Hey all! It’s been a terribly busy week and I’ve been neglecting my reading and blogging in favour of pretty much everything else. So I’ll try to catch up on your comments and posts in the upcoming week.
In the meantime, here’s one very overdue mini review! (I told myself I would do more of these)
Title: Time’s Children (The Islevale Cycle 1)
Author: D.B. Jackson
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
Genre(s): Fantasy, Science Fiction
Subjects and Themes: Time Travel
Page Count: 528 (paperback)
Fifteen year-old Tobias Doljan, a Walker trained to travel through time, is called to serve at the court of Daerjen. The sovereign, Mearlan IV, wants him to Walk back fourteen years, to prevent a devastating war which will destroy all of Islevale. Even though the journey will double Tobias’ age, he agrees. But he arrives to discover Mearlan has already been assassinated, and his court destroyed. The only survivor is the infant princess, Sofya. Still a boy inside his newly adult body, Tobias must find a way to protect the princess from assassins, and build himself a future… in the past.
I found this to be a pleasantly lukewarm read for the most part. The prose is simple but engaging. The worldbuilding isn’t overly complex but still snags your attention. It doesn’t do anything out-of-this-world fantastic, but it sets up a nice jumping off point for what could be a very good fantasy series.
The world of Time’s Children is one where Walkers (those who can time travel), Spanners (those who can cross long distances in a blink of an eye), Seers (those who can glimpse into the future), and other such gifted individuals ply their services to nobility. Tobias is a 15-year old Walker who has been tasked with traveling back 14 years to prevent a war. Everything goes awry when he arrives, however, and he becomes witness to the assassination of the royal family and ends up having to flee the castle with the baby princess in his arms.
The time travel plot doesn’t kickstart until about 1/3 of the way into the book, which I actually quite liked. I appreciated that Jackson took the time to not only establish Tobias’ character, but also the rules of time travel–clothes off when traveling; running into your traveled self is dangerous; and if you travel back 12 years, you age 12 years, and when you travel forward again, you age 12 more–and the political situation of these countries. It’s fascinating stuff and I enjoyed this slower-paced first half more than the action-filled second half.
I also loved that these Walkers aren’t romanticized. While respected by nobility and commoners both, their job isn’t a pretty one. They exist, really, to clean up the nobility’s mistakes, sacrificing years of their life while doing so. A character remarks to Tobias near the beginning that there’s little to separate it from slavery, and I couldn’t agree more. I hope it gets brought up again in the later books because it’s great foundation for character conflicts.
Which brings me to my main problem: the characters. Tobias himself is a sweet, likeable boy who reminded a little bit of young FitzChivalry. But pleasant and likeable is about the extent of his character. I would have loved an in-depth exploration into his PTSD as I can only imagine the psychological havoc that a sudden aging can wreak on a person. Unfortunately, it’s an area for character growth that the story doesn’t really take advantage of. Yet, anyway. Considering this is only the first book, I assume–hope–we’ll see more layers to him in the sequels. As for the side characters, they’re a diverse bunch and they’re all given PoVS of their own, but I had a hard time connecting with any of them.
All in all, though, this was a fast-paced, highly readable fantasy with a lot of potential and room for growth and I’m interested to see where the author takes the story next.
Review copy provided by publisher via Netgalley