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Review: This is How to Lose the Time War by Amal Al-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

I feel like everyone else that I know has already read this and loved it but I have just absorbed it and I have feelings that I simply must share. Gosh I loved this novella.  Its poetic and epic and visceral and it really got to me in a way that I didn’t expect.  

Red is an operative of the agency she is aware that there is an enemy operative who is trailing her and she feels that she has finally met her match.  One encounter Red finds a letter from her opponent, reads it and then decides to continue the correspondance at great risk to both of them.

Blue the opposite number is from the Garden. Where the Agency is logic and maths the Garden is gentle chaos. I loved the tension between the two sides, I loved the use of language in the letters, I loved the snapshots of different times and different strands – it was a a universe that was rich and stunningly beautiful.  

One thing that might bother some readers is that the time war is actually happening elsewhere than the page and whilst that might be frusrtating for some, I thought the relationship between Red and Blue was more than enough for this novella. The background flashes we get as the big picture add colour to the story but the crux is the interraction between them.  And have I mentioned that I love the language? Have I?  I feel like I should bang a gong and announce how awesome it is.

Also as I have been reading this as part of the Subjective Chaos Awards I feel that this is a very high bar did I like it more than To be Taught if Fortunate?  Definitely a tight race so far.

Jane Hanmer

Born in deepest darkest Shropshire. Currently living in Durrey. A reader of books, a watcher of theatre and film, a player of board games. Intersectional Feminist Pronouns: She/her

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