The Coldest War: Ian Tregillis continues the Milkweed Triptych

Ian Tregillis's The Coldest War is the long-awaited sequel to his 2010 novel alternate WWII novel Bitter Seeds, a secret history that pitted a mad Nazi scientist who'd made a cadree of twisted, dieselpunk X-Men against the hidden warlocks of the British Isles, men who conferred with ancient, vast forces and traded the blood of innocents for the power to warp time and space.

Coldest War opens in the late 1960s, in which continental Europe has been entirely taken over by the Soviet Union, the UK locked in cold war with it. The Nazi supermen of the first volume were either captured by the Soviets and spirited away to a secret city for reverse-engineering, or they were killed, or they have gone underground in London.

With all the flair he showed in his debut novel, Tregillis continues the tale, bringing to it that same marvellous plotting, immersive sense of place, and above all, wonderful characters. One of the characters introduced in the first novel is a precognitive, and in this volume — which revolves around her long plots — we are shown that the power to see the future is the most corrupting power of them all. Tregillis's oracle is one of the most chilling psychopath villains of literature, a delicious monster who drives the book forward.

As with the earlier volume, I tore through this one in a day and a half. Tregillis is a major new talent in the field, and this is some of the best — and most exciting — alternate history I've read. Bravo.

The Coldest War