RogerBW's Blog

A Question of Time, Fred Saberhagen 09 July 2024

1992 fantasy, seventh in Saberhagen's loose Dracula series. A girl has gone missing near the Grand Canyon, and it's nothing like that simple.

If A Matter of Taste reminded me of Thorn with its gritty shenanigans, this book was more like Dominion: there's magic and deep weirdness going on, and at least one place seems to have come entirely unmoored from time.

Which in turn makes it a bit of a shame that there isn't more done with it. There are two main narratives, a young man kidnapped from a Civilian Conservation Camp work force in the 1930s and the missing girl in the modern day, because flashbacks have become an important part of the series, but the earlier one gets discarded without any narrative conclusion, and there's never any question of mixing up causality. The span of the location reaches back a million years, but that leaves you still thoroughly in the Pleistocene, long after most of the more interesting archaic animals have become extinct. There's mention of the very early days of Earth, but to reach them you'd have to go back thousands of times further than that. And bring air tanks. (Also, the Grand Canyon is deeper in the past?)

It's a lovely set of ideas but it's being used for the same old tales of obsession and dominance. At least this time the obsession isn't over a woman, or for straightforward power. Private investigators do their two-dimensional thing, without much effect, and Dracula is effortlessly superior whenever he's on stage. (And this time he doesn't even have an adversary to stop him succeeding at everything he tries.)

I think this book would have been much better if Saberhagen had had something to say.

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See also:
Dominion, Fred Saberhagen

Previous in series: A Matter of Taste | Series: Dracula

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