Empire of Time (New Pompeii) by Daniel Godfrey
|Empire of Time (New Pompeii) by Daniel Godfrey|
|Category: Science Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: This second in series ramps up the tension wonderfully as Ancient Romans co-exist with a 21st century world.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: June 2017|
|Publisher: Titan Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Warning: Spoilers for Book 1 from the beginning.
The experiment to study Ancient Romans by transporting them through time to a new Pompeii just before the disaster hits the old one sounded great in theory. The practice has been going on for years now, but the modern and old worlds living alongside each other in an uneasy peace. Scientist Nick Houghton only ever wanted to live within the experiment out of curiosity but it's more dangerous than he ever dreamt. Since he arrived, he's watched the Romans kill the inventors of the machine that saved them. Nick, or Decimus Horatius Pullus to give him his Roman name, is the only non-Roman living in New Pompeii and that's not a safe position or location in which to live.
Daniel Godfrey plays with our perceptions and our imaginations as he ramps up the excitement for this, the second of his New Pompeii series. There are enough nicely paced recaps of New Pompeii - Book 1 - to aid memories without making this second book a stand-alone. There again it would be a shame to miss out on the set up novel so that doesn't really matter.
This time out we see Nick living more on the edge in New Pompeii as the real threat of death creeps closer to his door. Ancient Romans had the ability to out-Machiavelli Machiavelli and moving them through time to the 21st century hasn't blunted their deviousness nor their weaponry.
Daniel has put a lot of thought into this series as well as research. The inner workings, manipulations and politics of a city out of its time is fascinating. There's not just the scramble for power (and – a warning for the squeamish – high/inventively demised body count) but the day-to-day issues. For instance, the Romans trade their famed garum (cookery fish paste) with modern Italy, yet how can modern Italy justify trading a city based on slavery and comparatively barbaric practices or even hosting such a place within their own nation?
The format of the book also continues to intrigue me and proves Daniel to be somewhat devious himself. The chapters continue to alternate between New Pompeii and the outside world. For instance, when outside NP, our hero is referred to as Nick and then Pullus within NP. The obvious reason for this is that it helps identify where we are. This time we realise there's a second reason; a reason that made me whoop with delight. (It's ok – I was alone at the time.)
Daniel is also as adept at playing with time as Nick's dead colleagues and the NovusPart (the Novus Particles machine that started all this). We're made to think for ourselves as we ponder the delicious puzzle concerning where adjoining chapters are in the chronology. We gradually find out so those opposed to ruptured novel time lines needn't worry, it's just another added layer of glee while we await the outcome.
As we move through the story more things that we thought were throw away pieces suddenly prove cogent to the plot and make more sense, including some wonderfully Stephen Baxter-like time paradigms and shocks. (If you think the use of the Sybil is clever when it surfaces and you extrapolate the possible usage, you just wait.)
The thought of Ancient Romans in the next town isn't something I used to think about. It's now becoming more and more scary, let alone including the dilemma that a time teleportation device on the loose causes; yet it makes brilliant fiction. This is SF of the no-thrills-barred variety, finishing with a literary bang and setting our imaginations up for Book 3 in 2018.
(Thank you, Titan Books, for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: Do please start with the aforementioned New Pompeii. If you're already following the series and fancy seeing what else is out there in current sci-fi, we also highly recommend New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson.
You can read more book reviews or buy Empire of Time (New Pompeii) by Daniel Godfrey at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Empire of Time (New Pompeii) by Daniel Godfrey at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.