Book Review: Timeline

Time Travel

Author: Michael Crichton
Genre(s): Time Travel

Time Travel
Synopsis wrote:
In an Arizona desert a man wanders in a daze, speaking words that make no sense. Within twenty-four hours he is dead, his body swiftly cremated by his only known associates. Halfway around the world archaeologists make a shocking discovery at a medieval site. Suddenly they are swept off to the headquarters of a secretive multinational corporation that has developed an astounding technology. Now this group is about to get a chance not to study the past but to enter it. And with history opened to the present, the dead awakened to the living, these men and women will soon find themselves fighting for their very survival–six hundred years ago. . . .

Timeline is by far the best novel Michael Crichton has written in quite some time, his other recent works didn’t sit well with me, and is one of my favorite books to reread over and over. The movie adaptation was terrible, lets get that out of the way, and those who didn’t like the film should not class the book in the same ranks. Fans of science-fiction, time travel, or even history will love Timeline.

One of the most intriguing parts about this book is how the characters set forth to time travel. Crichton has an original concept for the idea of time travel, as well as the effects of time travel, and explains it well to the readers. Needless to say there is no complicated “butterfly effect” in this book, only good fun in a time period other than the present. Crichton also adds to the novel by showing multiple problems with the time travel method he uses to make the story a tad more realistic, though as with most of his fiction works there is no truth to the concept. One of these problems is transcription errors, in which people come back from time travel with fingers in the wrong place and internal bones messed up. Michael continues to come up with new and interesting ideas for his readers, and Timeline is no exception.

The other major factor in this story is the time period that the time travelers visit when going to find their lost companion. This is where the author really stars as he shows off his research and intelligence. The Middle Ages are painted perfectly, sounding as historically accurate and realistic as they could be. People talk in the right accent and use the right type of arrogance and tone associated with their class. Duels are fought on horses with swords and lances and other weapons, while beautiful queens run nations behind the back of the “real” leaders.

As for the characters, Crichton delivers some memorable ones. My personal favorite is the muscleman Marek who acts as if he were actually from the time period the time travelers visit, and not the present. Crichton also creates a villain in multi-billionaire founder Donniger and makes sure that he gets what is coming by the end of the novel.

All in all Timeline is a great book and a fun way to learn a little history that readers may not have known before. Time travel is always a fun concept and Crichton does not fail to deliver in his only book using it.

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