Anubis Gates is a whirlwind time-hopping tale. Review by Violet Kane

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Tim Powers spins a humorous tale of time travel, sending his characters—and readers—through the centuries, but the twists and turns often led me to question where I was heading.

Professor Brendan Doyle is called upon to take a lucrative, if preposterous, job: a group of wealthy eccentrics wish to go back in time to hear poet Coleridge give a lecture in 1810. The equally eccentric character of Darrow has discovered a series of gaps in time, allowing him to travel from one gap to the next, and luckily a four hour gap neatly coincides with Coleridge's lecture. Darrow stands to profit at a million dollars a head for orchestrating the trip, and Doyle gets a healthy fee—especially considering that his specialty is minimally Coleridge, but rather the poet William Ashbless. The Coleridge lecture goes off without a hitch, but Doyle gets kidnapped by gypsies and misses his moment to return home to 1983. Stuck in the 1800's now, Doyle enters a community of organized London beggars in an attempt to make ends meet, while still holding out hope that the gypsies will be able to get him back to his home time. From here, the novel turns into a mine-field of twists and turns, with body swapping, further time jumping, and a shocking discovery (at least, for Doyle) about William Ashbless.

This novel is generally clever and humorous. The speculative elements, including the dynamics of time travel are explained in an accessible way that does not take over the story. Doyle's adventures in 1810 London are fast-paced and detailed with subtle comedy. The story even takes a conceptual and philosophical pause now and then to ruminate over the implications of time travel. My main problem with this novel is that it seemed, at times, to be simply an excuse for a crazy romp. Too often in this story, wacky twists of plot happen to Doyle, without our main character having much to say about them. As a result, I never got the sense that I knew much of Doyle as a character. He was more often reacting to the latest calamity, getting swept along by the current (even literally in one scene), than he was making his own decisions. Ultimately I didn't find enough character depth in this novel for my tastes. The characters and situations sometimes seemed drawn more for the sake of humor than for character exploration.

Nevertheless, this story should please many alternative reality fans. As I mentioned, it is a fast-paced read and most readers will find it enjoyable.


Violet "Violanthe" Kane is the Webmaster and Founder of ARWZ.com. She is an editor of ARWZ Literary Zine and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Medieval studies.