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The Coldest War

(Milkweed Triptych #2)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  3,572 ratings  ·  388 reviews
Someone is killing Britain's warlocks.

Twenty-two years after the Second World War, a precarious balance of power maintains the peace between Great Britain and the USSR. For decades, the warlocks have been all that stand between the British Empire and the Soviet Union-- a vast domain stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the shores of the English Channel. But now each death
352 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by Tor (first published January 17th 2012)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,572 ratings  ·  388 reviews

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Start your review of The Coldest War (The Milkweed Triptych, #2)
I'm blown away. Although I read the first book a couple years ago, the story was so urgent and surely written that I hadn't forgotten the questions I'd had at the end of it. This has been a long, slow reveal that really hit in the last few chapters of this book. The feeling of dread is present at all times, a hopelessness increased by the scariest villain I've read in a long time, made even scarier by how she's kept in 3rd person and only viewed through other character's eyes. But! The dread is ...more
Tom Merritt
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The only thing I don't understand is why the Milkweed Triptych doesn't get more attention. No Wikipedia entry. No wild fan sites. This is an outstanding series and I wait with excitement to read the conclusion and have that usual feeling of dread at its concluding and leaving me with no more. Good thing Tregillis is signed to do a new book after the last Milkweed one. Even if it's not in the same universe, I know I'll snap it up.
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Wow, did that seriously just happen?! Those were the words running through my head when I reached the very end of this book. Just when I thought this series couldn't get any crazier with its genre-bending goodness, it decides to throw me for another loop (which in the context of talking about this book is a rather clever pun, now that I think about it. I'm just a little miffed now because I can't explain it without spoiling anything!) The way I see it, as far as those shocking "I-NEED-to-know-wh ...more
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: warlocks, seers, ex-Nazi supersoldiers
Warning: This review contains spoilers for book one, Bitter Seeds.

This is one epic, high-stakes alt-history series. After reading Bitter Seeds, I thought book two would pick up where book one left off, at a turning point in World War II. Instead, it skips forward two decades and we're now in 1963 and the height of the Cold War.

But it's a very different Cold War. In Bitter Seeds, Britain unleashed the power of the Eidolons, vastly powerful demonic beings who live in the cracks in time and space,
The story is getting more impressive. We're moving away from traditional hero types and we're getting a lot more flip-sides. Sure, we've scooted a couple of decades into the future and everyone has gotten a little flabby, but what can you expect in an upside-down world where England is pretty darn evil, the Soviet Union saved the day from the Nazis, and Cthulhu is knock knock knockin on heaven's door. I've still got that image of Greta with pigtails, and she's just as charming and as odd as ever ...more
... I loved this book. There really isn’t anything more than that to say. It’s a wonderful installment in a brilliant trilogy and I’m anxiously waiting for the third book. Here’s the bottom line: If you haven’t read the Milkweed Triptych yet, you need to. The Coldest War isn’t just a book it’s an experience.

Read my full review here:
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing

Even better than the first book! Smarter, faster, more complex. More cliff-hanging. Can't wait for book three.
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Zedsdead by: Tim
Book 2 of the Milkweed Triptych, and holy hot damn, what a follow-up. Twenty-odd years have passed since the (alternate) end of WWII. Marsh endures the tortured wreck of a marriage. Will has a wonderful wife who dragged him back from the brink of self-destruction. Klaus has spent two decades as prisoner/consultant of the Soviet empire. And Gretel continues to spin her sadistic and impenetrable web around all three of them.

The middle book of the trilogy reads like a spy-adventure novel. Marsh and
Paul Genesse
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Review of The Coldest War, (Book two in the Milkweek Tryptich) by Ian Tregillis

(No big spoilers, except for a few minor ones that regard the set-up)

I just finished The Coldest War, book two of three in the Milkweed Tryptich cycle by Ian Tregillis. I devoured it.

I read book one, Bitter Seeds (now out in mass market paperback by the way) in about three days and the same applies to book two. I would have read faster if I’d had the time.

I'm so blown away right now from finishing this fantastic novel
Richard Guion
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Coldest War takes place in 1963, almost twenty years past the aftermath of World War II. Due to the events of the first book, the world map has changed considerably. The Soviets control all of Europe, but the United States isn't a world power, which leaves it to the British to foil the Reds with covert spy operations. The Cold War is played out in this alternate universe, but with super-men controlled by the Reds and magic wielding sorcerers on the side of the UK.

The novel picks up on the surviv
If I could give this ten stars, I would. Awesome!! Kept me up all night reading it! More later...


I find keeping up with current trilogies difficult. When I am waiting years between books, I can forget many of the details, and while I retained the general plot and admiration of Bitter Seeds, I forgot many of the details. When I began The Coldest War, I was really confused, as I couldn't figure out if I missed a huge chunk of the book or what, because Tregillis brings the reader in with th
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When a colleague introduced me to the series, he said that the second book was what really sold it to him and he couldn't wait to read the third one. After reading the first book in the series, I was skeptical about that statement. Surely, Mr. Tregillis couldn't make the story more interesting. Alas, I was wrong. The character development, the plot twists, the everything. Just, wow. Certainly one of the best books I've read this year.
This book continues several years after the first book of the trilogy "Bitter Seeds" ended. The second world war was won but then a new threat in the form of Communist Russia evolves. This leads to the 'cold war' period of history. The British continue to fight using magic, although in much more subdued way that in the first book. Some former foes are now on their side too.

