Fiction Reviews

Navigator: Time's Tapestry Book Three

(2007) Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, 10.99, trd pbk, 323 pp, ISBN 978-0-575-0-7991-5.


This is the third in the 'Time's Tapestry' series. The is little to add to the reviews of the first two: Emperor: Time's Tapestry Book One and Conqueror: Time's Tapestry Book Two. The book is in effect an alternate history novel that features an occasional SF reference. The action has now moved forward to the 15th century and an England greatly affected by goings-on in continental Europe and the actual invasion of Arabs from northern Africa and the threat of potential invasion by the Mongols from Asia. Added into the mix is the creation of gunpowder and news of voyages of discovery.

Taking the SF dimension, there appear to be two agents (presumably from the future) at work affecting time. Both -- the time weaver and his opponent -- are trying to affect time's course to their own ends that appear to be in conflict with each other. Be careful now. Blink and you'll miss the references to the timeline elements of this book.

As with the previous two in the series, this is very much an alternate historical novel and barely an SF book. If such matters to you then be warned. If not and you revel in historical fiction and fantasy then you are likely to enjoy this title immensely. Having said this, as more of an SF buff than a fantasy or historical novel reader, I have been disappointed at the SF elements' low profile. Given that Baxter has included the idea of a multiverse in other of his books it is possible (only with a little stretch) to view much of his oeuvre in a far more collected way than they are presented in his 'also by Stephen Baxter' listings. All that would be needed in this case would be for, say, the Xeelee (or some other Baxter creation) to be somehow behind or associated with the time weaver's motives and the connection would be made. If it were then it would make this collected body of work rather staggering both in terms of scope and style. Enough of my musings. Historical fantasy buffs should pile into the Time's Tapestry series. ('Tapestry', 'pile'! Oh, suit yourselves.)

Jonathan Cowie

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