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Sci-Fi Review – A Trail Through Time

A Trail Through Time by Jody Taylor

Review by Cyndi J. (cyndij)


This is Jodi Taylor’s fourth entry in the Chronicles of St Mary’s, an institute whose mission is to travel back in time and observe history. There are some spoilers for previous novels, so you have been warned. A new reader should start with the beginning, JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER, which I reviewed here.

It is pretty much non-stop running for our two heroes, Max and Leon.  We are firmly into alternate timeline territory  now.  Max (let’s call her Max1) has arrived in a timeline where she (Max2) died and Leon lived, and now suddenly there’s Max1 – almost but not quite the same person. Leon and Max are both appalled but ecstatic and they plan on living happily and quietly ever after. We know that ain’t gonna happen, not in this book.

Taylor introduces the Time Police, a paramilitary group created by treaty in this new timeline after the secret of time travel escaped. World governments seized on the opportunity to change history in their favor, and (according to Leon) chaos ensued, with entire countries flickering in and out of existence.

But now the Time Police are after Max, so Max and Leon spend quite a lot of time leaping from place to place trying to avoid them. We experience some good vignettes of history, like London’s Frost Fair.  I can’t really get into the pursuit reasons without major spoilers for this book, so I’ll  leave it at that.  It’s breakneck action for quite a long time.

They finally go to ground at St Mary’s, where Max1 Is going to have to reconcile the differences between her and Max2.  It all comes to a conclusion with a huge climatic battle between the residents of St Mary’s and the Time Police, in which the good guys practically blow up St Mary’s.  It’s grim but as usual there are also some funny scenes in it, complete with snappy dialogue.

I enjoyed seeing some characters that I didn’t expect. I thought Joe’s last scene was totally heartless – I wish I thought Taylor would return to that someday so we’d know what happened.  Loved the little bits of history we get to know as Max and Leon travel.

Taylor never pretended to try and work out the logical problems with her time travel story.  It’s amusing enough that I’m willing to go with her plots and not think much about inconsistencies. However, in the very first book it’s stated that it is impossible to change history, because History will actively defend itself even if that means killing  you in the process. We saw examples. We started to see it falter in the second book, and now it’s just gone. I can see from the trial scene why it was necessary for Max1 to be in that particular timeline. But it’s getting harder for my logical side to ignore the discrepancies, although I’m still enjoying the story. Will we find out in later books why history can be changed? I hope so. Number 5 is on my to-be-read list.



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