Invictus by Ryan Graudin

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Invictus by Ryan Graudin

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Fab mix of history and sci-fi in this wonderfully complex yet readable story of time travel and a boy born outside time itself.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 465 Date: September 2017
Publisher: Orion
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1510102868

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It's the 24th century and human beings have cracked the secret of time travel. Farway Gaius McCarthy is 17 and dreams of following in his mother's footsteps as a Recorder for the Corps of Central Time Travellers. If he succeeds, he is determined to track down Empra, who disappeared on a mission when her son was just 7. But Farway tanks his final exam and his ambitions seem crushed. He's given another chance by Lux, a black marketeer who employs teams of rogue time travellers to plunder the past of its artifacts - artifacts that fetch fortunes in credits in the Central Time world.

Farway, along with Historian Imogen, Engineer Gram and Medic Priya, are on such a plunder mission when they encounter Eliot, herself on a mission to save the multiverse - because Central Time isn't alone in creation - from a time-gobbling entity called the Fade. Farway, who was born outside time itself, is the key to everything. But how? And can his team put things right?

We last saw Ryan Graudin in her alternate history sequence, Wolf by Wolf, in which the Nazis have won WWII. Invictus is entirely different proposition - a time-travelling blend of sci-fi and history. It's a big book and it's a long read, too. Often, these epic stories full of action sequences fly by and you read them in what feels like an instant. But Invictus isn't like that. It's a complicated read with a narrative that needs to be concentrated on, many alternating points of view, and a time-travelling world that is clever enough to require your full attention. I really liked this about it - Invictus makes you want to rush through it but is solid and challenging enough to stop you doing just that. There's a mystery to solve and an existential enemy to defeat but neither takes precedence over the other. And there's a wonderful strand of humour running through the whole thing. I won't spoil any jokes for you, though.

Graudin's future world is wonderfully described. Full of technological invention, citizens of future Rome all thirst for past authenticity. And the historical world also comes to life in truly vivid, perfectly realised scenes. I'm not very good at spotting plot holes and contradictions in time travel stories - easily confused, me, dontchaknow - but the premise and set-up seemed completely coherent and I didn't see anything obviously questionable. Each cast member is fully-rounded, imperfect and interesting - and diverse.

Honestly, I really can't find even a nit to pick in Invictus. There are some romantic subplots which didn't interest me at all but I'm not the romantic type and they didn't irritate me or take over the story. I'm sure they'll provide depth and flavour for those who do like some romance in their adventures.

If epic adventure, fabulous settings and thoughtful worldbuilding are your things, you're going to love Invictus.

Time and parallel worlds are also explored to great effect in the excellent Parallel by Lauren Miller.

Buy Invictus by Ryan Graudin at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Invictus by Ryan Graudin at

Buy Invictus by Ryan Graudin at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Invictus by Ryan Graudin at


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