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Timeline Mass Market Paperback – October 24, 2000

3.7 out of 5 stars 2,120 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, October 24, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When you step into a time machine, fax yourself through a "quantum foam wormhole," and step out in feudal France circa 1357, be very, very afraid. If you aren't strapped back in precisely 37 hours after your visit begins, you'll miss the quantum bus back to 1999 and be stranded in a civil war, caught between crafty abbots, mad lords, and peasant bandits all eager to cut your throat. You'll also have to dodge catapults that hurl sizzling pitch over castle battlements. On the social front, you should avoid provoking "the butcher of Crecy" or Sir Oliver may lop your head off with a swoosh of his broadsword or cage and immerse you in "Milady's Bath," a brackish dungeon pit into which live rats are tossed now and then for prisoners to eat.

This is the plight of the heroes of Timeline, Michael Crichton's thriller. They're historians in 1999 employed by a tech billionaire-genius with more than a few of Bill Gates's most unlovable quirks. Like the entrepreneur in Crichton's Jurassic Park, Doniger plans a theme park featuring artifacts from a lost world revived via cutting-edge science. When the project's chief historian sends a distress call to 1999 from 1357, the boss man doesn't tell the younger historians the risks they'll face trying to save him. At first, the interplay between eras is clever, but Timeline swiftly becomes a swashbuckling old-fashioned adventure, with just a dash of science and time paradox in the mix. Most of the cool facts are about the Middle Ages, and Crichton marvelously brings the past to life without ever letting the pulse-pounding action slow down. At one point, a time-tripper tries to enter the Chapel of Green Death. Unfortunately, its custodian, a crazed giant with terrible teeth and a bad case of lice, soon has her head on a block. "She saw a shadow move across the grass as he raised his ax into the air." I dare you not to turn the page!

