitter Seeds.
©2012 Ian Tregillis (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"...engrossing....Tregillis ably mixes cold war paranoia with his mythology...." (Publishers Weekly)
Surprising, unconventional, exciting, and the ending leaves you wanting the third book NOW. Superior book in every way to his debut novel Bitter Seeds.
Just read up that Ian Tregillis's had this manuscript finished since 2010, and the hard cover is only coming out in June of this year.
Really hope these editors can get it together over at TOR. Would hate to wait two more years for the third book.
Cheers to Audible for getting this months before the hardcover edition. Hope they can pull strings for the next one as well.
Great listen. Fascinating story.
I have to save my sensitive eyes for thesis-writing, so audiobooks are how I keep up with my favourite authors and have fun.
Milkweed is back, two decades after we last left them. I was dubious about the time-skip at first, but it turned out to be a great decision on Tregillis' part - it really works well. A lot of mysteries are explained in this installment, and even more questions are introduced. Can't wait for the third book!
This second installment of the Milkweed Triptych was outstanding! Even though the performance degenerated into camp at times, Tregillis's wordsmithing transported me from my dull and dreary commute into another world filled with warlocks and Ubermenschen. The twist at the end had me cheering. Highly recommended!
This may be even better than the first book. With the Nazis out of the picture, and Britain's enemy now the Soviet Union, the focus shifts to activities in the UK instead of jumping back and forth between Germany and England. The Nazis were comic-book evil, and the soviets are largely unportrayed, so the Eidolans can successfully emerge as the main antagonist. Gretel remains a mystery, but gets some really good scenes, as does increasing sympathetic brother Klaus. While I'm not sure I completely follow the discussion of timelines, which twist and are twisted like Gretel's braids, I do like the ending and haven't a clue where the story will go in Book 3.
One word can only describe these two books by Tregillis - brilliant. Rarely do I rate books, but I thought these two deserved it. You won't be disappointed.
Kevin Pariseau performance was very convincing and complemented Tregillis's work nicely.
The end of book 2 left me thinking for days!
I read science fiction and fantasy, but I also like literary fiction, the classics, the occasional mystery/thriller, and non-fiction.
Warning: This review contains spoilers for book one, Bitter Seeds.
This is one epic, high-stakes alt-history series. After reading "Bitter Seeds," I thought book two would pick up where book one left off, at a turning point in World War II. Instead, it skips forward two decades and we're now in 1963 and the height of the Cold War.
But it's a very different Cold War. In Bitter Seeds, Britain unleashed the power of the Eidolons, vastly powerful demonic beings who live in the cracks in time and space, in order to stop the Third Reich and their supermen. When we last saw Klaus and Gretel, two of those Nazi supersoldiers, they had been captured by Soviet troops.
The Coldest War begins twenty-two years later. Britain won the war, but at a horrific cost. While the nation has completely bought into the myth of "Britain's finest hour" and how the brave people of England beat back the Nazi hordes with sheer determination, people like Raybould Marsh and William Beauclerk know better. Britain beat back the Nazi hordes by sacrificing thousands of innocent people to pay the Eidolons' blood prices. Following the collapse of the Third Reich, the USSR spread uncontested across Europe and now controls the entire continent.
Now the Soviets are trying to kill off Britain's warlocks while preparing to take over the world with their own army of supermen. If Britain can no longer summon Eidolons, nothing will stop the USSR from swallowing the last bit of independent Europe.
(Where is the U.S. in all this? Pretty much off-stage. Nixon is President and there are mentions of race riots, but Americans apparently played no part in World War II and play no part in this book.)
The alternate history here is interesting, and the book is rife with moral dilemmas. Pretty much everyone does horrible things for what they perceive to be the greater good; some have an easier time living with their conscience than others.
Ironically, Klaus, the former Nazi assassin (though he was never really a Nazi, just a tool raised and used by the Nazis) is one of the most sympathetic characters. He realizes he just wants the "normal" life he's never had, and is willing to engage in heroics to get it.
But his sister, Gretel, is the dark heart of this book. Gretel is a mad genius who can see the future, with an accuracy that verges on omniscience. No matter what anyone does, it turns out to be something Gretel planned. So the big question looming over the course of the last two books has been: what is Gretel's long game? She let Germany lose the war, she let herself and her brother be captured by the Soviets, and it looks like she's going to let the world end.
At the very end of this book, we find out what Gretel's game has been, and the pieces on the board get rearranged in a big way. I am ambivalent about what to expect from the next book: in a way it seems like a cheat. But this is a brilliantly plotted story arc, with elements of alternate history, time travel, and of course, "superhero" battles and eldritch horrors. Characterization gets more attention in this book, but the action is still fast-paced and violent.
Highly recommended: sci-fi/fantasy adventure with spies, super-soldiers, warlocks and demons in a grim alternate history.
Really in the top third of my library, this story reveals a cold war on many fronts--political as well as personal.
While I don't have a book in mind that compares to it in tone or storyline, the Larry Correia, Grimnoir Chronicles explores some of the various "powers" as well.
Kevin Pariseau has all the accents and foreign languages down. It is a joy to hear him pronounce the French words!
I really had approach and avoidance on this book. Some of the scenes were so painful! However, I have already listened to it twice!
"The Coldest War" is a grown-up book. It delves into relationships that are struggling and painful. It was real and wrenching. I was holding out for a different story line, and hope Agnus has a role in the next book. Tregillis is a rare writer who gives the reader a character that they can love a charater like a brother--and want to give him advice!
I've been anxiously awaiting this audiobook ever since I finished "Bitter Seeds." This, the second book in the series, is absolutely amazing! The performance is spectacular and the story pulled me in right away. Luckily I can work while listening because I had a hard time putting this down and listened to the whole thing over 2 days. ;) Highly reccommennded!!
Readers should first check out Tregellis' "Bitter Seeds," the first installment in this series.
'The Coldest War' is everything a reader could hope for in the second book in a series--it answers some questions while posing a great many more, and leaves the reader emotionally aching and desperate for resolution.
These first two books are woven together nicely. So intricate are their connections, in fact, that I'm thinking of re-listening to the first book, so that I can appreciate it with a taste of foreknowledge. The Coldest War seems much darker than Bitter Seeds, and in many ways more mature,
If you enjoyed Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War will be a winner.
The Coldest War is the second of Ian Tregillis's triptych about an alternative history of the Second World War and its aftermath. The first novel mainly covered the period from the Spanish Civil War until the defeat of Nazi Germany. This novel picks up the main characters in the early 1960s, about 20 years after the end of the first book. It is at the height of the cold war.
Of course it is a cold war unlike the one we knew. How could it be otherwise when Soviet supermen contest with British warlocks? This book provides a lot of suspense and action and some really unusual magic. At the end the world literally hangs in the balance. (Avoiding spoilers -- there is resolution, but all is not resolved.)
I await the third section of the triptych.
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