Brought to you by OBS reviewer Scott
I have to admit that I’m a huge fan of time travel, and alternate Earth stories; and of Steampunk literature and temporal mathematics specifically. It was a delightful and pleasant surprise to see Beth Bernobich weave all these elements in a twisting and turning mystery novel, The Time Roads.
The story is told from the perspective of the Queen of ́Éire, an Ireland likened to the Victorian era of England, and her confidant, Commander Aidrean Ó Deághaidh and the plots and subterfuge that leads up to and threatens the formation of the Union of Nations. The Anglians, Prussians, and other factions make up the folds in the tapestry of this mystery, and some have found the ultimate weapon. -time itself.
The characterization was very well handled, each character sharing their hopes dreams and desires with the reader. The characters were well rounded, well thought out, and each plays a role at some time or another in the story (pun intended). The mystery wends and sways from political, to mathematical, to philosophical to intimate encounters and discussions that propel it towards the conclusion of the book.
The mathematics in the book is by no means technical and accessible to the readers as it presents it in almost a mystical and ungodly force. The “temporal mechanics” of the novel, however, are flashforwards and retro-continuity that adds an interesting twist to the overall mystery that comprises the novel.
Bernobich’s writing starts off slow and builds to a fevered pitch towards the end. At no point did my suspension of belief get derailed as I read the novel. Her fractured alternate history and nations are based between the years 1897 to 1914 with all the calamity leading up to what would be “our” World War I. Overall the story immerses the reader laying out the groundwork at the beginning of the novel and adding layer upon layer of intrigue until the novels conclusion. There is a full sense of closure in the book although it is left open ended.
Blend all of this with a liberal amount of anachronisms (such as advanced calculating machines, far removed from Babbage, and working time machines, and mathematics a little too advanced for the era, and you have the makings of a wonderful tour through an Earth that might have been. Overall it is a light read with lots packed in for the reader to pontificate about).
Fans of David Koontz’s Lightning, Joe Haldeman’s Forever War and alternate history prose will definitely appreciate this book. Steampunk enthusiasts will also find the neo-Victorian tale to be as graceful and free flowing as the roads of time themselves.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*