Seed of Satan, by Simon Laffy
Seed of Satan is an examination of human identity during World War One, questioning the notions of honour and betrayal, of nation and family. Throughout the actual fighting, the story focuses on the air campaign and the way that ordinary civilians became legitimate targets of war, while scientists and laboratory technicians made rapid progress in sinister new ways of killing: mechanical, chemical and biological.
Identical twins, William and Michael, are born to an English aristocratic mother and a Prussian diplomatic father. Their mother tragically dies during childbirth, leaving them to be raised in Germany by their father, who reluctantly agrees for the boys to visit their English relatives every summer throughout their childhood.
The onset of war in Europe causes an ever-widening rift between them and eventually they enter the conflict on opposing sides. As their family is split asunder, they are cast as modern warriors, struggling to adapt to the new, industrialized ways of waging war.
In parallel, Karl Hans Ziegler is an obsessive young scientist who hears voices in his head. They are the masters of Science, telling him secrets that will aid his progress in devising new weapons in germ warfare. From his ‘angels’, he learns how civilization not only provided new environments for humanity, but also the breeding grounds from which disease has plagued our species throughout the centuries.
I liked the dualism between William and Micheal -Germany and England- and the way the two brothers came to terms with the social and political changes on the eve of the Great War. Seed of Satan is an interesting read; well written and fast paced, the story will absorb you since the very first page.
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