Friday, July 26, 2013

Review of Linda Buckley-Archer's "Gideon" Trilogy


This is the story of a boy named Peter Schock who is sent back in time to 18th-century England along with a girl named Kate Dyer. 

Sounds like a science fiction book, right?  Right.  And yet also, in a way, wrong. 

Because this series is just as much about the history as it is about the science of time travel.  Peter and Kate are forced to acclimate to live in the 18th century among friends (usually historical characters, but also the Gideon Seymour who lends his name to the trilogy’s title) and enemies (mostly the fictional Lord Luxon and his murderous henchman the Tar Man).  The more you know about your British 1700’s history, the more you’ll enjoy these books. 

That is not to say, however, you can’t enjoy them without being a history buff.  That’s where the science fiction comes in.  Back in the future, Peter and Kate’s parents are distraught and a team of scientists is trying to get them back.  Author Linda Buckley-Archer is very good with coming up with a logical method of time travel that doesn’t involve solar flares or flying counterclockwise around the globe, and she makes some good choices about the toll traveling back and forth through time takes on her characters. 

It’s the characters, though, and not the history trivia or the glitzy science fiction, that makes these books worth a read.  Our heroes: Peter, Kate, and Gideon, are all flawed, realistically drawn personalities with goals, motivations, fears, and backstories.  The villains are evil, but their motives are rational and their goals are far from the cheesy, “Time to take over the world!” cliché.  To prove that these characters are all individuals and multidimensional, each one responds to the idea of time travel differently.  Some think of it as a tool to learn about our past or change things for the better.  Others aren’t so noble, and would use it as a weapon.


PARENTAL NOTES: Although not described in much detail or glorified, there is violence in the book relating mostly to the more gritty time period (hangings, tarring, stabbings; the worst example is a teenage boy dies after a fall on the stairs).
AVAILABILITY: This series was released under a different title in the UK (Gideon the Cutpurse, The Tar Man, Lord Luxon), but can be purchased in the US under the (more generic, in my opinion) titles The Time Travelers, The Time Thief, and The Time Quake (if they had tried to keep the reference to Lord Luxon in that last book it would be The Time Lord and would require the time machine in the book to be blue and bigger on the inside).

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