© Linda Buckley-Archer, illustration © James Jean.
Another recent trilogy is completed with this volume. I reviewed “The Time Travelers” and “The Time Thief” previously. I love time travel stories, and this is a good one overall, though I have to admit I didn’t like this third book as well as the first two. I’ll explain why, but first some description.
As you might expect with a time travel tale, the plot is quite complicated, but at the center of it are two children, Kate and Peter, who are strangers when they meet outside London in our time, but when they are hurled into England’s past, become a lifeline for each other and fast friends. In the year 1763, where they are throughout this third book, they have found both staunch friends and mortal enemies. One of each variety are Gideon, a reformed pickpocket, and The Tar Man, his criminal mastermind brother. Then there is Lord Luxon, who has stolen their time machine and is now in our time creating all sorts of trouble for the world in New York City, as he attempts to change history and cause America to lose the Revolutionary War. Back in 1763, Kate is in dire health, as the effects of time travel on her are unraveling her very atoms and she is becoming increasingly ghostly, and experiences ever longer periods of super-fast time, where everyone else around her seems to be frozen. Kate and Peter, and their friends, including Gideon, must try to track down The Tar Man, who has another time machine, and get Kate and Peter back home before it’s too late.
Okay, here’s why I liked this book the least of the three, despite many good things in it. In the first two books Kate, Peter and Gideon all had their ups and downs, but were able to control their own story somewhat. In this book, they seem helpless in an ever more out-of-control situation caused by the time travel. The very world around them is fragmenting, and the time quakes of the title are creating fearsome effects. In the end, Kate does manage to do one more heroic thing, and Peter has the idea that will bring Gideon and his brother together to the final resolution. But, usually in a story like this, the protagonists go through an arc: drawn down into the depths of trouble, they fight their way out of it, and in the end, there is a satisfying climax, and then some quiet moments for the characters to reflect on their journey and what they’ve learned from it. The way the end of this story is structured (and I won’t be more specific to avoid spoiling it), there is no room for that final part of the arc, the quiet anticlimax.
Still, it’s a fine three-book saga, and has lots of great characters, good ideas, and well-researched historical recreations and settings. If you’ve read the first two, you’ll certainly want to read this one. And I would certainly recommend The Gideon Trilogy, as it’s called, to fantasy, science fiction and history fans. The covers by FABLES cover artist James Jean are all very cool, too!