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Review: Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis (Milkweed Triptych #1)


Synopsis from Goodreads
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.

 Amazon  US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository US/UK


* * *
 I was lucky enough to find Bitter Seeds in Scotland at the house we were staying in on our vacation. Of course I grabbed the opportunity to read something that has been on my wishlist for ages!

It's a very good alternative history book although it's pretty dark and depressing and doesn't really have a happy ending. At times it reminded me Lightning by Dean Koontz, although the latter is written better.

I don't think there is only one main character in Bitter Seeds, it's much more complicated than that. 

On British side there is Marsh, a secret agent, whose chance encounter with a strange gypsy woman with the wires from her head, starts the whole Milkweed project - a reconnaissance mission to find out what the Germans experiment with and how Brits can stop them. There is also Marsh's old friend, young warlock Will, whose aristocratic family passes the skill from father to one of his sons each generation.

From German side there are brother and sister, Klaus and Gretel. He is the invisible man, and she is a precog. And let me tell you something about Gretel. She is beautiful, clever, strange and very, very unhinged. She is perhaps a mastermind in Bitter Seeds, a catalyst for a lot of very tragic events, and in a way she is more terrifying than the evil German scientist who first starts the project that increases the strength of human will and turn children into X-men. She is more terrifying than The Indolans - universal magical entity who just want to destroy humanity  but can't without the warlocks marking their way with our blood...

This is a dark book, violent and at the same time fitting to the whole topic of Second World War. The only happy end you'll get is the inevitable victory of the Allies, but the people involved into the project would never be normal again. 

I especially felt sorry for Will, who destroyed himself, his psyche and his vitality, so Britain could win the war, and for Klaus who only wanted to protect his sister and for them both to survive.

Bitter Seeds is... well, a bitter, but very interesting debut novel. Recommended.

* * *
Очень интересная книга, но сразу предупреждаю, что депрессивная и горькая. Немного напомнила мне Молнию Дина Кунца.

Здесь нет одного главного персонажа, скорее несколько главных героев с обоих сторон.

Со стороны Великобритании - Марш, секретный агент короны, и  Уилл, молодой чародей и друг Марша. Со стороны Германии: Клаус и его сестра Гретель.

Жизнь Марша меняется когда в начале войны он видит молодую женщину во Франции с проводами а голове. Когда его приглашают в секретную миссию, цель которой - узнать, что за эксперимент над детьми, который превращает тех в суперменов, проводят немцы, он втягивают в неё Уилла, который ошибочно предполагает, что немцы работают с магией.

Но германские учёные используют человеческую волю и специальные батареи, которые эту волю усиливают. Клаус, например, может стать человеком-невидимкой, а Гретель, странная, прекрасная и устрашающая цыганка, видит будущее. Гретель, по моему мнению, самая настоящая злодейка книги, она манипулирует людьми, включая собственного брата, как фигурками на шахматной доске, и становится каталистом трагических историй Марша и Уилла.

Альтернативная история Второй Мировой Войны не так уж и отлична от той, к которой мы привыкли за исключением того, что на стороне немцев - злой гений Гретель, а на стороне британцев - странные магические существа Индоланы, которые ненавидят само человечество и помогают британским чародеям только путём огромных человеческих жертв.

Интересно, странно, оригинально. Советую. Не надейтесь на счастливую концовку. Ни для кого. Её здесь просто нет.

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