Necessary Evil - a triumphant end to the Milkweed Triptych where Nazi X-Men fight English warlocks

With Necessary Evil, published today, Ian Tregillis triumphantly concludes his astonishing, brilliant, pulse-pounding debut trilogy, The Milkweed Triptych. Milkweed began in 2010 with Bitter Seeds, an alternate history WWII novel about a Nazi doctor who creates a race of twisted X-Men through a program of brutal experimentation; and of the British counter-strategy: calling up the British warlocks and paying the blood-price to the lurking elder gods who would change the very laws of physics in exchange for the blood of innocents. These elder gods, the Eidolons, hate humanity and wish to annihilate us, but we are so puny that they can only perceive us when we bleed for them. With each conjuration of the Eidolons on Britain's behalf, the warlocks bring closer the day when the Eidolons will break through and wipe humanity's stain off the universe.

Book two, The Coldest War, came out last summer -- a too-long hiatus! -- and jumped forward to the 1960s, where the struggle continued in a Europe divided among the Soviets -- who seized the Nazi technology at the end of the war and used it to breed their own supermen -- and the British, whose warlock reserves have become an everyday instrument of foreign policy. Coldest War was half James Bond, half Cthulhu, and was every bit as painstakingly researched, beautifully described, blisterlingly plotted and utterly engrossing as the first.

Now, with book three, Necessary Evil, Tregillis draws the series to a close with a time travel story that goes back to the beginning of the tale, a desperate mission to stop the use of magick and the use of the Nazi "Will to Power" from ever gaining hold, to keep the elder gods at bay. And in Evil, Tregillis is even more on form. This is a book that veers precipitously from unexpected and chilling ruminations on the inherent evil of precognition; to the questions of loyalty and betrayal so thorny that they need a time-travel loop to really be explored; to spy-thriller action sequences that will keep you up under the covers with a flashlight, turning pages and unable to sleep.

This is a remarkable set of books, and with all three in hand, would make a fabulous spring read.

Necessary Evil

It's also out in the UK.


  1. I loved the first one, couldn’t get away with the second, and gave up part-way through. Maybe I’ll try again.

    1. it’s worth getting through – the ending, and prelude to the third novel, makes it worthwhile.  

      1.  Ha, yes, they have some rotten covers – but, they’re all painted and “on brand” from what I saw.

        This one above is a bad photo-shopped onto what… a school desk? The typography, with it’s degraded typeface and drop-shadows is lipstick they give out at Halloween – on a pig.

        Not to judge the book, mind you. It’s probably awesome. I’ll  have to go buy it and read it now because I’ve been so mean to the cover – I should make up for that somehow.

        1. I was moved to post precisely because of the shockingly poor quality of the cover. The release cover of Bitter Seeds was gorgeous – creepy, ironic, sexy – and now we get this humorless schlock.  Grrrr.  The UK cover is slightly better – it only looks like a video game ad and not a self-published zombie time travel romance novel. 

        2. I just finished “Coldest War” last night (or this morning? It was circa midnight), and I liked the cover. One guy, a building in the background, and then noise and a scraped background. I don’t remember the type treatment (which could have been poor, but not awful enough for me to notice).

          I thought it was appropriate for all of the murky ethics.

  2. Sounds good. I picked up the first one and have held off reading it until the next two came out. I like reading trilogies one after the other, so this looks like I’m in for a treat. :)

  3. i absolutely loved the first two books, and i can’t wait to read this one. i also found charles stross’s Laundry novels by association (after reading Ian Tregillis’s blog), and they’re very good as well.  Tregillis will be in SF this weekend for a book signing and talk, for those of you in the area.

  4. Really wasn’t expecting this so soon after the last one, and was delighted to see the receipt in my email.

    I’m currently re-reading The Saga of the Pliocene Exiles for the first time in 20 years, and plan on going straight on to Intervention and The Milieu Trilogy immediately after, but this is a wonderful thing to have waiting for me once that marathon read is over.

    I’d post my ruminations on re-reading a classic series with such a long gap in-between, but I really don’t want to take away from Mr. Tregillis’ moment.

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