cover image The Coldest War

The Coldest War

Ian Tregillis. Tor, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2151-0

The engrossing second book in Tregillis’s Milkweed Triptych (after Bitter Seeds) takes up years later, in an alternate 1963 in which the warlocks of the British Empire protect the land from the Soviet Union. Secret agent Raybould Marsh and mage Will Beauclerk again find themselves drawn into the conflict, as the plans of the precognitive Gretel—newly escaped from Russia—finally start to come to fruition. Tregillis ably mixes cold war paranoia with his mythology, also nicely expanding characters (particularly Gretel) who had seemed one-dimensional previously. The monstrous, extra-dimensional Eidolons add a genuinely convincing menace that transcends the more banal evil motivations of the political game players, although Gretel’s more complicated motivations really drive the action. A few nice twists keep things interesting, and the cliffhanger ending sets up the concluding volume quite well, though some readers will be frustrated by the lack of resolution. Agent: Kay McCauley, the Pimlico Agency. (July)