Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review of Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

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.
Right out of the box I have to say that if you follow this author's blog you will know why I am and always am going to be a reader and not a writer. True, I only know what Ian has been gracious enough to put on his blog for all his fans to follow but, it really sounds to me like he is getting the shaft left and right when it comes to getting his books published. To his credit though he posts about all his dealings with the entire process which leads me to believe that along with his own struggle with writing AND working a full time job, that he is genuinly aware that there are people out there that have read and loved his books and are wondering where the next in the series is. Well, I am not going to go into a full rant just know that I think problems like this are just hogwash!
Now for the review... Bitter Seeds is a solid, fast paced, part historical fiction, part speculative fiction/fantasy debut novel. I have never been a huge, huge fan of history so out of the countless books out there plotted around WWII I have not read many. But this was a really great read for me as the opposing sides had warlocks and technologically advanced superhumans. To me it seemed like the Nazis had the upper hand for the majority of this portion of the story and it exacted to me just how ruthless and out of control they were. The literary prose in this book is absolutely spectacular. In fact this is the first line in the book and to me it speaks volumnes about the style and quality of writing that you are in for: "Murder on the wind: crows and ravens wheeled beneath a heavy sky, like spots of ink splashed across a leaden canvas." The book in a lot of ways is very character driven and that was appealing to me as well. Even though I have a real distaste for the methods of the S.S. military I found myself relating to the characters on that side. Getting a brief introduction when some of these key people were in there youth went a long way with me. Even on the British Royal Navy side of the war with Marsh and Will we got to see just how far people would go when desparation and loss really sinks in and takes control of you. And although she was more spoken about than anything, Gretal, I think was the real star of the show. I really hope in the upcoming parts she plays a bigger role in all the action. It is really eating at me to find out what exactly the Eidolan's have in their plot for the soul they weasled out of Will. And is Agnes REEEALLY gone? Don't know... It's a mystery that will keep me pining for the rest of the series. As always, Thank-you Mr. Tregillis for a great debut novel. May all your publishing woes vanish from the success and praise of this first novel.

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