Friday, August 21, 2015


So, here's me, tucking into the third volume of Ian Tregillis' Milkweed Triptych after having thought for two volumes that I was reading a trilogy of cool Lovecraft-flavored alternative history where bio-mechanically engineered Nazi uberpeople were pitted against heroic British warlocks, only to finally, finally penetrate the fact that what I've really been reading this whole time is the ultimate Phildickian exploration of what it would really mean to the world as a whole if an actual honest-to-Yog pre-cognitive had surfaced in our midst, by whatever means, ca the early 20th Century. Well, that and a little time travel thrown in, so said pre-cog can correct some things she missed the first pre-time pre-around. As it were.

Gretel, Gretel, Gretel. The Romany girl who was warped into being able to see all of time, but was so warped by the very people who were busily exterminating entire races of people, including her own, so developed an extreme instinct for self-protection and so searched every possibility in all of World War II for the best possible outcome for her except WHOOPS there was one WORLD ENDING WHOOPS end result that she hadn't really seen (or hadn't really taken seriously) and so for her last trick she manipulates another of our main characters, poor old Raybould Marsh, into making HIS last trick a trip into a whole new universe that... Look, I'm spoiling bits of the first two books here, but like the warning on the very top of this blog says, WARE SPOILERS.

Anyway, suffice it to say that in this new universe, it is World War II all over again, and, in this universe, there are now two Marshes, the one "born" in this universe and the much older, spectacularly scarred, embittered, sad, lonely and really kind of hopeless Marsh that survived Bitter Seeds and The Coldest War. To assist the reader, sad old Marsh's passages are told in the first person, while era-approriate Marsh stays in the third person. But to further twist the reader's brain, we get long passages from Gretel's multiplied points of view -- a difficult narrative feat that Tregillis pulls off very well, which is good because otherwise this book would just be a hot mess instead of a satisfying conclusion to this series.

What really sells me on this last book is that this brave new world is pretty much exactly our world, as far as historical events go. In Gretel's and Old Marsh's world, for instance, the Little Ships never happened, and Britain lost an entire army at and around Dunkirk. Which means that we really are seeing that the world Gretel couldn't mess with is the "real" world*. I dig this. I dig this right to the hot melty bits.

*Except there are still warlocks and Enochian and Eidolons and stuff in it. They've just been circumvented by, uh, [REDACTED]. He.

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