I enjoyed the majority of this book quite a bit more than the first one. It was a real page turner right up to the end. But,
Paul Nelson
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-books-read
The Coldest War is the follow up to Ian Tregillis's debut alternate history come fantasy war drama Bitter Seeds and the Milkweed trilogy will conclude with the third novel Necessary Evil.
The series is an original take on the events and the aftermath of the World War II period of history and Britain's fight against Germany and Russia.

Set over 20 years after the events in Bitter Seeds, Europe is a vastly different place, Russia is the controlling entity and an uneasy truce remains in place.
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
Following Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War, is the second installment of the Milkweed Tryptich, which focuses on an alternative history of WW II by virtue of paranormal intervention. This second installment nicely ties into the first, with a set-up for the third part which I found very intriguing. I’m about to dive into that one next.

The Coldest War takes us back to the characters of the previous installments, but it’s set some twenty odd years later. The main characters are largely the same, but s
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, sf
I really liked the concept for Bitter Seeds (first in the series), but was slightly disappointed in its execution. Granted, it can't be easy to fully develop the idea of super-powered nazis versus British warlocks while still firmly grounding it in 1940s Europe. The sequel more than makes up for it though. The Coldest War actually meets and exceeds the high hopes I'd had for Bitter Seeds.

Normally I hate the idea of precognition, but the concept of a precognitive sociopath is too intriguing to p
Kate O'Hanlon
Now this is how you write the second book in a trilogy. No wheel spinning here, no siree.

Set 20 years after the events of Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War opens with one of my favourite spec-fic themes, what happens to the heroes after the great battle. I found Marsh stuffy, priggish and reckless in the first novel, so I was sort of psyched to see that things had gone to shit for him and turned out pretty well for Will. Of course it all got a little more complicated than that as the story unfolded.
Madara Bruģe
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Akjel, akjel.
Small Creek
Apr 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
Don't know if I can ever finish this.
Thomas Stacey
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars rounded up to 5 because of that ending.

This was a huge step up from 'Bitter Seeds'. The amount of payoff from the events of the first book, even things I didn't even realise were being foreshadowed, was astounding. Bitter Seeds indeed! Damn you Gretel!

Most of the surviving characters return and nearly all of them are worse for wear. It's fascinating to see how the experiences of the first book have shaped them in almost unrecognisable ways. Friends become enemies and enemies become a
20 years have passed, for some in captivity of failed family life, for some in poverty, for some in getting sober, and for some in actual captivity. Superhumans are in Soviet's hands now, and the Britain has grown complacent. In the middle of it all, precog Gretel waits and plans. For what?

These books are quickly becoming one of my all-time favorites. Sound characterization, interesting ideas, plot that actually makes sense, and has a sense of urgency. It's not perfect, mind, the characters are
Very good, indeed, although I prefer the context of the first book back in the WW2. The way the characters have developed in the timelapse between both stories is astonishing. Prepare yourselves to see how powerful Gretel really is.

Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Ian Tregillis’ Bitter Seeds was one of if not my absolute favorite debut of 2010. After several major missteps by the publisher (well documented on the author’s blog) the second novel of the Milkweed Triptych, The Coldest War, is set for release later this year. In a bizarre experiment the decision was made to release the audiobook first via the fine folks at For those needing a refresher Bitter Seeds was an alternate history novel that rewrites World War II pitting the products of ...more
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Forget stars. This rates 10 fireballs and not a dud among them.

This is the second book in the Milkweed Triptych and while I strive to avoid spoilers, I am not immune to inadvertent slips. The standard warning applies: do not read this review if you have yet to read book one (Bitter Seeds).

In 'The Coldest War', we are reunited with Raybould Marsh some twenty years after the events in 'Bitter Seeds'. Marsh is a shadow of his former self, ground down by the tragedies in his life since he left His M
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it

Full Review originally at Fantasy Book Critic

Overall review = 4 & 1/2 stars.

Analysis: The Coldest War is the sequel to Ian Tregillis’s brilliant debut Bitter Seeds, this book opens up nearly twenty years after the events of the second world war that took place in this alternate historical world. I was very much intrigued by this book and dove in based on Liviu’s excellent review of the first book.

The story begins in 1963 and we are introduced to a Europe wherein a cold war is on but the payer
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
After WWII was fought by Nazi supermen and British warlocks, we bounce forward to the 60s in which everyone's lives are ruined. But that doesn't mean a certain precog doesn't still have a plan...
Melissa McShane
This book begins twenty years after the end of Bitter Seeds, which was something of a surprise to me--I'd sort of expected it to pick right up from where that one ended. But the time jump makes a lot of other things possible, both in advancing the plot and in creating a different kind of tension. Twenty years down the road, in the alternate future that develops from the psychic experiments of the Reichsbehoerde and the English warlocks' tampering with evil cosmic forces, Russia has become a worl ...more
Laura Hughes
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was persuaded to read the first Milkweed novel, Bitter Seeds, last year, and although I found it a decent read it left me sceptical as to where exactly this trilogy was headed. After finishing The Coldest War I can hardly wait to find out.

Set in 1963, The Coldest War takes place in the same alternate history as Bitter Seeds. The main events occur almost twenty years after the first book; the Soviets are now on the verge of winning the Cold War, having made use of the devastating Nazi scientifi
Ulmer Ian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
It seems that the inevitable outcome of British warlocks fighting Nazi supermen is that eventually there will be Soviet supermen who are building up as part of an alternate universe sort of Cold War, one where it's all up to the British because America, never entering the war, never came out of the Great Depression, etc.

Twenty-some years after the first book in the trilogy, life sucks for everybody as a consequence of the first book. It's something of a jarring time-skip between books, somewhat
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Other books in the series

Milkweed Triptych (3 books)
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  • Necessary Evil (Milkweed Triptych, #3)

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