Bitter Seeds

Bitter Seeds

by Ian Tregillis

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Bitter Seeds 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At first, I thought this book was just ok. I hesitated a bit in buying the sequel...but, I was bored, so I did. Wow! You need to read this book, then the sequel (The Coldest War). Then, read this one again. Much that is opaque becomes clear :)
DonMassi More than 1 year ago
A dark masterpiece! Ian Tregillis successfully fuses slam bang World War II action, breathtaking international espionage, bizarre magic and genuinely evil super human nazis into a taut, exciting thriller. We get an in depth look at the reasons why good men do evil things for a greater good and the consequences of such actions. I thought the two main characters were interesting and believable. And the nazi super humans were as evil as you would expect, but Gretl was something else, scheming, mysterious and utterly depraved. If you're looking for something new in the world of super humans, this is the book for you. I can't wait for the next volume in this trilogy!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Wanting to build a superman and superwoman, German scientist Dr. von Westarp chooses WWI German orphans as his base for his experiments. Although many die and others are deformed, by 1939 the mad scientist has succeed in constructing his master race. However as WW II breaks out, he plans to use them to insure The Third Reich is victorious and remains in power for a thousand years. However, one of the successful test subjects Klaus fears his sister Gretel is using her precognitive skills to manipulate the team, but what agenda is remains unclear. Meanwhile British secret agent Raybould Marsh, who has his own father figure in Stephenson, knows first hand how powerful the enemy supervillains are as the German war machine blitzkriegs through all enemies. He enlists mage Will Beauclerk to help the British side, whose chances of victory seem slim. Will brings on allies from the warlock community including Olivia whom Marsh marries and has a daughter with her. When he ignores the warning not to deal with the mysterious Eidelons who will offer little and demand a lot, Will sees no other hope as the Germans are winning in the air, land and sea due to being the superpower. Although the cast is never fully developed beyond comic book stereotypes, readers will enjoy this entertaining action-packed alternate historical thriller. With homage to Moore's Watchmen, fans of action-packed WWII dramas will appreciate the loaded Bitter Seeds as superpower German warriors battle the mages of Britain for control of the continent and ultimately the world. Harriet Klausner
richardderus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rating: one annoyed star of five (p58)I am on record around these parts as disliking books containing Majgicqk. I have caused a slight coolness to come between myself and certain of my friends around here with my barely restrained snorts of derision at Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman and their comic-book-superhero storytelling ilk. What I've said about actual comic books...oh, do pardon, graphic novels...would have led to all-out breach were the advocates of same not bound to my soul with hoops of steel. (Google it, it's a reference.) So what on this goddesses' green earth convinced me to try a book that the publisher markets as "Alan Furst meets Alan Moore?" Alternative history, that's what. A different WWII.Well, that'll learn me. Never again. While I found Mr. Tregillis's writing to be quite deft and pleasant on the eyes, the story he's chosen to tell is just about 180 degrees away from my happy place. This story and I are badly suited, and that makes me feel sad. Superheroes and superpowers and Nazi-fighting...oh nay nay nay, not for this old man.However, and this is important, the storytelling voice here is ripping good stuff, and those without my allergy to stupid supernatural crapola are strongly urged to give Mr. Tregillis's well-written novel a test drive.
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This first volume in the new series features a Nazi experimental program that surgically alters children so that, upon adulthood, they have psionic abilities. These German horrors are opposed by a handful of British horrors in the form of aristocrats whose ancestors have passed down the lore for summoning powerful spirits¿provided enough human sacrifices are made. I moderately enjoyed the story, and I'm curious enough that I will pick up the second. However, it could have been a fair bit better.First, the pacing of the book is rather uneven. The beginning is quite well done. There's enough back-story to explain the alternate history and introduce the characters. The conflict is set up nicely. However, it slides downhill from about the midpoint. The action scenes where the German super-soldiers are actively engaged were definitely disappointing in their brevity. Most of all, the ending bothered me. It's clear that Tregillis is setting up for a sequel¿and there's nothing wrong with that¿but absolutely nothing is resolved is this volume, despite the clear pause in the story line with the ending of World War II.The characterizations were also uneven, with the German side much better realized than the British. Klaus, Gretel and the others are individual characters, full of strengths and weaknesses and a whole lot of psychological problems. The British warlocks are largely faceless blurs. Even Will, the one with the best claim to being a main character, never really steps off the flat paper of the book.Still, Tregillis makes the underlying plot concept interesting, and the conflict between Marsh and Gretel is quite intriguing. I think the reviews that use words like stunning and fabulous are way overboard, but I'll try the next volume. Recommended for fans of the genre but not outside that.
