This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone #TimeWar

This is HowTIHYLTTW is such an unusual book, quite extraordinary really.  Thought provoking, clever and the type of read that will appeal on multiple levels.  I loved it.

Here we have a most unlikely love story, told primarily in epistolary format, this is a tale that spans the ages and cunningly side steps some of the issues that can sometimes accompany time travel and science fiction.

On the face of it this is a story of two agents, both jumping back and forth through time in order to manipulate the timeline.  Both pitched against each other and yet eventually, through loneliness, finding a place in each other’s affection that could prove deadly should that affection become known to their commanders.

I’m not going to enter into details of the plot to be honest.  I think each reader will have a different experience when reading this and so to try and sum it up in a nutshell is not something I’m keen to do – plus at just over 200 pages I really believe this will be best discovered with no prior knowledge going into the read.

So, what else can I tell you.

This works quite simply as a story of two people, adversaries to begin with, who slowly become enamoured with each other.  The writing is beautiful, flowery maybe but also with so many unique concepts that it is simply fascinating.

This brings me to the sci-fi elements.  This is the type of science fiction that doesn’t over elaborate – which means I love it.  It also means that it doesn’t become convoluted with over ambitious explanations.  The time travel element simply ‘is’.  I don’t know how it works, I don’t really know what missions both of these agents are undertaking, I don’t know what the objectives are – I just know that things happen and taken on face value like this there’s a sort of easy acceptance to it all.  Time travel can be another very complicated thread with all the paradoxes and getting turned around in circles but the simplicity here means no headaches for me – and no doubt no headaches for you too.  Now you might be thinking that you want all those explanations and details – and maybe I would have liked some hints – but, at the same time I found I really didn’t miss them.  It’s incredibly odd – they simply weren’t necessary to the story.  In fact, given that the two characters are so firmly rooted in this future world why would they need to explain anything to each other.  They wouldn’t – and so any such detail would only end up feeling forced.

The writing is really rather lovely.  There’s a sparsity to it where nothing at all is wasted, everything has a meaning here and it’s the sort of writing that makes you want to stop and reflect.  Don’t be too keen to gobble up these pages in a rush, you will be missing out if you do.

I may have mentioned that I love letter writing in my stories and this is no exception.  The letters here are sprinkled in the most unlikely places, scattered amongst seeds and other unexpected items.  I loved reading them.  The thoughts and desires but more than that the way the letters change over the course of time becoming something that both correspondents are desperately waiting for and have in fact become dependent upon.  On top of this there is the almost poetic style which when coupled with the unlikely romance between the two main characters gives it an uptodate Shakespearean feel.

I loved all the references, the ones I picked up on anyway, I’m sure I missed a good few or they were simply above my head as this is a clever little nugget.  And this brings me to my final thoughts, which I’m still dwelling on.  This is a story that I felt had a subtle underlying message.  The two central characters are fundamentally opposed in the first instance purely as a result of their own make-up.  This is set in a far future that has seen advances not only in technology but also in nature and yet the two don’t sit well together – in fact they’re at war with each other – right up until they discover they can get along.

Anyway, this book is very different, very unusual in fact, and, very good.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher, through Netgalley, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

4.5 of 5 stars.

Finally my thanks to Jo Fletcher Books for including me in the blog tour for this wonderful novel.  I’ve posted the banner below so you can see which other bloggers are taking part and maybe pay them a visit to check out their thoughts too.

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20 Responses to “This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone #TimeWar”

  1. Tammy

    Glad you loved this, Lynn. I’m reading it right now and although I struggled in the beginning, it’s starting to come together.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, it can be a bit difficult here and there and at first I had to go back and have a bit of a reread of the earlier chapters but then I got into the swing of things.
      Lynn 😀

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    What a fascinating review! I was intrigued by your recommendation about taking one’s time in reading this: it makes it sound as if this story must be savored like a fine wine… 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, I think you need to take your time reading this one. The writing is quite poetic and I found myself highlighting a lot of text – it probably won’t be a book for everyone but I thought it was really unusual and maybe even a little groundbreaking.
      Lynn 😀

  3. jessicabookworm

    I like science fiction that doesn’t over elaborate too – I am very happy to except that things ‘just are’ 😉

    • @lynnsbooks

      Me too – plus, sometimes convoluted explanations lead to more questions.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Ooh, I started this one on vacay as well, but put is aside after soon after because it was weird, like you said. Not in the bad way, really, but it’s definitely not the kind of book for a brain that just wants to veg out. I am going to try and tackle it again soon, now that I’m back!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Definitely a strange book and not really something I’d want to read on holiday. On the plus side it’s very quick and has quite an impact. On the down side – well, it simply won’t be for everyone.
      Lynn 😀

  5. waytoofantasy

    I’ve heard SO many great things about this one. I just got my copy in the mail and am very excited about reading it soon. Great review, Lynn!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks – I loved it, it’s so different and I think groundbreaking in some ways – but, at the same time, I think the purple prose won’t be for everyone. I hope you love it.
      Lynn 😀

      • waytoofantasy

        Oh, well I love purple prose so that’s a mark in its favor for me, LOL 😀

      • @lynnsbooks

        Yay – me too. 😀

  6. Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky

    Yay happy to see you loved it! I definitely want to see more letter writing in stories. ANd I still can’t believe it was *only* 20 pages!

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  10. WordsAndPeace

    wow, sounds unique! Thanks for sharing, great review. I’m now really intrigued

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