This Is How You Lose the Time War
July 24, 2019 7:43 PM - by Amal El-Mohtar - Subscribe

Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters—and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone.
posted by Etrigan (19 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What did you think? I'm on the library waitlist on this one.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:02 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

OOOOH! Apparently I'm on a Gladstone high because I just finished this one the night before last. Again, female characters are written very, very well and the spy/enemy agent bit is just delightful. There's enough hints dropped throughout the book that I'd love to know more about the Garden and how it came to be as well as the Agency, but the details of why they are fighting and what the time war means to anyone doesn't really matter once you get into the details of Red and Blue's relationship.

Again, another damn fine bit of writing that I was sorry to finish.
posted by teleri025 at 7:47 AM on July 25, 2019

I enjoyed it! Amal did a reading nearby, which was fun.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:03 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

I feel too dumb to understand all of the tech in this book. I don't think I was smart enough to comprehend how they did the letters or their goals or how they were achieving them. Sigh.

The letter romance was steamy though, so I liked that aspect and that was what I was going for, after all.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:17 PM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

I feel too dumb to understand all of the tech in this book.

I think that was intentionally hand-wavy. If two societies had time- and alternate-universe-travel, then encoding information into seeds that is transmitted by ingestion may well also be possible, and they wouldn’t comment too much on the details.
posted by Etrigan at 5:51 AM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed it. I was in the midst of reading Chuck Wendig's "Wanderers" and needed a break because apparently an apocalypse written post-2016 can get pretty intense, and this was my choice. A perfect selection...gorgeous language, fun premise, and it had me on the edge of my seat in a completely different way. Highly recommended, and understanding the tech isn't a thousandth as important as understanding the people involved.

(Wanderers turned out to be just fine as well, after that little break.)
posted by lhauser at 9:34 PM on July 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

This book made me very, very happy at a time I really needed it.
posted by a device for making your enemy change his mind at 6:33 PM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

This was fantastic. A great love story AND a great time travel story. And I'm also a sucker for epistolary writing.
posted by kyrademon at 2:27 PM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Just finished. Loved it. I felt more my historical and culture gaps than any technological ones. I used my Kindle's word lookup function 10x more than usual.
posted by signal at 10:35 AM on August 6, 2019

Blue Will Never Be Satisfied
posted by Etrigan at 1:11 PM on August 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

I just read this, absolutely loved it, and then checked to see if there was an audiobook version (there is!) and purchased that, too. So, I'm listening to it right now. No regrets.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:25 AM on August 29, 2019

Thing I should mention about the audiobook: Red (Cynthia Farrell) sounds a lot like Siri/Cortana and it took me a while for me to get used to.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:50 AM on September 4, 2019

This was super cute and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to read about star-crossed women falling in love via letter.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:41 PM on September 9, 2019

This one had a short half-life for me. At first it burned bright--holy shit, what writing! I found out while reading that El-Mohtar is a poet, and it certainly shows. This is a short novel, a novella I guess, and the writing is fantastic.

But this stylized writing is also the book's weakness. The structure is interesting: Third-person narration, then first-person epistolary letters to the main (only?) characters in the book. I found the style worked really well for the third-person narration, but became a real mismatch for the letters. Not to mention the two women wrote in the same stylized, opaque, poem-language, so it was sometimes hard to discern who was writing to whom. Maybe all this was explained by the end, but I made it only about 2/3rds through, and, reader, I gave up. I really appreciate the fine writing, but it overpowered the characters way too much.
posted by zardoz at 4:14 AM on December 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

I really loved this book, and I'm glad it introduced me to Naomi Mitchison's Travel Light. What a delight that is!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:47 PM on March 9, 2020

What if Romeo and Juliet were time traveling assassins on opposite sides of a war, and they bonded over poetry and games?

Definitely not a criticism!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:09 AM on September 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm split on this one: formally, just excellent, balancing genres and voice and a tricky timeline, and it's very well wrought. But I wanted more interior reflection and less "I love you" (that's me, not the book).
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:27 AM on February 6, 2021

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