Amal El- Mohtar and Max Gladstone

This is How You Lose the Time War is a gem. The authors have packed so much into this book. It is a salutatory demonstration of the power of good writing which allows the reader scope to appreciate, imagine and think.

El-Mohtar and Gladstone have written a love story. Red and Blue (the choice of primary colours has its own permutations) are warriors and infiltrators fighting on opposite sides of war, a war which slides backwards and forwards through time to rework history, between Agency and Garden. Such intense names for the opposing sides with so many connotations! Red and Blue are deployed to undo the making, the structure and creation, of the other side: what one makes is anathema to the other. They fight each other directly and indirectly.

One encounter begins a competition but within a space of time, and across time, they relish their communications and write spirited and secret missives and leave them for each other in extra-ordinary places. This is geo-caching writ large. Competition surrenders to admiration and succumbs to love.

The struggle turns onto maintaining their liaison without discovery: individuality and choice in a war which denies its agents such. This is How You Lose the Time War is a cascade of exotic descriptions, historical memes, evocative metaphor and literary references. It is a captivating and energetic novel about traitor angels, fallen genies, master machines and conditioned concepts who write poetry and create codes of love.

Such an elegant novel. Thank you Amal and Max.

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