This Is How You Lose the Time War

This Is How You Lose the Time War

eBook - 2019
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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 two powerhouse writers that spans the whole of time and space.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Saga Press,, 2019.
ISBN: 9781534431010
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file,rda


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Oct 18, 2019

A terrific read that I couldn't put down. An imaginative love story told through exchanged letters written in the flickering of flames, the howl of the wind, and the patterns of gossamer insect wings, delivered across time and timelines. The characters feel fully fleshed and the setting is imaginative and compelling. I don't think I can recommend this enough!

forbesrachel Oct 18, 2019

Theirs is a tale that braids itself through time, worlds, and genres. Red fights for the future of the technological Agency. Blue fights for the future of the naturalistic Garden. Both agents have won their side great victories, and, have foiled the other's plans. In their centuries long struggle, they have left their marks, and finally noticed each other. Then a letter, a temptation, starts them on an entirely unexpected path. Writers El-Mohtar and Gladstone swap back and forth between the covert operations of the two characters (told in third person), and the precipitating letters (told in epistolary form). Their two leads dance, first in a battle between worthy rivals, before developing into something more intimate. Their love is a dangerous one though, and the climax revolves around their fate. But it isn't that which so grasps at you. It is the two who change because of each other, and the lyrical language. This story has a sci-fi backdrop with many wondrous things scattered throughout alternate timelines called Strands. The characters are not exactly human either, and because nothing specifies the gender of Red or Blue, even though they both use the "she/her" pronoun, you are left to define it yourself. However, the book has a literary form. An elegance from what it spends time describing; using imagery, and analogies to create emotional resonance within such a brief page span. Many will simply label this as sci-fi, when it is actually a love letter to love that transcends boundaries.

JessicaGma Oct 17, 2019

It's a very different and lovely book where you have two operatives locked in a war, but begin to write to each other in secret letters that's a really cool concept and works as a book. Also, it's short! I await more greatness from these two authors.

Oct 08, 2019

Novel reminded me of Spy vs Spy & Sam the dog vs Ralph the wolf over sheep job lampoon by Warner Brothers cartoon. Sure it was a bit Kafka in that how Time War started in first place. However, the multiple snapshots of various timeline, prose & the how the letters were formed format make up for it.

Oct 05, 2019

Just... Wonder-full! More than science fiction or romance, I'd call it poetry in prose disguise but I'm afraid that would turn possible readers away. So very worth your time and stretching your reading interests. Highly recommended!

Oct 05, 2019

Very hard to follow. Lots of gobbledygook. And a love story that make zero sense!

Oct 05, 2019

Very hard to follow. Lots of gobbledygook. And a love story that make zero sense!

Aug 20, 2019

Finally! So a few years ago when I read All the Birds in the Sky I struggled to figure out what it was, and I still don't know, but now I feel like I know what to recommend to people who loved it.

Anyway, This Is How You Lose the Time War is about a surprising relationship that develops between 2 deadly operatives in a possibly neverending war between the forces of nature and the forces of technology. It's a war that rages through time--literally they time travel all over the place--across universes, and into and out of history. It's amazing and lyrical and really strange.

I hesitate to recommend it to sci fi readers because it's kind of a love story, and that's not something I normally associate with sci fi. I think if you like to feel unbalanced when you are reading, but totally sucked in to amazing prose, you will love it. If you like to know what's going on, probably not so much. If you want to master the art of letter writing, maybe.

The audiobook is very capably performed by Cynthia Farrell and Emily Woo Zeller.

noramw Aug 15, 2019

What a strange journey this book is, but also a beautiful one. Elite agents on opposite sides of a time war engage in ongoing battle to turn the strands of time and reality in their favor, but things start to become personal. Here, the realities are a braid, and the book feels that way too, as pieces become layered in together. Light on hard science and deliberate in its language (revealing everything and nothing), “This is How You Lose the Time War” is sci-fi by way of Italo Calvino's "Invisible Cities."

Jun 17, 2019

This gets all the stars! It's wonderfully original, gorgeously poetic, achingly romantic. It effected me on a deep emotional level, wrecking me and filling me back up to the brim all at once. It's probably the best thing I've read since Circe last year, and that's really saying something. Just beautiful!

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at MPL

To Top