As an editor, there’s no better feeling than reading a submission that blinds you with its sheer brilliance. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s one of the most exciting things about working in publishing.
Bitter Seeds was one of those submissions. I’d heard some positive murmurings coming out of the US about Ian Tregillis’s debut novel, but began reading the book with no particular expectations – and was left amazed by its vivid prose, bold action sequences and the wonderful depth of its characterisation. Not to mention the underlying plot that regularly crosses into the realms of sheer genius.
Bitter Seeds – and the other two books in the Milkweed Triptych, The Coldest War and Necessary Evil – have something of the chameleon about them, in that their underlying plots are constantly shifting and evolving. Just when you think you might have figured them out, they’ll change direction and completely shatter your expectations (my jaw dropped so many times when reading this trilogy that I attracted more than one strange look from my fellow commuters).
These novels are also chameleonic (totally a word, I looked it up!) in the sense that they weave so many different elements together to form something unique. At heart, the books are adventure stories – Nazi superhumans battling British warlocks – with a dangerously high dosage of action and espionage. Yet these novels are also subtle and extremely intelligent, weaving plots that shock and delight in equal measure, not to mention packing a serious emotional punch when the stakes are at their highest.
There are a host of complex, memorable characters within the pages of these books, such as Raybould Marsh, who must constantly balance his loyalty to his country with his love for his family, and Will Beauclerk, whose powers may end the war but destroy him in the process. Yet most memorable of all is Gretel, a gypsy orphan who wields a manipulative power so great that life itself is just another pawn in her Grand Design – the ultimate outcome of which only she knows.
One thing is for sure: you’ll certainly never see it coming.
Praise for Ian Tregillis and the Milkweed novels:
A confident and thrilling debut” – SFX
“An imaginative tour de force” – KIRKUS
“[An] astonishing, brilliant, pulse-pounding debut trilogy” – CORY DOCTOROW
“Compelling, fascinating and frighteningly convincing” – FANTASY FACTION
“Ian Tregillis is a major new talent . . . I can’t wait to see more” – GEORGE R. R. MARTIN