RogerBW's Blog

No Time Like the Past, Jodi Taylor 30 April 2021

2015 science fiction, fifth in the Chronicles of St Mary's series. Max tries to get down to the business of investigating major historical events in contemporary time (don't call it time travel), but old enemies are an ongoing problem, even out of order.

As so often with this series, the pacing is strange: there's no gradual ramping-up of tension, and the major confrontation is about half-way through. It's all interspersed with historical observation missions, as well as artefact recoveries (you can't bring things back in a time machine but you can hide them somewhere to be dug up later).

It seems to me that an enquiring historian would notice just how neatly everything seems to work out and stop worrying about paradoxes, since this increasingly seems to be the sort of universe in which things always were that way (so even if changes are happening nobody has any memory of the world without those changes). Still, that would remove some of the tension; what do you do when you've accidentally knocked out Ephialtes just before he leads the Persians round the back of the Spartans at Thermopylae?

The individual episodes are enjoyable, though sometimes a bit heavily foreshadowed. And there's progress in the overall long-term plot (though as an experienced reader of time travel stories I am well aware that just because you've killed an enemy that doesn't mean they won't show up again). They just don't fit together in the middle layer, the glue between individual episodes that makes a book rather than an anthology. A Trail Through Time was unexpectedly solid; this one's back to the recipe as before.

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Previous in series: A Trail Through Time | Series: Chronicles of St Mary's

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