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Timeline Mass Market Paperback – October 24, 2000
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Although I was a fan of this book overall, there were still some ways that I thought it could have been improved. One way this could have been done would have been by developing the characters more. It felt like, throughout the book, more and more characters kept getting introduced that contained a possible personal connection for the reader. This was interesting, but it allowed little room for any of the characters to become complex or for the reader to deeply connect with them. I feel that this connection is an important part of a novel because it makes the story more emotional and less confusing for the reader. Also, I would have liked for Crichton to develop more of a story around the people back in the regular world, because the little contrast that was provided made it more entertaining to read. I also think that putting more emphasis on the differences between the medieval world and the current world would make the reader more able to connect the story to their life and keep reading more.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Much better than the movie.