Review: The Coldest War
There are two books that I’ve read this year (and I really read my share of books) that I’ve gotten to the end and thought, “WOW!” The first was Daniel Abraham’s excellent THE KING’S BLOOD. THE COLDEST WAR, by Ian Tregillis is the second. The weird thing is they both hail from New Mexico. They seem to be in the same writing group or something down there. You can see each other’s names in the acknowledgment section of their books. Whatever they are doing down there, keep it up.
I remember getting to the end of BITTER SEEDS, the first book in Ian Tregillis’s Milkweed series, and liking it more than I had expected. My thoughts on finishing THE COLDEST WAR? “Holy (bleep)ing (bleep)ity (bleep)ing (bleep)!!!!!! Why isn’t the last book in this series out RIGHT NOW!!” Or something along those lines.
I’ll try and talk about THE COLDEST WAR without spoiling much from the series. It helps that this book takes place years and years after the first one. The characters from BITTER SEEDS have aged and grown in the intervening years. If you’ve read Abraham’s Long Price Quartet think of the time lapse between the books there. The events from the first book have taken their toll on Raybould Marsh leaving him in a loveless marriage while caring for a disabled son. Will is doing well at the beginning of the book but is haunted by demons of his own. Klaus and Gretel are prisoners of the soviets who are trying desperately to find the secret to their power. I could go on, but I don’t want to. I want you to see it for yourself. I want you to see what’s happened to these characters, how they’ve grown.
There were scenes here that were simply stunning. There were cool ideas and wonderful moments backed up with excellent prose. But that’s not what kept me going back for more again and again (sometimes when I really didn’t have the time to read but I just had to read a few pages more anyway). It was the character interaction. It was the way the story wove in and out of various viewpoints and crisscrossed each other. Every time I thought I knew where the story was going, a new twist would be added. Gretel’s character in particular was a favorite. We never get her as a viewpoint character, instead focusing more on her brother Klaus (who was really fascinating to read about as well). Throughout the last book and this one it’s seen that Gretel has a plan for this grand future ahead and every action she takes is helping her get to that foreseen future. Some of the actions appear meaningless and others confusing. I loved reading about her and seeing her scheme her way towards her goal. The ultimate payoff of that work at the end of this book was great. The book tied up well while at the same time leaving me salivating for more.
Sadly this book took a long time to come out. Reading Ian Tregillis’ blog he talks about problems he had getting in touch with his (then) editor and a few years went by before we could get our hands on it. It’s upsetting. You mean I could have read this two years ago? I could already have the last book in the series in my hands? I could be holding it, hugging it and telling my friends what an amazing series this is? Well fine, I’ll do it anyway, but I’m still not happy that I have to wait until April for the last book.
What can I tell you more than I already have? THE COLDEST WAR is a fantastic novel. An incredible one. Hugo worthy. This is a series you need to be reading. This is great, great stuff. I can’t wait for the next one.
Age Recommendation: 16+ nothing especially egregious, just a bit of stuff here and there.
Language: Not a ton, but there.
Violence: A bit. Fascinating and cool, but a bit.
Sex: Mentioned but not shown.
Get the novels here: