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Bitter Seeds (The Milkweed Triptych, #1)
This topic is about Bitter Seeds
2010 Reads > BS: *Spoilers* Final thoughts?

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Contrast | 6 comments I loved this book, 4.5 out of 5 stars. I generally don't read very quickly and I think this is the fastest I have read a book. It was more like watching a movie for me then reading a book.

I am looking forward to the squeal. What would you all rate it?

message 2: by Veronica, Supreme Sword (new) - rated it 5 stars

Veronica Belmont (veronicabelmont) | 1646 comments Mod
I gave Bitter Seeds 5 stars in my review. I thought it was smart, the characters were well-developed (IMO), and I'm really looking forward to the (assumed?) sequel. This is one of my favorite book club picks so far.

Paul (PaulCavanaugh) | 51 comments I gave it 4 stars -- but really it should have 4.5. The characters are very well drawn and I ended up thinking about the choices each had made long after I finished the book. And he keeps the plot zipping along, too!
If there were a sequel I would read it **but** (and I don't disagree with you two), I think where the book ends is wonderfully suggestive without Tregillis filling in all the blanks. I know what I think should happen next -- what if does a sequel but he's wrong?
And hey, what a great ending when Gretel says "Incoming."
An excellent read which I wouldn't have tried without S&L.

message 4: by Aeryn98 (new)

Aeryn98 | 175 comments Ok, there better be a sequel. I raced through this book in a couple of days (just finished it now). A big reason was to find out Gretel's motives, but.... ugh! Left in the dust. And another big question..who was the phantom? The more I think of it, the more questions I have.
I can see the sequel moving on into a Cold War situation with a new group of Soviet "super-children", but hopefully answering the 1st books questions as well.
Otherwise, I really did enjoy the book and its characters. Its no Harry Potter magic. The price in Tregillis' world for power is a whole lot of pain.

Will (w13rdo) | 37 comments The "phantom" was Liv and Marsh's baby, deformed, "without a soul" and after having been subjected to Soviet experiments under the direction of Gretel. Having both the superpowers and negotiation skills, he is able to travel through space and time, thus becoming the only person that can save humanity from the horrible destruction Gretel has foreseen occurring due to the path the world powers have taken.

That's my speculation on the matter. I'm giving it 5 stars, because it's the first book since Daemon/Freedom that I've been compelled to read front to back in a sitting, and I appreciate that.

terpkristin | 4031 comments I gave it 2 stars. The following is my review...

This book did not live up to the hype for me. I can't say I didn't like it, exactly, but I sure as hell didn't like it, either. Of my reading group, I seem to be in the minority, which is OK. I think there were a few things working against this book (one item which was unique to me, I'm sure).

1) I personally am not interested in any of the "recent" wars (anything after the US Civil War qualifies as recent in my book), and I strongly prefer stories of OLD wars (mideval times). So I started off on a "bad" foot, not really wanting to read about World War II.

2) I feel like the characters were not well developed. I got no impression why they did many (most) of the things they did. There was definitely some back story missing, which leads me to my third thought...

3) I think he intends to follow this book up with another. He left way too much open at the end, and maybe he intends to go over some of the back story then. This is absolutely unacceptable in my book, even if a book is in a series, it should be a good story on its own, and in my opinion, this wasn't.

At least I didn't spend much money on the book, since I got it on the Kindle

terpkristin | 4031 comments Well, my above response was my first impression, without giving it anytime to sit.

I'm not changing the 2 stars I gave it, but I think that if it had ended more...satisfactorally, I'd have rated it a 3, or maybe a 4.

I liked the characters, and in the middle of the book, I was really digging it. I liked the blurred lines of good and evil, and the moral decisions, especially those that put "some" in danger to benefit the rest of the population. But the ending threw it back down to 2 category.

message 8: by Steve (last edited May 24, 2010 01:33PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Steve | 34 comments I gave it a four. But star systems always leave you making compromises and it was probably a 3.5 for me. It's a plot focussed book and really rolls through scenes it sets up, but I don't feel like it gave me a lot to think about. The characters were fairly well-done from a plot perspective (a good ensemble with well defined roles), but these aren't characters that stick with me. Rather they seem to be tools the author has hauled out of his kit to advance a rollicking story. And the story, from a "what happens next" perspective, is great. Demons, secret agents, tormented characters, x-men and drug addicted, terrorist warlocks. Everything but the kitchen sink is tossed on stage and in retrospect it seems pretty remarkable that all that was trotted out into the footlights without something falling into the orchestra pit. But Tregellis pulled it off.

So all in I would say it is really entertaining and ultimately a little shallow but I would totally recommend it, because who doesn't want to indulge in some pure entertainment now and then?

message 9: by Ben (last edited May 24, 2010 05:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben | 116 comments Great book. I think my favorite so far for Sword and Laser. I liked the Lovecraftian vibe (It's science fiction, no magic! A laser for sure.). I'm always a big fan of the incomprehensible, sanity-destroying unknown lurking just beyond human comprehension.

Good news if you liked it: it is the first book of a planned trilogy.

If you poke around on his website, the author seems to be pretty interesting and is evidently a protege of George R.R. Martin. He also seems to be a "science advisor" for Martin's science fiction.

Brad Theado | 217 comments When i first read this book, I thought, "ok, its good." I was intrigued by the question of what role good and evil played in the book. Then as I started to think about it in terms of things to discuss, I realized that there wasn't a lot of meat to this book. Beyond the initial discussion, the overall discussion of the book fell kind of flat.

Why is that? For me, it was because the book really wasn't as good as my initial impression. My standard for a book being "good, or even great" is would I want to read it again and if I did, would I get something new out of it. My impression now: I have no desire to ever read this book again. While it wasn't outright bad, it wasn't something that would compel me to save room on my small bookshelf for future consideration. read and toss, that's my overall analysis.

message 11: by Aeryn98 (new)

Aeryn98 | 175 comments William wrote: "The "phantom" was Liv and Marsh's baby, ..."

Wow. That's some interesting speculation. I guessed that the soulless child would be Marsh's, but not that it was the phantom. Something else to look forward to finding out in the next book.

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

I think that the first 70 pages or so of the book were really slow and didn't really capture my interest. It wasn't so bad that I didn't want to continue, but I found the earliest bits the hardest to get through. After that, though, I feel like it really got rolling and exciting. I love the characters, especially Marsh, who I think is one of the most memorable and well-developed characters I've read in a while. I gave it 4/5.

message 13: by Jay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jay Crossler (jaycrossler) | 26 comments I really enjoyed it... In the George R. R. Martin macabre sense of the word. The author seemed to do a great job of really capturing the conversation/thought patterns of both Germans and British - I've spent a lot of time in both places and it felt true.

Gretel's plans were very intriguing - i've been wondering about them ever since the first time when Klaus comes to save her and she says "it'll work!". I also like te good/bad blurly line that the major characters walked.

It made me truly feel for those British and American code breakers during the war from Blechley Park - they had broken the German codes, and knew where every attack would be. But if they revealed that knowledge, they'd lose the advantage. Instead, they had to sit back and consign their countrymen to their deaths (slowly pay a blood price on their ability) until they could deliver the final victory blows. It's a hard mental calculous of war, and pulls into question many ethical issues.

Louis (osiramon) | 60 comments I gave this book a four stars. The basic plot and writing is really good. I like how the British made assumptions that they later find is not true. This is good story telling and is rather close to what often happens given unsupported assumptions. We are all human.

I understand that Gretchen is playing the game for her needs. The question still remains what is up for the next book. What the the phantom will do is to be determined.

message 15: by Skip (new) - rated it 3 stars

Skip | 516 comments I liked the book, but I think it missed some opportunities to be great. It read like a Ludlum novel, very good action but lacking in character development.

Will's slip in and out of substance abuse is much too pat, though understandable. I'd liked to have seen a little more self reflection.

Marsh comes off as paper thin sometimes. I was going to scream if I read another coiled spring analogy about him. He gets named by the Eidonolons, a name no one can translate, but shows no interest in it? Again, I can attribute reasons for his actions in most cases, but I like to see at least some of the thought process in the actual text.

Stephenson is also an issue for me. His POV early in the book shows him taking an interest in Marsh out of paternalism, but in his later treatment of Marsh makes him seem more like Dr. von Westarp. He crafted Marsh to be Archie to his Nero Wolfe. Maybe I read too much intelligence and empathy into him, but he doesn't make for the best "Victory at any Cost" archetype.

Klaus is the character we really see develop. It is the job that Mr. Tregillis does with Klaus that makes me wish we saw more of the same out of Will and Marsh. The POVs for him were felt natural, where Will or Marsh's POV moments seemed like plot waypoints.

Gretel isn’t someone I expect character development, she is more the MacGuffin to drive the plot than a character.

That said, I liked the setting, I liked the plot, and I will read the next book when it comes out. I did find the Epilogue to be too much, but that is a personal preference. I don’t like cliffhangers generally and this one seemed to set the hooks for the next book almost crudely.

message 16: by Curt (new)

Curt Taylor (meegeek) | 107 comments I know, late post, but I was hesitant to begin this book and was wrapped up in another (The Name of the Wind). I just could not get into this book. Well written, interesting story, etc. etc., but if you look at my book list you may understand. I have just read too much history on WW2 (and continue to do so)to really get into this book. The real stories are just too compelling. I kind of thought this started as an alternative history but it really let me down there. There was just not enough of a premise to build on. There were just too many unwritten assumptions to make the time line work. 2 out of 5, at best.

Matthew Laberge (Matthew_LaBerge) | 16 comments I just finished with the book and am stunned with the ending... I'm glad to hear that there will be a trilogy, hopefully answering all of my open questions. The charachters are well developed and still leave a few questions left to be answered.

Overal I really, really, realy loved this book!

Missy (booksofmissy) | 14 comments Williams speculation about the phantom as the Marsh baby made me like this book a lot more. (thank you William)
I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars, for writing style and original working of the alternate history. I really had an easy time getting into it and recommended it to almost all of my sci-fi reading friends and family. I think now that I would withdraw that recommendation for some of them.
The major drawback for me was that this book like a few recent Sword and Laser picks seems a little too much like horror and somewhat too little like Sword or Laser.
In the intrest of full disclosure I have recently had a baby and the poor use of children and infants was really killing me by the end.

Taueret | 58 comments I really enjoyed this book, thanks for the recommendation, which I would have not known about otherwise. I think I can link to my review on goodreads...hopefully that will work.

message 20: by Mike (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike Rentas (mikerentas) | 65 comments I wasn't in love as I was reading it, but about a week after the fact, I'm still thinking about the plot and the world. Very intriguing stuff. I wish the characters had been more interesting, but after listening to the S&L interview with the author, it sounds like this book was basically all preamble to the story he really wants to tell. I'll be picking up the next one.

message 21: by Obxboy (last edited Jun 26, 2010 09:52AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Obxboy | 8 comments I, like Mike, was not in love with the book at the outset. By the finish, I was sorry I had started it...without having the next two books to continue the story!! I have been recommending Bitter Seeds to all my 'reader' friends, especially my son. Can't wait to see what the Soviets do with their prizes and what Gretel does in general. Is there any doubt of where the soul of the unborn child will come from to satisfy the Eidolons?

Obxboy | 8 comments Skip wrote: "I liked the book, but I think it missed some opportunities to be great. It read like a Ludlum novel, very good action but lacking in character development.

Will's slip in and out of substance a..."

Agreed on Will's break from addiction. I think that is a device we will see come up again. I had no problem with Marsh. I think Stephenson will realize his error and bring him back and his relationship with the Eidolons (the naming) seems like something that is going to be held till the resolution of the entire story.

message 23: by Curt (new)

Curt Taylor (meegeek) | 107 comments I finally got caught up on the S&L Podcasts and after hearing Tregellis have changed my opinion a bit. Give it another star, but there seemed to be something lacking, some hole in the story, that I can't explain. I am glad the author did his research, but at the end of the day, without some kind of supernatural assistance, England would have folded like a cheap suit if they had lost all at Dunkirk or lost their radar and air superiority in the Battle of Britain. That, to me at least, is the one thin support that holds up the entire premise. Will be interested in reading the next in the series, as the timeline moves into the cold war. This is where a alternative history will be interesting. Remember, the Germans are beat a couple of years earlier in the book and the US is not engaged. Therefore no Manhattan Project? The author is a physicist at Los Alamos, so this has got to have an influence.

message 24: by Noel (new)

Noel Baker | 364 comments Curt wrote: "I finally got caught up on the S&L Podcasts and after hearing Tregellis have changed my opinion a bit. Give it another star, but there seemed to be something lacking, some hole in the story, that I..."

Curt also wrote "England would have folded like a cheap suit if they had lost all at Dunkirk or lost their radar and air superiority in the Battle of Britain,"
Don't agree Curt. Even if we'd lost more men at Dunkirk, the BEF was not the be all and end all of the war effort. There were a lot more variables at play not least of which was a total dominance of all sea areas by the Royal Navy which was still then the most powerful in the world. It sounds typical of the yanks to say such a disparaging thing when they were sitting safely on their prosperous butts, not deigning to join the fight against fascism until they were forced to.

message 25: by Curt (new)

Curt Taylor (meegeek) | 107 comments Noel wrote: "Curt wrote: "I finally got caught up on the S&L Podcasts and after hearing Tregellis have changed my opinion a bit. Give it another star, but there seemed to be something lacking, some hole in the ..."

Noel, my apologies, not meaning to be disparaging. Was really questioning the premise that the author had and carrying it forward. Without supernatural intervention, the German invasion fleet would have made a landing. Without the BEF or air superiority, that invasion could have, at the least, established a beachhead. Then what? The potential paths start to fork in too many directions. I am also not a big fan of the Roosevelt administration, in general, although a case could be made that FDR was looking for any legitimate excuse to enter the war, prior to Pearl Harbor. You are right, the US did not do near enough to intervene before it almost became to late. I would not say we were very prosperous though, as in '39 we were just coming out of a recession, after going through the Great Depression earlier in the decade. But once the switch got thrown, economically speaking, the scale of the war production was hard to believe, even using today's standards. We ultimately benefited from this at the close of the war. Once again, my comments were not to slight or minimize the English contribution in WW2.

message 26: by Noel (new)

Noel Baker | 364 comments Curt wrote: "Noel wrote: "Curt wrote: "I finally got caught up on the S&L Podcasts and after hearing Tregellis have changed my opinion a bit. Give it another star, but there seemed to be something lacking, some..."

Thanks Curt, I was a little too sensitive there I think. I think the view that says Roosevelt was looking for an excuse to enter the war is right and of course you are right in acknowledging just how vital the USA's industrial might was. I fully appreciate the the war would not have been won without it. It is fascinating to speculate what would have happened if things had happened differently at different points of the war.

Scott (smrathburn) | 36 comments I was really disappointed by the ending. I liked the development of the characters, but the ending seemed to have been tacked on. I was reading on a kindle and thought the end of the book didn't get downloaded. I hope the remaining loose ends get closed in another book, but this should have been closed in one book. Not every story needs to be a three part trilogy.

message 28: by Andy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Andy Runton | 19 comments Being a fan of the book I'm anxious for the next in the series... Tom and Veronica mentioned it would be out Dec. 20th, but Audible doesn't seem to have it yet. Despite Ian's website being amazing visually, I couldn't find much in the way of news.

Anybody have any ideas?

message 29: by Kate (last edited Jan 07, 2012 05:57PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kate O'Hanlon (kateohanlon) | 778 comments It's been delayed to Jan 17th due to a scheduling problem.

The direct link to Tregillis' blog is
Yep, his site can be tricky to navigate. (but so pretty)

message 30: by Andy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Andy Runton | 19 comments Awesome! Thanks, so much, Kate! :)

Fresno Bob | 554 comments I enjoyed this very much, and would recommend tim powers Declare or any of charles stross "laundry" books to anyone feeling the same. I very much enjoyed the phantom hypothesis inthis thread

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