Aerrin99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up off John Scalzi's 'Big Idea' feature almost entirely because the 'big idea' behind this book - exploring a true, unlimited precognitive and what sort of power that /really/ means - absolutely enthralled me.I'm happy to say that the execution is solid. Tregillis is an excellent writer with a good sense of voice and place and time, all helpful when setting this alternate history full of magic and mad science down in WWII.Germany has a house full of orphans with superhuman powers - invisibility, intangibility, telekinesis, pyrokinesis, and, of course, precognition. Our precog, Gretel, is a bit of a loose cannon - she doesn't do what her good doctor wants, and while her intel is invaluable when it's right, many of her suggestions seem mystifying, and her motives are unclear.Britain, catching wind of some of these abilities but not what they are or how they work, forms a secret project, code-named Milkweed, to counteract them. Milkweed turns to warlocks who work their magic and pay terrible blood-prices to keep Britain safe.What's engaging in this book is also what makes it feel a little disappointing - because I was primed for it to be Gretel's story, it felt a bit odd that she's not the front-and-center character (it alternates between two British agents and Gretel's brother, Klaus). Gretel herself seem to perhaps be a bit of a sociopath, or at the very least someone who keeps herself above and apart from the rest of her colleagues (one of the effects of her abilities), which makes her both hard to relate to and hard to read.The largest frustration here is that we never really know Gretel, so we can never really place her loyalties or goals. Which means that while we can suspect,it's difficult to recognize for certain what events in the long chain are a direct result of her long-ranging plan. I suspect that at the end of this series, we may all sit back with our minds blown at the intricacy of it, but in the middle, it's a bit difficult to really grasp.That said, I /do/ recommend this book. It's an engaging read, and it has a wonderful sense of atmosphere. I'll most certainly be watching for the sequel as soon as it comes out, even with my suspicions about when the real payoff will come.
readinggeek451 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Nazis have a mad scientist who created younsters with psychic abilities. To fight them, the British recruit warlocks to raise demons. But there is a terrible price.A disquieting picture of an alternate World War II.
snarkhunt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nazi mutants vs british wizards during WWII seems goofy - but it works. It's a good story with actual characters and actual costs and character development and internal struggle.Easy to make fun of - hard to believe it's so good. I will be looking for the rest of the series.
esswedl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm usually not a fan of alternate histories, especially WWII alternate histories. However, the sci-fi/magic way in which this book starts to nudge history out of whack is entertaining and creepy. Fits in nicely beside both Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and Naomi Novik's Temeraire series.
TerryWeyna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ian Tregillis takes the notion of an alternate history of World War II to new heights in his first novel, Bitter Seeds. Germany and England combat one another not just on the ground and in weaponry, but also in arcane forces that shape their strategy. Germany has developed psychic powers in certain individuals, power by batteries wired into their brains; the powers vary from individual to individual, but include the ability to become invisible and impervious to weapons; the ability to see the future; and the ability to make external objects explode. On the other hand, the English have an ancient route to the inexplicable: a sort of magic that is really access to an alien race that will perform services in exchange for blood. Neither country really understands the forces with which it is reckoning, but neither cares in their desperate effort to win this all-out war.There is much that is different about this war, and plenty that is the same. Churchill is still England¿s prime minister. France is still invaded and conquered in virtually no time. England still suffers from the Blitz. But there doesn¿t appear to be a preoccupation with a Final Solution in Germany; Dunkirk is a disaster for the English; and German bombing is not confined to London. The unraveling of the war is sudden and even shocking.Bitter Seeds is apparently merely the opening of an epic of a supernatural alternate history. And it is clear that this story is incomplete in many ways. There is a threat in England from the Eidolons ¿ the alien race ¿ that is unresolved in one specific as well as in the genuine overall threat posed by these creatures that are omnipresent but on a different plane, creatures who despise us but agree to help the English only to advance their own ends. The lengths to which England will go to develop this dangerous power is only hinted at in the conclusion to the book, but the way it chooses to use the aliens during the war does not bode well. The German scientific approach to psychic powers also seems open to further development, but again, the cost may be more than anyone is willing to pay. In many ways, this may be one of the most anti-war science fiction novels written since Joe Haldeman¿s The Forever War.The writing is more assured that one would expect of a first-time novelist. The plotting is skeletal, given the complexity of the tale, but it is sufficient; I expect that it will be fleshed out in further novels in the series. My only substantial problem with this book was that the characters seemed more like types than full-fledged people. There is the rich dilettante who proves to be the key to a certain strategy, and bravely comes through, surprising all who know him; the dedicated soldier who will do anything for King and Country; the evil German doctor who experiments on children and cavalierly discards those who do not perform to his satisfaction, a Mengele for the psychic set; and an angelic wife who stands by her husband regardless of his ill-treatment of her, understanding his grief and his commitment to his duty without a thought for herself. I¿d like to see more depth in each of these characters, perhaps something unexpected from one of them now and then. That, too, might come in future novels as Tregillis finds his way through his story.This is a promising first novel, a dark story of a dark time in human history, told with a substantial twist that does not change the basic fact that the twentieth century was a bloody one. I¿m curious about what Tregillis will do to history next, and how ¿ and if ¿ his characters will survive.
