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The Coldest War


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* Review copies mailed to the online, print and blogging press* Featured on and in Orbit ezine* Author website at

About the Author

Ian Tregillis is the son of a bearded mountebank and a discredited tarot card reader. He was born and raised in Minnesota, where his parents had landed after fleeing the wrath of a Flemish prince. (The full story, he's told, involves a Dutch tramp steamer and a stolen horse.) Nowadays he lives in New Mexico, where he consorts with writers, scientists and other unsavoury types.


The engrossing second book in Tregillis's Milkweed Triptych (after Bitter Seeds) takes up years later, in an alternate 1963 in which the warlocks of the British Empire protect the land from the Soviet Union. Secret agent Raybould Marsh and mage Will Beauclerk again find themselves drawn into the conflict, as the plans of the precognitive Gretel-newly escaped from Russia-finally start to come to fruition. Tregillis ably mixes cold war paranoia with his mythology, also nicely expanding characters (particularly Gretel) who had seemed one-dimensional previously. The monstrous, extra-dimensional Eidolons add a genuinely convincing menace that transcends the more banal evil motivations of the political game players, although Gretel's more complicated motivations really drive the action. A few nice twists keep things interesting, and the cliffhanger ending sets up the concluding volume quite well, though some readers will be frustrated by the lack of resolution. Agent: Kay McCauley, the Pimlico Agency. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

In an alternate world, it is 1963 and the Cold War is in full swing. Britain's few remaining warlocks, who wielded the power that ended World War II after only two years, now protect the English from the Soviet menace. But one by one they are dying in suspicious accidents. At the same time, siblings Klaus and Gretel, victims of Nazi experiments that sought to endow subjects with superpowers, escape from a Russian prison and flee to England. Their actions, guided by Gretel's mad visions, lead to the reactivation of former SIS spy Raybould Marsh, a man now ruined by his wartime activities. To save Britain, Marsh must return to the activities that cost him his chance at a normal life. VERDICT This follow-up to Bitter Seeds explores the consequences of using evil methods for the greater good. Well-drawn characters and a feel for time and place make this an excellent journey into an alternate Britain and should please fans of Harry Turtledove and Naomi Novik. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

I tore through this one in a day and a half. Tregillis is a major new talent in the field, and this is some of the best - and most exciting - alternate history I've read. Bravo. - Cory Doctorow

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