Monday, 20 July 2015

The Time Travelling Historical Adventure Novel That Had Me Hooked

A time-travelling, action adventure historical novel might sound like a lot to digest in one sitting, but Time and Time Again by Ben Elton had me hooked for so many reasons right from the very beginning. It's no secret that I'm a big fan of historical novels and being the history geek that I am I really enjoyed journeying back in time with this novel. It always intrigues me when a well known author from one genre crosses into another. For an author who is predominantly known for books which touch on popular culture and current social trends Ben Elton is a fantastic historical fiction (and I guess we should say adventure) writer.

Set in 2024 ex-soldier Hugh Stanton has been chosen by an elite and top secret organisation, whose origins lie with Sir Issac Newton, to travel back in time and prevent a major historical event from happening. If he can succeed, the years proceeding 1914 should change the course of history and the world from that moment forward. Stopping the Great War from happening will not only save millions of lives and prevent some of the strongest and smartest of Europe's men from going to war but also prevent a hundred years of bloodshed on Earth thereafter.

Hugh Stanton is chosen for the mission not only for his skills and expertise as a soldier, but after tragically losing his wife and children in a car accident two years prior, he has nothing else to live for. Throughout his mission Hugh must make many decisions whether to save lives or take them for the good of future humanity. The trouble is if Hugh completes his mission, no one will know just how the next one hundred years of civilisation will progress.

The character of Hugh Stanton was one that I really enjoyed throughout the novel. Despite losing his family and being prepared to live out the rest of his existence in misery instead Hugh tries to make the future at least a better place. In action and crime novels the character of the broken man, brought down by demons of some kind, always seems to be a little one dimensional whereas Hugh seemed much more complex as a person. He wasn't defined by his grief although it was something that he carried with him and there were times when he still had to wrestle with his feelings.

Fans of historical fiction will enjoy the world that Ben Elton has brought to life but it was the action packed plot that had me speeding through its pages. Elton manages to strike the right balance between story and action, plot and character development so that I never felt like this novel was too much - there was romance, history and adventure within its pages which all balanced perfectly and to top it all off the ending was entirely unexpected.

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