RogerBW's Blog

Hope For the Best, Jodi Taylor 01 May 2024

2019 science fiction, tenth in the Chronicles of St Mary's series (time travel). Time to deal with a problem once and for all.

…except that, once more, we're expected to forget that there's a huge difficulty with catching someone at a point in their timeline at which they haven't already done all the bad things they're known to do. Until we're suddenly reminded of it at the end. At the same time, possibly as a way of introducing the Time Police sub-series, what was until now a self-correcting unalterable history is now something that can go awry and need to be fixed. Which is fine, taking us from the panic in London as the Armada is sailing up the Thames to a few decades earlier when both Mary and Elizabeth are assassinated to leave Jane Grey to grow into an unexpected tyrant… it's good stuff. It's just not stuff that fits with the temporal physics that the series has previously established.

Also, as usual with the St Mary's series, this is really several shorter works jammed together with a loose theme (Max is seconded to the Time Police for nefarious purposes). It all gets quite choppy at times, and smoother transitions to finish off one sub-plot and start another would certainly have helped.

Really, though, the problem is that this is mostly Max surrounded by the Time Police, or working with runaways Adrian and Mikey and their home-made time machine, rather than with the established St Mary's family. It's a change of pace, certainly, but not one that I found effective.

‘The thing is, Max, you'd be a lot less conflicted if you faced this. Drag it out into the open and confront it. Ask yourself—what should I do? And then ask yourself—what do I want to do? Answer those questions, make a decision and you're done. Doubt, uncertainty, fear, everything will just drop away. Yes,' he continued cheerfully, ‘they'll be replaced by a whole new raft of doubts, uncertainties and fears, of course, but you can deal with all that easily enough. There—all done.'

It's all right; there's nothing here to make me drop the series. But it's not especially interesting compared with some of the earlier books.

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Previous in series: Christmas Past/The Battersea Barricades/The Steam Pump Jump/And Now For Something Completely Different/When Did You Last See Your Father?/Dessicated Water/Markham and the Anal Probing/Little Donkey | Series: Chronicles of St Mary's | Next in series: Doing Time

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