Through the narrative can be glimpsed the glowing bones of the movie that may be made from Timeline and the cutting-edge computer game that should hit the market in 2000. Expect many clashing swords and chase scenes through secret castle passages. But the book stands alone, tall and scary as a knight in armor shining with blood. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"And the Oscar for Best Special Effects goes to: Timeline!" Figure maybe three years before those words are spoken, for Crichton's new novelAdespite media reports about trouble in selling film rights, which finally went to ParamountAis as cinematic as they come, a shiny science-fantasy adventure powered by a superior high concept: a group of young scientists travel back from our time to medieval southern France to rescue their mentor, who's trapped there. The novel, in fact, may improve as a movie; its complex action, as the scientists are swept into the intrigue of the Hundred Years War, can be confusing on the page (though a supplied map, one of several graphics, helps), and most of its characters wear hats (or armor) of pure white or black. Crichton remains a master of narrative drive and cleverness. From the startling opening, where an old man with garbled speech and body parts materializes in the Arizona desert, through the revelation that a venal industrialist has developed a risky method of time-travel (based on movement between parallel universes; as in Crichton's other work, good, hard science abounds), there's not a dull moment. When elderly Yale history prof Edward Johnston travels back to his beloved 15th century and gets stuck, and his assistants follow to the rescue, excitement runs high, and higher still as Crichton invests his story with terrific period detail and as castles, sword-play, jousts, sudden death and enough bold knights-in-armor and seductive ladies-in-waiting to fill any toystore's action-figure shelves appear. There's strong suspense, too, as Crichton cuts between past and present, where the time-travel machinery has broken: Will the heroes survive and make it back? The novel has a calculated feel but, even so, it engages as no Crichton tale has done since Jurassic Park, as it brings the past back to vigorous, entertaining life. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. 1,500,000 first printing; Literary Guild nain selection; simultaneous large-print edition and audiobook. (Nov. 16)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 24, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345417623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345417626
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,375,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Like many of the other readers who have ventured to write a review of this book, I found it to be a fascinating read, one in which I literally could not put down the book until I realized it was well past my usual bed time. The subject of time travel, backed-up with just enough (if not too much) scientific reasoning to support the belief in its eventual or imagined possibility, is a thrilling concept. Add to this, the chance to visit an era in which knights roamed western Europe and people lived in and around castles, all described vividly by Crichton as if he had been there, himself.
That said, once the cast of main characters arrives in the High Middle Ages of France, their interactions with the medieval citizens and the non-stop action provides for quick page-turning; however, this is also the point where it begins to get a bit too much to swallow (having swallowed so much already to get to this point). This cast of characters is like a team of superheroes, each one with individual talents, strengths and fatal flaws. One is an expert rock climber, another is nearly fluent in several medieval languages, dialects and weaponry usage, and the last one is a scholar of medieval technologies. As can be easily predicted during the introductions and characterizations of this cast, all of these strengths will certainly come into play later on in the book, and they do. Again and again and again. Sometimes, you wonder when one of them will suddenly sprout wings and say, "Hang on, I learned this cool flying trick while I was an aviation major back at Yale...before I switched to history."
Still, despite the tremendous leaps in superhuman skill and a never-ending supply of luck that Crichton liberally grants his characters, I truly enjoyed the fantasy that oozes from the book and found the imaginative departure from our modern world to be refreshing. I would definitely recommend this book to friends.
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Format: Hardcover
Let's face it... Michael Chrichton is never going to win the Nobel prize for literature. But for pure escapist reading, he's hard to top. And who but Chrichton could make scientific and technological subjects not only interesting, but even fun, for all us technophobes out there? TIMELINE (complete with a bibliography containing 80 references on the Middle Ages and ten on parallel worlds) tells a story of a group of scientists who step into a time machine and travel back to France in the 1300's to rescue a friend who preceded them and got stuck, in a world which proves to be a far more violent and frightening place than Geoffroy or Christine de Pizan ever wrote about. They have 37 hours to find their friend and get him and themselves safely back to the present. The ensuing day and a half turns out to be a typical Chrictonian roller-coaster ride and we know pretty much how it will turn out (and, yes, the villain gets his, and a good job, too), but if you take the book for what it is, it's fun and enjoyable. And some of his references are definitely worth pursuing (check out Michio Kaku's 'Hyperspace', for one). Say what you want about Chrichton's deficits as a writer, he gets you wanting to know more about what he writes about, and that, by itself, makes him a good read.
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By A Customer on August 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Having taught Medieval history, I am well aware how infrequently the era is addressed in popular culture. In spite of the cult of Creative Anachronism who recreate this era, few people seldom get it right. It is obvious that Crichton has done his research well. His tale is fascinating and accurate. It has high adventure and great suspense. It is not a classic by any means but it is a highly enjoyable read. It is further amazing that Crichton combines high technology and science with Medieval lore and culture. It is a highly appealing mix and he handles them both very well. This is a perfect light read for anyone who wants to take themselves into another world. My only criticism of it is that it seems to be written towards a screenplay format...so the movie shouldn't be far behind. It would have been nice if it had more of a literary feel. But that is a minor complaint. Mount your steed and charge into this book with abandon. You won't be sorry.
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By A Customer on December 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I haven't read a Crichton book in a while but had seen many of the movies made from his previous novels. And reading this book I felt like I was reading a future screenplay for "Timeline" the movie. The book had incredible (actually impossible) feats of strength and daring by 20th century characters in 14th Century France. Many times I felt that if this were true to form the people would most certainly be dead...but miraculously they survive...again and again and again and again. On a more positive note, the book moves along at a good clip and the science behind the technology involved in transporting the characters back to 14th century France was intriguing. All in all I would say that this is a fun book to read but not a mind boggling novel that keeps you thinking after your done. It is pretty much mindless fun with unusual science.
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Format: Hardcover
The application of the Quantum Physics theories was fascinating with its contrasts of "then" and "now".The time of knighthood sounded about as raw as it probably was! The characters were larger than life but also believably vulnerable and imperfect.(I wondered who his models were?)I couldn't stop reading and when I finished I felt like I had been through a Raiders of the Lost Ark experience!
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