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Summary

It's 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between. Raybould Marsh is a British secret agent in the early days of the Second World War, haunted by something strange he saw on a mission during the Spanish Civil War: a German woman with wires going into her head who looked at him as if she knew him.

When the Nazis start running missions with people who have unnatural abilities - a woman who can turn invisible, a man who can walk through walls, and the woman Marsh saw in Spain who can use her knowledge of the future to twist the present - Marsh is the man who has to face them. He rallies the secret warlocks of Britain to hold the impending invasion at bay. But magic always exacts a price. Eventually, the sacrifice necessary to defeat the enemy will be as terrible as outright loss would be. Alan Furst meets Alan Moore in the opening of an epic of supernatural alternate history, the tale of a twentieth century like ours and also profoundly different.

©2010 Ian Tregillis (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"A major talent.... I can't wait to see more." (George R.R. Martin)
"Tregillis writes and plots beautifully. The characters - twisted German psychics, bitter warlocks, the brutal calculators of the British intelligence apparat - are complex, textured, surprising. The physical descriptions are wonderful. And the plot is relentless, a driving adventure story with intrigue, battle, sacrifice, and betrayal." (BoingBoing)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good story, not so good narration

It is, as the critics' reviews say, a good story that kept me listening... it also kept me grinding my teeth at the narrator's poor grasp of accents. Lorimer, a Scot (who, thankfully, has little to say in the book) does not have a Scottish accent, rather, he has a wandering Irish/North Country hybrid accent that left me wincing. The Germans all speak with preposterous mock German accents and Olivia, wife of Marsh, is voiced with a strange received English plus occasional hints of Mockney even though she is described as having a common accent.
If you can ignore all this (and I did, after a struggle) then it's a good audible book.
Narrators really should be discouraged from giving accents to characters unless they know how to do them properly.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • George
  • United Kingdom
  • 07-01-13

Story is ok - narration is painful

I can only agree with the other reviewers.



Why on earth, when a book is set entirely in Germany and England, would they choose an American to narrate it? He simply cannot do the accents!



Not only is this painful on the ear at times, but also, when involving converstaion between two of the main male characters, it becomes impossible to tell who is supposed to be speaking, because the accents vary so much.



The plot is interesting and the story well told - with the exception that the Author does tend to get over impressed with his own eloquence when describing the esoteric. His descriptions of the awe-inspiringness of his super-natural beings do tend to drag.



All in all, I shall probably get the sequel – but I will wish that someone else was reading it.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Eva B
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 12-03-12

Good story, but hard to bear the narration

I downloaded this because someone on a podcast I enjoy recommended the sequel. The concept of this book is interesting and I like that it's not your usual black-and-white WW2 story; everybody's doing horrible things, for different reasons.

But I have to agree with previous comments, and comments on the sequel, that the narration is just not good. Never mind the atrocious accents (the German ones are downright offensive), it's as if the narrator isn't able to "read ahead" to make sure he pronounces a sentence so that the full stop is actually at the end of it, and not somewhere in the middle. "Marsh opened the gate. To the garden." It is absolutely annoying. Unfortunately, I am now committed to listening to part 2 as well, but I probably won't enjoy it very much!

Recording these is probably quite expensive, so I am guessing the chances of giving this one a do-over are fairly slim.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Phelix_da_Kat
  • 29-08-10

WW II alternate history: X-men vs Warlocks

One of my first alternative history (audible) books. Saw this in hardback, was waiting for the paperback - but to my surprise (even better) it's on Audible!

Basically, the British are losing the war - the US did not join in the war and the Germans have created the ??bermensch (Superman/women) - sociopathic orphans taken from WW I, and endowed with X-menesque power by mad scientists.

In response, a desperate Admiralty establish the Milkweed organisation - British warlocks that use magic to fight back.

I believe this is Tregillis' first novel - stunning piece of work and fortunately there's more to come as this is the first book of the Milkweed Triptych (trilogy).

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • M. Spencer
  • 21-10-12

WWII, Now With Superheroes and Wizards

First off, I feel inclined to note that I gave the novel 3 stars, but I really wanted to give it 3.5 stars. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to others, but I just didn’t love it.

I decided to listen to this after hearing rave reviews from Tom and Veronica on the Sword and Laser podcast. They really talked it up and it had a pretty interesting premise so it felt like a no-brainer. To give a little background, Bitter Seeds is an alternate history set in Europe during World War II. In this retelling however, the British employ warlocks and the Germans basically have soldiers with superpowers.

Overall, I did enjoy it, but it definitely left something to be desired. The story wasn’t bad nor were the characters, but they also weren’t amazing. I never felt that invested in the characters (on either side). They were realistic enough, but were just somewhat flat. It’s hard to describe, because they weren’t poorly written or unlikeable…they were just kind of bland.

