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Necessary Evil

Necessary Evil, May 2013
Milkweed Triptych
by Ian Tregillis

Tor Books
Featuring: Raybould Marsh; Gretel
384 pages
ISBN: 0765321521
EAN: 9780765321527
Kindle: B00AEC9IZW
Hardcover / e-Book
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"One of the best books I've ever read!"

Fresh Fiction Review

Necessary Evil
Ian Tregillis

Reviewed by Jennifer Barnhart
Posted July 23, 2013

Fantasy Urban

The year is 1940. London is in the early days of World War II. Again. Raybould Marsh has been sent back in time to eliminate the Nazi supermen and England's wizards before their actions draw the attention of an ancient alien race, the Eidolons who have already destroyed Raybould Marsh's future world. Marsh's biggest threat is Gretel, a seer who choreographed the elaborate plan in order to save herself. Gretel will sacrifice worlds to hide from the Eidolons, but as she changes events, can she continue to sort through the threads of time to find a future free of the Eidolons?

NECESSARY EVIL by Ian Tregillis is the stunning conclusion in the Milkweed Triptych. For the last two weeks I've tried to write this review and the words have simply failed me. I cannot begin to cover the depth of Tregillis' writing. When a story fails to hit the right note, whether it be weak characters or implausible action or plot holes, readers can immediately spot it. While they might still enjoy the book because of the plot or characters, they know it could have been better. On the other hand, when all the elements of story are combined successfully, the reader can't separate out one particular aspect that made the story fantastic.

NECESSARY EVIL is a truly fantastic story on every level. From his stark, compelling prose to the complexity of character development, to the intricate details of the world NECESSARY EVIL has it all. It is without a doubt one of the best books I've ever read. It is possible to read this book and enjoy it without having read the first two. I don't suggest it, but it is that good. The nuances of plot and character development throughout the triptych make the conclusion heart-breaking and completely satisfying.

For those who don't read Science-Fiction and who curse the difficulties of following time-travel plots, let me say I used to feel the same way. Ian Tregillis has converted me. Smarter people may finds holes in the logic of time travel in this novel but not me. Every action made sense and the consequences of those actions made sense. The world is complex, but it's explained clearly and without being overly complicated. Because there is a base knowledge of the political and militaristic actions that took place during World War II, the machinations of the political powers in NECESSARY EVIL are fully grasped. People continue to act like the flawed, scared, and loving people. One of the great things about these characters is that while their actions reshape worlds, their decisions and their emotions could be my own. They're everyday people with everyday pains. The ability to make these larger-than-life actions personal and relatable speaks to Ian Tregillis' amazing skill as a writer. From the first page, he builds a bond between reader and character that is unshakable.

I highly recommend the Milkweed Triptych. NECESSARY EVIL is one of the best conclusions to a series I've ever read.

Learn more about Necessary Evil


12 May 1940. Westminster, London, England: the early days of World War II.


Raybould Marsh, one of “our” Britain’s best spies, has travelled to another Earth in a desperate attempt to save at least one timeline from the Cthulhu-like monsters who have been observing our species from space and have already destroyed Marsh’s timeline. In order to accomplish this, he must remove all traces of the supermen that were created by the Nazi war machine and caused the specters from outer space to notice our planet in the first place.

His biggest challenge is the mad seer Gretel, one of the most powerful of the Nazi creations, who has sent a version of herself to this timeline to thwart Marsh. Why would she stand in his way? Because she has seen that in all the timelines she dies and she is determined to stop that from happening, even if it means destroying most of humanity in the process. And Marsh is the only man who can stop her.

Necessary Evil is the stunning conclusion to Ian Tregillis’s Milkweed series.

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