Unfortunately, I did not review the first half of Stephen Baxter’s peculiar Time’s Tapestry series. Like this one, the first three of the four volume series are mostly historical novels with barely detectable alternate histories. Still I liked the combination very much.

A retro review from January 24, 2009 …

Review: Navigator: Time’s Tapestry Book Three, Stephen Baxter, 2008.Navigator

Huddled in a church cellar hiding from Normans putting down an English rebellion in the wake of the Norman Conquest, a woman seemingly becomes possessed and utters a strange prophecy about a Dove to the Viking mercenary that will become her husband. That prophecy will be remembered by her descendents, and it will seem to contradict another prophecy held by an ambitious priest who has left England for Spain and its Moorish learning that may help him realize weapons designs from the future.

So begins the third book in this compulsively readable “alternate history epic”. This novels differs from its two predecessors with an alternate history actually developing. There is a deviation from our historical timeline when weapons technology develops slightly faster. The big historical events, however, are not different. The Battle of Potiers still stops a Moslem advance into Europe, and Western Civilization dodges a bullet with the sudden death of Genghis Khan. But Baxter’s story says there’s more involved in those events than it seems, that there may not be, as implied in previous books, just one entity from the future attempting to manipulate history but two or even four, all with different agendas. And the last third of the book makes Columbus the pivot in another struggle to change history.

This book, like its predecessors, is still mostly an historical novel. It’s not a genre I normally care for, but the short lengths of the books and Baxter’s epic sweep make him concentrate on the grand sweep of history, not the minutae of daily life in any one era. If the latter is what you like in your historical fiction, than these books may not appeal to you.

If you like alternate history, Baxter has created an interesting one. But you should start at the beginning of the series and not with this book. Those that have come this far will not be disappointed with this book.


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