This is a classic.
The book tells two stories -- one following the adventures of a time-traveling historian who goes back to the 1300's and one following the university staff who run the equipment used to send her back. I found both stories sort of interesting, maybe a little more so in the future part. However, I cannot recommend this to casual readers. it's way too long, with loads of paragraphs and pages telling us tedious details about the family of the medieval characters, and I especially found the child Agnes trying and a lot of ink is wasted on her "exploits." Plus, the author wasn't very clever in foreseeing the future. Lots of frustrating time is spent in the 2048 part trying to find a video-phone that isn't overloaded or in use. Seems cell 'phones must die out in that world since no one has one. And they still rely on books to research stuff, so the Internet has also disappeared. A disappointing read considering all the praise it's gotten.
A highly engrossing mixture of historical fiction, science fiction, a bit of romance, even academic politics...! Once time travel has been invented, the best way to study history is to go back and live it, though some places are more difficult to live of course.
Probably the best work by this author.
This is a time travel science fiction book where the main character, a young female historian, goes back to medieval times. The author’s main purpose in writing this book, so far as I could tell, was to show off her knowledge of that era. It was lush with detail, but unless you are into history you’re likely to be overwhelmed by the tedious display.
It was a strain to give this as much as two stars. Perhaps I was expecting too much because this was a Hugo and Nebula Award winner and Willis is supposedly an iconic figure in science fiction, but I must agree with all those who say it was boring. The almost six hundred pages could have been easily trimmed to two hundred. The author tries to keep the reader in suspense by constantly keeping the characters from contacting each other with the necessary information due to sickness, quarantine, travel with no phone, etc. It was simply irritating. The plot really doesn’t hold together and most of the characters aren’t very likeable. The whole bell-ringing thing was another irritant. Maybe Outlander fans would enjoy it, but I can’t recommend it.
This was a major struggle to even keep skimming the pages - a huge disappointment for such a promising premise. I was to the point I didn't care about the people at all. What a waste of my challenged vision.
This was a fun, unique read. It's definitely a little dated -- but I personally think that adds to the fun of it. Time traveling to the 1300's? It's good stuff!
According to the New York Times Book Review this is a "Tour De Force". If this is correct, it speaks poorly to the state of American Literature. From a historical point of view this book is well done. However, it is a slow, boring read unless you are an Anglophile and love reading about rain and umbrellas. The bureaucratic conflicts are badly overdrawn and most of the characters are stereotypes of the most basic "British" kind. From a plot perspective, I found it annoying and obtrusive that the characters, who were working with time travel kept having to look for a "call box", (Brit for telephone booth) or a telephone to make calls. You've got time travel but no cell phones. Where were the editors on this one? Took me two weeks to read it, usually takes me 3-5 hours to read a book of this length.
Overall, it's at best a beach book or something to read while storm stayed.
A gorgeously written book --- though beware, don't read it if you're already in a melancholy mood! The main protagonist, Kivrin, is smart, determined, compassionate, and well drawn; the setting is vivid and well researched; and the flow of the story will suck you right in.
Outstanding! I lived in this book while I was reading it and was loathe for it to end. The dual settings are the 1300s and the future, which doesn't feel futuristic. It still very Oxford, with brollies and tolling Christmas bells. The 1300s were so richly drawn that I forgot that the author really didn't travel there for reference. And the characters - the icing of all good books - I love them.
Which is more deadly: infectious disease or bureaucratic myopia? Hard to tell after reading this grimly humorous account of a time travel experiment gone wrong. Professor Dunworthy is an Oxford historian in 2054, when time travel has become an accepted part of faculty research. His protegee Kivrin is determined to visit the 1300s, a century that has only recently (and unwisely) been opened for exploration, over Dunworthy's furious protests. When it becomes clear that something has gone awry with Kivrin's launch, Dunworthy's rescue efforts are hampered by university politics, a deadly virus, xenophobia, and plain old stupidity. Meanwhile Kivrin, marooned in 1328 gradually realizes that she has landed in one of the most dangerous of times and places, and fights heroically to protect her new 14th century friends from a growing, implacable menace. Both Kivrin and Dunworthy will discover themselves capable of enduring more trauma than either thought possible. A great historical novel, but sadly it shows its age: Willis' failure to anticipate cell phones and Twitter in an era of time travel result in some ludicrous plot twists, and the minutiae of techno babble drags down the narrative. Still, a gripping story of mean-spirited pettiness trumping scientific breakthrough, and how faith, loyalty and friendship can transcend tragedy.
One of the best written scifi books I've had the pleasure to read in a very long time. I found it to be well paced with interesting characters. It would be appropriate for almost any age.
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