Shrike58 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the tale of an alternate Second World War in which the real fight takes place between a pack of damaged children with super powers produced by Nazi mad science versus a cadre of British warlocks capable of invoking the power of aetheric beings; beings that loath Humanity and can only be repaid in blood. The story is less about the course of the war and more about the price exacted by invoking abilities indistinguishable from magic; very bleak reading indeed. It makes the "Laundry" series of Charlie Stross look like a picnic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not aa lot of action. Some passages are difficult to understand. Overall entertaining.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not quite what I was expecting, but still good. I was expecting something a little more action oriented. Which isn't to say that there aren't any action scenes in the book. But it's much more a story of the costs of war and if the ends justify the means than of two unnaturally powered groups of people meeting up on the field of battle and throwing down. Actually, given the rules of the world established in the book, I don't think such a battle would be possible. There's a difference of micro vs. macro power levels here. A Nazi super soldier may have the ability to summon fire or crush a tank with the power of their mind on a moment's notice, where as a British warlock is cutting deals with Lovecraftian style demons to freeze enemy supply lines or sink enemy fleets. It's definitely a darker book than I normally enjoy. It does lose a few points with me for hitting a couple of my personal pet peeves. It sequel baits the reader with the ending, and I feel that it telegraphed a future plot twist so badly that when I eventually get to it my reaction will be less of surprise and more of "about time". But I liked what was here enough that I'll continue with the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gripping story with plenty of interesting characters and action. One of the best parts is that the "super humans" and warlocks have limitations and the use of their powers is very costly. I can't wait to read the sequels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Corry_Lee More than 1 year ago
The prose is lovely; the plot is tense, well-crafted, and page-turning; and I loved to spend time with every character. I sped through this book, hardly able to put it down. The World War II setting feels thoroughly researched and vibrant. The ending was satisfying in its own right, though the authorleft enough balls in the air that I'm eagerly anticipating the sequel. Oh, and what a joy to read a book written by a physicist. Hurray for conservation of momentum!
Paul_Genesse More than 1 year ago
Bitter Seeds is a great novel. I was pulled in right away by the beautiful prose and the compelling storyline. I couldn’t put it down and read it in three days, wishing I had the time to read it in one. It’s an alternate history set during World War II with fascinating characters and gripping action. This book has received a lot of attention by major writers and reviewers, and deservedly so. There are many positive reviews online and I agree that this is an exceptional book. I was so impressed with the way Tregillis unfolded the plot, and revealed the characters, of which there are three whose point of view we get to see. Raybould Marsh is a British spy right in the middle of things; William is a British nobleman who was secretly taught to be a warlock by his slightly insane father; and Klaus is one of the German’s “supermen” with wraith like abilities. All three add a lot to the novel, and there are quite a few other secondary characters that are quite fascinating as well. The most interesting other character is the sister of Klaus, Gretel, who has also been mutated via diabolical processes and now she can predict the future, and warp it to her will. She’s the most powerful of all of the Nazi “supermen,” and is on the cover of both the mass market and hard cover editions for good reason. I wish Tregillis would have let us into her mind, but that would be too telling I’m sure, as she knows what’s going to happen and would ruin the mystery of what is to come. Every chapter was finely crafted, and the big time span gaps between some chapters really added to the coolness of the story. All the chapters have a date on them: month, day and year, which helped a lot. Anyway, this is not a large book, and only spans about 350 pages, but so much was accomplished. It was so impressive how little Tregillis told about what was happening in the actual wider war, but still incorporated a huge story in between the pages, as he focused on the three main characters and their experiences as wider events played around them. They are a huge part of those larger events, but this is not the alternate history of World War II in detail. There are lots of hints, but Tregillis doesn’t go into detail much at all. I would have liked more about how certain battles were going and such, but those issues weren’t the point of the book. Some of the wider war was actually shown in incredibly written interludes from the point of view of flocks of ravens and crows that feast on the dead after major battles. The interludes from the birds point of view were so awesome. Tregillis has a flare for brilliant description, and his ability to be brief, and yet powerful, is amazing. Bitter Seeds is a little bit X-Men, a little bit James Bond, with a core of brilliant darkness that pulls you in page after page. Highly recommended. Paul Genesse Author of the Iron Dragon Series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MacEindhi More than 1 year ago
I was very pleased at the melding of history and fantasy into a believeable alternative history twist. I eagerly await the other volumes to follow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
David Daniel More than 1 year ago
GREAT read, dark story. Wish the book was longer. A good sign for picking up the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting premise. Disappointed in delays on second novel, but it's not the author's fault.