Supra-doings genre review 2 – “Necessary Evil”

Jim McPherson reviews the other book he mentioned in the Mixed Swag post back in July (, point 2). Straight copy from Goodreads. Lynx to more on bottom, though might have to be a member in order to read.

Comments welcome here on pHantaBlog at bottom.

Necessary Evil (Milkweed Triptych, #3)Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Be warned. Features time travel. Also at least partially written in the first person. Note the ‘at least partially’ proviso. Note also that the time travel is a onetime thing, not an ‘if at first you don’t succeed in killing Hitler simply go back and try again’ ridiculousness.
Despite two personal no-nos and a couple of other strong reservations I’m recommending it — and not just because I liked the first two books and pretty much had to like the finale or acknowledge wasting time reading the series.
“Necessary Evil” does have a precognitive character in a major role. That’s one reservation. Fortunately, she isn’t perfect, otherwise there would have been no book to write. The other major reservation are some near-omnipotent characters known as Eidola (plural of ‘edolon’, meaning an insubstantial phantom — my Phantacea Mythos has eidola too, only they’re very much substantial).
I’m always wary of the all-powerful but in this case both the precog and the eidola are, um, necessary evils. Wouldn’t have a series without them. And it is a good book, a fitting end to a good series.
The writer, an American to judge from where he lives, sets the action in World War II England and Europe. He’s done some research, so handles the time and place aspects nicely. He deals with that old bugaboo, ‘characterization’, unobtrusively; thankfully manages to avoid triteness, over-familiarity, which is a definite plus given the genre.
Superheroes in the real world is the easy way of identifying the type. As a genre it’s becoming increasingly popular in books as well as on the screen. It’s not really comic book stuff either. Despite the first person narration there is a sense of menace and threat. There are also a couple of really effective set pieces.
We’re not talking about Superman or Batman, there are no costumes, there are no bullet proof guys and gals, and the amazing escapes are not altogether due to gals and guys who can’t shoot straight. Maybe the fact that it works is what make this series worth reading.

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