My biggest gripe with the story was the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say the climax fell short. I wanted big explosions and high excitement–it seemed like that’s where things were going–but that’s not how it played out and I was a little underwhelmed.

My only other comment is about the narrator, Kevin Pariseau. Mr. Pariseau has narrated a lot of novels and I expect that he’s pretty well respected, but he just didn’t feel like a great fit to me. Most of the novel takes place it the UK and it just stands to reason that a British narrator would have been selected. The accents of the characters would have been a bit more convincing and I think it would have increased my enjoyment.

That said, it was a pretty fun read. It’s not very long either so it’s no major investment.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Peter
  • 13-04-13

Not what I expected, but still worth the listen.

Would you listen to Bitter Seeds again? Why?

I don't think I would listen to Bitter Seeds for a long while. I was expecting a golden age/pulp hero type of setting with super powers and magic based on the summary. Instead it was a horror story, and a darn good one.

Would you be willing to try another book from Ian Tregillis? Why or why not?

Yes, the end of the first novel is a cliff hanger; however, I need some more lighthearted fair before diving back into the next novel.

Which scene was your favorite?

I don't have a particularly favorite scene, however, Ian Tregillis did a great job of bring the story right to the brink of being too gruesome or callous (in terms of the "reality" of war and the supernatural) without crossing over, but not going into actual details so my imagination took over many times through out the story.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

What price for victory?

Any additional comments?

Kevin Pariseau did a good job of bringing the different characters to life, it was easy to tell which character was speaking.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Michael Sanchez
  • 07-06-12

very intriguing

Would you listen to Bitter Seeds again? Why?

The story is complex, and may require more than one listen, many story lines are woven into one all-encompassing plot line.

What did you like best about this story?

The concept: it's fascinating. Considering that Hitler was such a fan of the occult and science...this story fits very well into the 'what if' scenario for the SS and what Hitler could have / might have done if he'd had the chance.

Which scene was your favorite?

The description of the Taragon Film; where all the battery charged students are displaying their abilities.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me think hard about what levels of technology we have today versus what was cutting edge in 1940-41...if this is 'what might have been' then what are we headed towards today?

Any additional comments?

If you're not a fan of the WWII genre or steampunk, or accustomed to hearing German spoken/written, then you may have a hard time understanding sections of this book. However, don't pass up a great tale just because you may not know the language. Tregillis has woven a fascinating tale.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Leanna
  • 14-07-12

An ingenious and intuitive reinvention of WW II

'Bitter Seeds??? takes us to an alternative World War II in which the Allied forces are developing demon weapons and defenses, and the Axis Forces are developing paranormal weapons and defenses. While this type of arms race is not new in literature, Ian Tregillis??? version reads more like a thrilling history book than fiction. Tregillis really has done his homework, and this story has the gravity and intrigue found in the real-life arms race to create an atomic bomb. This is an amazing book that captures the excitement and dread of an era that still shapes our view of the world today. I highly recommend it.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Jay Posephney
  • 20-02-17

Ian Tregillis has written some great stories but

I have loved everything I have read so far from Tregillis, until this book. I couldn't make it through the entire book... the performance was horrible, the story dragged, the characters were shallow. The accents were atrocious. The Germans sounded like a borderline inappropriate children's story. I am so disappointed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Adam
  • 07-01-15

Yawn

Garbage story, unimaginative sci-fi elements, and trope plots. Doesn't develop anything worth caring about. Pass. Fantastic performance by the narrator though. Truly that was remarkable.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jason
  • 04-12-14

Dark but Excellent Book

This historical fantasy takes place during World War 2, with a mystical twist. Tregellis doesn't pull any punches, taking the book and many of its characters to dark places. The war is horrible and we find that even good people can do horrible things amidst so much suffering. I'm looking forward to listening to the rest of the series.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Molly
  • 30-08-13

Disturbing, incomplete

This book is disturbing, and incomplete. I get that it is supposed to be a series, but it should at least offer a full story. And the unnecessary brutality toward children and human kind in general is simply disturbing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • A. Hogue
  • 05-02-13

Ubermen, Warlocks, WWII and Spy's? Yes, please!

I've been eyeing this title for a while and finally went for it based on other reviews. Omg, such a good book and so well narrated. I purchased the next book before I was done with this book.
Intriguing look at history, and people in general. You see the decisions everyone makes and the consequences they have to live with and it changes them. Plus, the whole take on warlocks is fascinating, their language and how they negotiate.
All around solid writing, characters , plot, and ideas. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait to dive into the next one.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful