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Necessary Evil (Milkweed Triptych) Paperback – 4 Mar 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (4 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765337290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765337290
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 2.6 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

More About the Author

Ian Tregillis is the son of a bearded mountebank and a discredited tarot card reader. He was born and raised in Minnesota, where his parents had landed after fleeing the wrath of a Flemish prince. (The full story, he's told, involves a Dutch tramp steamer and a stolen horse.) Nowadays he lives in New Mexico, where he consorts with writers, scientists and other unsavoury types.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marsha Sandy-Holmes on 30 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent read as the words flow over me, I can feel myself in a place of peace and rest, it matches my moods excellently
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 34 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Paul Genesse - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
(No spoilers)

I really loved this series and it was fun to read the third and concluding novel of the Milkweed Triptych, Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis. The plot threads were nicely tied up, and I was constantly surprised with the direction of the book.

The first two, Bitter Seeds and Coldest War were amazingly good (see my reviews of both) and Necessary Evil kept up the tension. I won't ruin the first two books here, as the beauty of the series relies heavily on not knowing what's coming. Overall, I think the first two books had me more worried about the characters and their fates, but Necessary Evil was excellent. I still never knew what was going to happen.

Gretel, the character who can see the future is back and the interludes from her point of view were brilliant. The chapters when we get into her mind were my favorites. The turn her character takes later in the book was unexpected for me, but I can totally understand why it happened. I don't know what else the writer could have done with a goddess like character to make the rest of the novel work, but I wasn't expecting the series of events involving her shift. Never trust Gretel is still the best advice anyone can give.

This was a very unique and ambitious series, and book one, Bitter Seeds was an incredible achievement. Book two, The Coldest War blew my mind, especially the ending, and I wondered how the third novel would compare. For me, the second book was probably the peak of the series as far as high drama and tension, and Necessary Evil was not as epic in some ways, though it was a worthy conclusion. I think reading the three books back to back to back would be best, as there are clues in book one and especially two that will improve the experience of the reader in book three. All the books are so interdependent with each other it's hard to separate them. Having book two fresh in your mind when reading book two would be best.

The author created such a complicated web that little things mean a lot, and small events change the course of history. Pulling it all together in the finale was a fantastic achievement and the epilogue had a lot of heart. I was so glad to read the last chapter, as some writers fail to deliver there, but Tregillis pulled it off perfectly.

If you're a fan of alternate history, spies, characters with super-powers, and great writing, read this series for sure.

Highly Recommended 5/5 Stars

Paul Genesse
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Time-travelers versus X-men versus Warlocks - the Final Episode 3 July 2013
By Peter S. Bradley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Marsh is back...back in London of 1939.

If you have read the prior two instalments of the "Milkweed Tryptich" - and you should before reading this review - you know that Ian Tregillis has played out the ramification that a Nazi superscience program - based on giving human beings "battery-powered" abilities - has succeeded. This tipped the early days of World War II dramatically in favor of the Germans, allowing the Germans to destroy the British military at Dunkirk. The only thing that spared Britain from invasion were the warlocks, who dealt with Lovecraftian horrors, aka the "Eidoloen," from another dimension. With the warlocks, the Brits were able to defeat Germany, but this left all of Europe in Soviet hands in this alternate history...and the Lovecraftian horrors with the key to the destruction of the world.

Marsh - the protagonist of the first two books - is sent back in time through the eldritch powers of the Eidolen. His mission is to destroy the German program and the British program, and maybe spare his alternate self from the life of misery that he lived after his daughter was killed in the saturation bombing of a small British village. He's aided in his mission by Gretel, the German "mutant" with the ability to see, and control, the future. Gretel for some reason has decided that she loves Marsh and therefore must destroy Marsh's baby daughter and his wife.

Does Marsh succeed in his mission? Will the British army survive Dunkirk? Will the Eidolens eventually destroy the universe? Will we have the history we remember?

You can pretty much figure that out for yourself.

The strengths of the book was its conception of an alternate history, so similar but so different from ours. This "big picture" element of the book is what kept me reading through to the end, quite frankly.

On the other hand, I didn't like the characters at all. The were, quite frankly, a bunch of whining, bipolar ingrates. Marsh and Will and the rest would go from being judgmental, sarcastic twits to their "friends" to berating themselves privately for being such bad friends to berating their friends for being "stupid toffs" every other scene. Will and Marsh would think kindly of each other, until they were together and then they would become accusatory jerks to each other. Marsh's relationship with his mentor seemed to be a sketch in how to have an abusive relationship ("Well, I must say Marsh, when you cock something up, you cock it up royally.") And why was Gretel infatuated with Marsh? Not a clue, other than that it helped move the plot along.

