Stars: 4 out of 5.
This was a delightful little novella and a very nice introduction to the author, as far as first impressions go.
The story itself is quite an interesting take on time travel that I haven’t seen explored before, even though there is a certain logic to it. If someone was sent back in time to change the past, the present they come back to wouldn’t be like the one they left. And if they are sent again to change it back because say another faction changed something in the past to suit their agenda… well, there is no guarantee that the change they make will bring back the same present they were born in.
So what you have left with in the aftermath of a time war is a bunch of time agents trying to fulfill the agenda of governments that don’t exist anymore, or have never existed, depending on the twists the time war took along the way. That just keep changing things and fighting each other through time because they have no present to come back to. In some cases, they never even existed in the new present, because their parents never met or they died when they were a child.
This is meaningless slaughter both of people and of the time continuum until one time agent realizes that time is already so irrevocably broken that fighting over it doesn’t make sense anymore. His solution? Eliminate all the other time agents, then eliminate anyone who might ever invent a time travel machine. Anywhere. Anywhen. It’s brutal, it’s ruthless, and it’s very in character with our protagonist.
He isn’t a nice person. I would go as far as call him a psychopath, but anyone who’d fought in a time war for endless iterations of said time would have to be. He sits in the bottleneck between the broken remains of the time that was before and doesn’t let anyone with time travel technology get past him into what will become after. And he is perfectly happy to enjoy his little paradise of now in solitude. Until a time traveler comes from that after and claims that he created their whole civilization…
It was a fun read, even though all the characters in it were equally awful. Like I already said, the protagonist is a killer with absolutely no remorse or scruples, and the people he is fighting against are coming from a society that is just as awful, so as a reader I couldn’t really root for either of them. They both deserved to be erased out of time for different reasons. Heck, the only character I was rooting for was the dinosaur, but that’s because how cool would it be to have a pet dinosaur?
But even thought the characters are awful, it’s a fun romp through the broken shards of time watching them heap horrible things on each other. The ending was not what I had expected, but I admit that it has a certain poetic justice to it. It also leaves the door open for a sequel.
All in all, this was an enjoyable read that kept my attention for an afternoon and I wouldn’t mind revisiting this if the author ever writes a sequel.
PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.