Jul 15, 2016

[Books] Time Siege

It was an interesting run reading Wesley Chu's new science fiction venture Time Salvager, which an entirely new story world apart from his Lives of Tao series of books. It was nice to explore new characters and new ideas from his perspective. He had already tackled aliens, so why not time travel right?

Time Siege is the direct sequel to that first novel and is obviously part of a trilogy, as is the way of such things. After the revelations at the end of the first book and the survival of our protagonist (it did get a little dicey), what's next for our heroes? Is there still a chance to save the future by digging into the forgotten knowledge of the past?

This being the middle of a potential trilogy, there will always be a chance that things might feel a little slow or the pace of progress will definitely feel different from the first book. It's a natural time for developing characters, deepening relationships and addressing more internal issues. There are certainly external threats that one must cope with, but that can't be the concern all the time. And so you'll always need books like this to address those character needs.

Synopsis: Time Siege is the sequel to Time Salvager, both written by Wesley Chu. As a member of the Angry Robot Books Angry Robot Army, I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion of the book.

After the generosity of former Auditor Levin, chronman James Griffin-Mars has gone into hiding together with the Elfreth tribe deep into the wastelands of the former United States. He travels together Elise Kim, scientist who might find a cure for the Earth Plague and also his romantic partner as well as Grace Priestly, the infamous Mother of Time who discovered the secrets of time travel. They've been on the run from combined Valta and ChronoCom forces for some time now and without a home they haven't had a chance to setup camp and continue research into a cure. But James has a new plan that involves regaining their ability to make time jumps for much-needed supplies. But given James health, he is unable to make the jumps himself and thus a new chronman needs to be located.

Biggest irony here is that this book involves very little time travel this time around. We start the story with James lacking the resources to go back in time given the destruction of his collie ship and their lack of a permanent camp. So things are definitely tough and naturally they have to work together as a tribe to get back out of the rut. There's a moment of triumph when they get their new spacecraft to fly, but we didn't quite get to enjoy the build-up in that project.

The middle section of the book focuses a lot on Elferth tribe and how Elise has risen to become their leader, the Eldest. She can no longer operate just as an outsider scientist and it seems like she barely does any research in this book. Instead there's a lot of wandering around, worrying about the needs of the tribe and focusing on finding them a new home. And given we have a largely primitive post-apocalyptic sort of tribe, that's a fair amount of wandering and skirmishing before they find even a semblance of a home.

There's a lot of to be said about character development in this book though since the seemingly "slower" pace of things does allow for a lot of key moments here and there. James has a lot of personal demons that he needs to excise from his life while Elise has all of those who depend on her as a leader. I think  the only major character that I wish had gotten more air time as Grace the Mother of Time. She needs to do more than be snarky, bitchy and a general smart aleck. She is so much more than that!

The book builds up to an inevitable confrontation between Elferth and Valta-Chronocom forces once more but there's another conflict thrown into the mix of things to further complicate matters. It makes sense and it does feel like the sort of twist that a reader would introduce only because aspects of the original plan did feel a little stopgap at best. But even at the end of things they still have a long way to go.

Time Siege is a solid continuation of the story but it did feel like it got bogged down in the limitations of the Mist Isle. It may be an apples and oranges comparison moment as one cannot always have interesting action nor character development alone so you have to find a balance. Thus the book gets 3.5 odd innovations within the tribe out of a possible 5.

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