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For decades, Britain's warlocks have been all that stands between the British Empire and the Soviet Union - a vast domain stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the shores of the English Channel. Now each wizard's death is another blow to Britain's national security.
Meanwhile, a brother and sister - the subjects of a twisted Nazi experiment to imbue ordinary people with superhuman abilities - escape from a top-secret facility deep behind the Iron Curtain. They head for England, because that's where former spy Raybould Marsh lives. And Gretel, the mad seer, has plans for him.
As Marsh is once again drawn into the world of Milkweed, he discovers that Britain's darkest acts didn't end with the war. And while he strives to protect queen and country, he is forced to confront his own willingness to accept victory at any cost.
The engrossing second book in Tregillis's Milkweed Triptych (after Bitter Seeds) takes up years later, in an alternate 1963 in which the warlocks of the British Empire protect the land from the Soviet Union. Secret agent Raybould Marsh and mage Will Beauclerk again find themselves drawn into the conflict, as the plans of the precognitive Gretel newly escaped from Russia finally start to come to fruition. Tregillis ably mixes cold war paranoia with his mythology, also nicely expanding characters (particularly Gretel) who had seemed one-dimensional previously. The monstrous, extra-dimensional Eidolons add a genuinely convincing menace that transcends the more banal evil motivations of the political game players, although Gretel's more complicated motivations really drive the action. A few nice twists keep things interesting, and the cliffhanger ending sets up the concluding volume quite well, though some readers will be frustrated by the lack of resolution.