Gretel could have been a fascinating character, but midway through this book, she loses her power to see the future and is taken off the board, except insofar as it is necessary for our heroes to torture her by letting her injuries fester and then sending her to a Britsh-version of the Gulag. Admittedly, Gretel was evil, which is not surprsing since she grew up in a human "test to destruction" environment, but our heroes became essentially unsympathetic in my view in their treatment of Gretel. I mean, hate her, but give her some medical treatment, for heaven's sake!

Also, another character that we formed an attachment to in "The Coldest War" is written out of the script without any effort at redemption.

Also, the plot coincidences and lack of common sense were annoying. Younger Marsh really was going to get on a sub to go to Germany to destroy the dreaded German experiment with no plan or resources...on the say so of a complete stranger, i.e., the older Marsh. And, of course, it made sense not to take the younger Marsh into the older Marsh's confidence because of no reason in particular.

And then there was the reveal that the mysterious old man in book one really was the older Marsh in book three, except that they were completely different time-lines. Tregillis attempts to explain this as "reverberations" with babble of jargon, but this was unconvincing, and seemed to beg the notion that another Marsh from another time-line made it to older Marsh's time-line, but then did nothing except make two plot-necessary appearances....or something else.

All in all, this was an entertaining book and an entertaining trilogy. I certainly don't recommend that a forewarned reader not read it. I did find the characters annoying and the plot holes problematic, but I did keep with it to the end to see what the answers were going to be and how things came out in the end. The writing is accessible, and I did get a sense that Tregillis was providing a reasonably accurate view of life in London during the Blitz.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Ending Poisoned All My Pleasure 7 Nov. 2014
By Jessica Hammer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was enjoying the first two books, both because they were well-plotted and entertaining, and because I thought Tregillis was setting up a clever investigation into morality in wartime. Just how far do the ends justify the means? And do your intentions matter when you're committing horrible acts? How far should one go to save one's country, or the world?

Unfortunately, Tregillis eventually answers his own questions with the most juvenile, insulting pap imaginable. If you're a heroic white Englishman, then it doesn't matter if you both commit terrible deeds and they lead to terrible outcomes - if your heart was in the right place, you deserve a second chance. But if you're a Roma woman? Then you're evil and crazy, even if you save the entire world, and you deserve to be punished by the men whose lives you've saved. I can't decide which I find more unpalatable: the moral vision Tregillis espouses, or how it leads him to turn a potentially beautiful narrative tension into something profoundly banal.

I can't even enjoy the first two books of the series anymore knowing how cartoonish and unsubtle the author's take on his major theme turns out to be. Profoundly disappointing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Unnecessary banality 6 Mar. 2014
By Matt Morgan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Not sure why so many seem to write so glowingly of this deeply disappointing end to a trilogy that started with such promise. It feels like Tregillis had some really great ideas and bounced them off a lot of very wise heads to get much-needed insights into making "Bitter Seeds" quite the compelling read, then went it alone with the next two books. The reasons for Gretel's schemes coming undone are poorly explained and unconvincing, the demises of the other REGP ubermenschen are hollow and forgettable, the escape from justice of people every bit as despicable as Marsh makes Gretel out to be (I'm looking at you, Stephenson) is galling, and the meshing of the alternate time line feels fumbled (deus ex tempora, if you will). Clearly I'm in the minority of opinions on this book; many readers must enjoy their adolescent black ops fantasies served with heaping helpings of petty vengeance and jingoism.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Awesome end to a phenomenal trilogy 16 May 2013
By Corry L. Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
You know how sometimes you fall in love with a book--say Tregillis' first novel, Bitter Seeds? You love the WWII spycraft, you love the action, the Nazi superheroes and the British warlocks. You love the explosions and the way momentum is totally conserved. And then you're afraid that the rest of the series might not live up to the awesomeness that was the first book? Then you read book 2, The Coldest War, and it also totally rocks, but really, how likely is it that the third book in the series will leave you walking away satisfied, anxious to pick up the author's next book?

Well, Necessary Evil knocked the socks off my expectations. It surprised me, it wooed me, it had me biting my nails, and it made me cry. It's a phenomenal conclusion to the Milkweed trilogy. As always, Tregillis delivers awesome action, great intrigue, fascinating characters, and some of the best prose you'll find in the genre. I couldn't put it down--and had to fight off my husband to read it first. I'm glad I won.
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