Thoughts: This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Truly, this is the briefest palate-cleanser between Tarzans.

Partly because this book is a novella, but also because it’s of that kind of particularly swallowable book. Lately I feel like I talk about swallowing books whole or inhaling them a lot, and I’m annoyed I’ve diluted the language so much because I really did with this one. Curse, you, past!Danni, you didn’t know what was in store.

Probably not hugely spoilery (and probably not long) but still, I recommend reading this one before looking at reviews of it.

I’ve never read anything by Max Gladstone before, but I have read a short story by Amal el-Mohtar which I really enjoyed. No real reason to say this, except the story is linked in the post so feel free to go for a wander if you haven’t read Seasons of Glass and Iron.

Now I’m here, it’s hard to know what to say! I read it really fast, on my journey to and from iaido, before bed, before work. I wasn’t expecting to hate it – I don’t think I’ve heard a single bad thing about it – and yeah, I didn’t. It’s great. I really loved it. It was another one of those books whose imagery and language was precisely keyed to my exact tastes, a tailored catnip.

The twists didn’t particularly shock me (the Seeker fell right into one of my guesses) and as far as time travel goes, it didn’t follow groundbreaking new heights of twisty-turniness, but it was perfectly satisfying and I didn’t want it any other way. It didn’t need more, it didn’t need to be flashier.

The literally one thing that I could maybe pick a nit out of is the first couple of letters, which I felt were a little short on substance behind their exquisite images. I can’t really explain this well, just a feeling that the story was trying very hard to show me a lot of aesthetic all at once with nothing behind it to grab on to. Very quickly, however, the story settled into itself and hooked me in.

Oh my goodness, just really not a lot to say besides “I loved it”. Characters, aesthetic, worldbuilding, lush lush wordplay, scope, loved it all. Yeah, this one falls under the growing list of “books everyone liked that I can’t argue with”.

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