Ten years ago, Ian Tregillis‘s superb debut novel, BITTER SEEDS was published!
We’re actually cheating, just a little bit, here: the novel was published ten years ago in North America, and only arrived in 2012 in the UK (where we represent Ian). Nevertheless: we are very happy to seize any excuse to talk about the fantastic Milkweed Triptych! We also think it’s a great time to either read it for the first time, or revisit the series.
The critically-acclaimed BITTER SEEDS is published in the UK by Orbit Books. Here’s the synopsis…
The year is 1939. Raybould Marsh and other members of British Intelligence have gathered to watch a damaged reel of film in a darkened room. It appears to show German troops walking through walls, bursting into flames and hurling tanks into the air from afar.
If the British are to believe their eyes, a twisted Nazi scientist has been endowing German troops with unnatural, unstoppable powers. And Raybould will be forced to resort to dark methods to hold the impending invasion at bay.
But dealing with the occult exacts a price. And that price must be paid in blood.
Ian Tregillis’ Bitter Seeds is a chilling masterpiece – a tale of a twentieth century like our own and also profoundly different.
Orbit has also published the other two novels in the trilogy: THE COLDEST WAR and NECESSARY EVIL.
The Milkweed Triptych was met with a huge wave of critical acclaim when it was published. Here’s just a small selection…
‘Debut novelist Tregillis breathes new life into alternate military history with this fun take on WWII… exciting and intense, and the clash of magic and (mad) science meshes perfectly with the tumultuous setting.’ — Publishers Weekly on BITTER SEEDS
‘Tregillis has journeyed into that most overtilled field, World War II alternate history, and in the process he has created a unique, unsettling, and deeply atmospheric setting; populated it with a diversity of grimly fascinating characters; and turned up the heat with the sort of plot that requires those characters to keep shoveling frantically if they are ever to stay in advance of the needs of the firebox… These are the book’s strengths – its atmosphere, its setting, the vividly imagined consequences of immoral and desperate actions… All in all, this is an excellent first book, and I am eagerly awaiting number two.’ — Tor.Com (Elizabeth Bear) on BITTER SEEDS
‘It’s been a long time coming to these shores, but BITTER SEEDS is finally available in the UK. The wait has been entirely worth it, too, as this is one of the best novels I’ve read this year. It’s original, inspired and engrossing from the first page until the last. It is a very assured, well-written, and accomplished debut… brilliantly written, and filled with so many great passages – from brisk and realistic dialogue to lush, gothic description. The story kept me guessing until the end, and drops plenty of hints for things to come in the future. Tregillis’s prose is lush and fluid, and I frequently found myself caught up in the narrative. I read this in just four sittings (it would have been fewer, had life not got in the way), delighted every time I picked it up how easy it was to sink back into this world. Overall, this is a superb novel, and a wonderful start to this series. As a debut, it’s spectacular. I loved everything about BITTER SEEDS, and I definitely consider it among my best reads this year.’ — Civilian Reader
‘Independently intelligible sequel to the dark fantasy BITTER SEEDS, something like a cross between the devious, character-driven spy fiction of early John le Carré and the mad science fantasy of the X-Men… Despite the jaw-dropping backdrop and oblique plotting, the narrative is driven by character and personal circumstance, the only possible drawback being certain important developments that annoyingly take place offstage. Grim indeed, yet eloquent and utterly compelling.’ — Kirkus (Starred Review, “Best of 2012”)
‘The engrossing second book in Tregillis’s Milkweed Triptych… Tregillis ably mixes cold war paranoia with his mythology, also nicely expanding characters (particularly Gretel)… 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…’ — Publishers Weekly
‘With all the flair he showed in his debut novel, Tregillis continues the tale, bringing to it that same marvellous plotting, immersive sense of place, and above all, wonderful characters. One of the characters introduced in the first novel is a precognitive, and in this volume – which revolves around her long plots – we are shown that the power to see the future is the most corrupting power of them all. Tregillis’s oracle is one of the most chilling psychopath villains of literature, a delicious monster who drives the book forward. As with the earlier volume, 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.’ — BoingBoing on THE COLDEST WAR
‘In this bleak fantasy, World War II was fought between Nazis with devastating psychic powers and British warlocks employing Eidolons, irresistible demons beyond time and space – a struggle the British ultimately lost… intensity of the narrative, the torments of the protagonist or the deviously alluring storyline. Darkly fascinating… A thoroughly satisfying conclusion to an imaginative tour de force.’ — Kirkus on NECESSARY EVIL
‘Tregillis brings the novel and series to a brilliant close. The ending of NECESSARY EVIL is heart-wrenching… but it feels right, given what’s come before. The Milkweed Triptych is one of my all-time favourite series. It is a must-read. Very highly recommended.’ — Civilian Reader
‘NECESSARY EVIL takes everything I thought I knew about this series and then pulls the camera back to reveal we had only been peering down a microscope. All those little winks, the tiny nods to something bigger that you disregarded when reading, all the throwaway lines that you figure must get explained later and are quickly forgotten – this book is the payoff… so damned clever that it makes most other books look to be written in crayon… To sum up the Milkweed novels by Ian Tregillis in a nutshell is a bit like trying to squeeze your head into a toothpaste cap. It’s just not possible and the idea of Nazi super humans versus English warlocks really does this series a disservice. The Milkweed Triptych is a triumph of literature of any genre. It hits every note like a symphony of perfect destruction and is so scarily convincing that you can’t help but wonder, what if?’ — J For Jetpack
‘Tregillis’ conclusion of the Milkweed Triptych is the pièce de résistance of the series… a perfect marriage of science fiction, fantasy and alternate history. His narrative flows seamlessly, and his plot is fantastically convincing. Tregillis’ characters astound, the villains as well as the heroes, especially honorable, tormented yet heroic Raybould.’ — RT Book Reviews
‘The historic backdrop of World War Two is intricately detailed, and captures the British wartime spirit well. A suitably epic end to the magnificent Milkweed Triptych … this draws you in and keeps you glued to the page until the very end.’ — British Fantasy Society
If you have already read and loved the Milkweed Triptych, and are looking for more work by Ian, be sure to check out his equally-acclaimed Alchemy Wars series, also published by Orbit Books. Here’s the synopsis for the first novel, THE MECHANICAL…
My name is Jax.
That is the name granted to me by my human masters.
I am a slave.
But I shall be free.
Set in a world that might have been, of mechanical men and alchemical dreams, the new novel from Ian Tregillis confirms his place as one of the most original new voices in speculative fiction.
Zeno represents Ian Tregillis in the UK and Translation, on behalf of Kay McCauley at Aurous, Inc.