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I love mustelid haberdashery, vinho verde wine, and wensleydale with fruit.

Bitter Seeds - Ian Tregillis

So this is an alternate history tale, and I find it fascinating that so much alternate history is predicated on WWII/Nazis.   I can't decide if that's because WWII is such a pivotal (recent) time in our (western civ) culture/collective memories, or because Nazis really were so bat-shit crazy/evil that it's easy to write a story involving them where the suspension of disbelief is so easy to go with.  And, well, they do make for the ultimate bad guy you'll never root for.  I mean, Nazis... what did those guys NOT do? what were they actually not (morally) capable of?  Pretty much nothing.   And the WWs were major events that dominated the last century... so sure?


Anyhoodle, on to the story.   There's a mad-German-scientist who, using steampunky/industrial revolution get ups and creative experimenting on orphans, creates an army of supermen (very Xmen-ish) that have supernatural like powers.   There's a pre-cog girl, a disappearing boy, a human torch, and others.    The girl, Greta, is not just a pre-cog, but a stone cold sociopath, which makes for a darling combo.  I kinda <3 her.


On the Allied side, we've got actual warlocks, who speak some kind of primeval language to otherworldly beings who are able to alter objects or environments in our world.  Sounds fun, except that these beings have a literal blood price for everything they do.   There's Will, a peer and warlock, and Marsh, an elevated orphan - spy guy who also happens to be Will's friend.

So we've got Xmen vs Warlocks, which sounds super cheesy, except that the author does a great job in making the atmosphere in this book work.  It's gritty and dark and depressing and hard and painful.   Everyone is committing atrocities, the good guys and the bad, although there are a couple of "seriously?" moments (infanticide and necrophilia among them) that seem like a bit much.

So the book is actiony and rough, but the characters don't have a lot of control over what is going on, making them pieces rather than players, and the character development isn't good enough to make me really invest in any characters, though the book was quite solid.

And while I like our sociopath, I don't /like/ the sociopath.   There are plenty of "look away" moments, but no crying for pity for characters.  It sucks.  For everyone.

I do look forward to finishing the trilogy (I think), it is interesting, and I love how alt-world stuff works and how it can highlight perceptions of times and events and attitudes.