This Is How You Lose the Time War

Hardcover, 201 pages

English language

Published July 16, 2019 by Simon and Schuster.

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5 stars (18 reviews)

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.

In the ashes of a dying world, Red finds a letter marked “Burn before reading. Signed, Blue.”

So begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents in a war that stretches through the vast reaches of time and space.

Red belongs to the Agency, a post-singularity technotopia. Blue belongs to Garden, a single vast consciousness embedded in all organic matter. Their pasts are bloody and their futures mutually exclusive. They have nothing in common—save that they’re the best, and they’re alone.

Now what began as a battlefield boast grows into a dangerous game, one both Red and Blue are determined to win. Because winning’s what you do in war. Isn’t it?

A tour de force collaboration from …

5 editions

Great read, savored it to the last drop, took it as slow as I could

5 stars

Once into the flow of the correspondence, I knew I wanted to take it slow, only read on my commute, which is ideal given that the chapters are short and I could change trains or transports and divide the chapter into action and letter. I really loved the tone, story, the arch it builds, everything... This is certainly one I will revisit.. it's so imaginative and at the same time relatable.

Either too short, or too long.

No rating

I can't decide if this would have worked better (for me) as a short story, or a full length book. If it was longer, it could have expanded on it's ideas. If it had been shorter, it wouldn't have felt so repetetive.

There is some good ideas here, but they deserve better than being hand waved away. How do Red and Blue target their letters to each other across strands of time? If there are certain contested junctures in time, shouldn't they be swarmed with agents, and multiple aspects of the same agents? If the protagonists are just cogs in two massive opposing machines battling for supremacy over all time - why does it seems like they are the only two operators in the field?

I'm not saying this is a bad book, there is a lot good writing here. But it didn't work for me. Two highly subjective stars. …

a teapot in a tempest

5 stars

"This is How You Lose the Time War" asks the reader to perch on the shoulders of two operatives on opposing sides of a time-traveling war.

Each chapter follows "Red" or "Blue" as they scurry up and down timelines and across dimensions. The book is both sweepingly broad and extremely contained and personal.

The settings flit by, dizzying: a temple for mechanized humans, an ancient holy cave, the assassination of Caesar - each sketched with broad, emotional strokes to give the setting an aesthetic. One gets the sense that a great web of cause and effect is being constantly constructed, altered, and destroyed, without ever seeing the full picture.

Against these backdrops, the characters "Red" and "Blue" write to each other - as nemeses, then as friends, ever deeper entangled even as they demolish each other's plans and forces. The letters make up an enormous part of the experience, and …

Review of 'This Is How You Lose the Time War' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I've had this sitting on my Kindle for a while, but I'm glad I waited in a way as it was the perfect choice for my last book of the year. Somewhere between a simple love story (but see Blue's thoughts on Romeo and Juliet) and the saving of the entire universe, it fits so much in such a small space and creates so many thoughts and images. A wonderful book, heartily recommended.

This Is How You Lose The Time War

5 stars

The first quarter reminded me of Doomsday Book and One Day All This Will Be Yours, and the last quarter reminded me of that Iain M. Banks book (I won't say which one because it would spoil either this or that if you haven't read both, but go read Culture (except for Consider Phlebas)).

The prose was everything I've come to expect from Max Gladstone, and now I'll have to try something else by El-Mohtar.

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4 stars