Alexandria, Gregory Ness

Alexandria, Gregory Ness

Alexandria (The Sword of Agrippa Book 2)

Following their momentous discovery of the mysterious temple, Agrippa and Samia are working to unlock its mysteries, hampered by a series of elaborate mechanical lockouts. Their prize may well be worth any cost; the wisdom of the legendary Library of the Ages may be among the treasures. Two thousand years and more into the future, Roy Swanson’s research into dreams is attracting more and more attention, even as the world descends further into religious mania and a deep-rooted fear of science. Whether or not Roy will be able to solve the mysteries his research is throwing up before American money closes it down for good is another question entirely.

This second in the Sword of Agrippa series, Alexandria, follows the protagonists from the first novel, Agrippa and Samia, in the heyday of Roman Egypt, along with cameos of Roy Swanson and his research into dreams in an increasingly anti-science close-present. While I found that the proposed link between survivors of Atlantis and several of the ancient pantheons was an interesting twist on the story, I didn’t find that there was a great deal of movement, or resolution, in this book. Most of the questions lying open in the plotlines from the first novel are still open at the close of the second, so while the story was in itself quite enjoyable, there was no real feeling of closure of any of the story arcs. In addition, as with the first novel, I can’t help but feel that a strong copy-edit would help this book do justice to the originality of its plot. Overall, while this series is certainly worth the read, it would benefit hugely from some judicious tuning.

Returning, J T McDaniel

Returning, J T McDaniel

Returning

Returning is the story of the reality behind the Atlantis legends, the tale of the explorers and colonists who left Barzak aboard three great starships to travel and colonise, using a wormhole drive that takes the ships beyond time. Aboard the Warrior, the passage between systems is instantaneous. To the rest of the galaxy, hundreds of years pass. Captain Kimewe Romiwero has left everything irrevocably behind to lead her crew; when they finally turn for home, some fifteen ship-years later, over 86,000 years have passed, and Earth is a very different place – and in desperate need of something to aspire to.

Author J. T. McDaniel has crafted an engrossing story, combining alt-history and sci-fi dystopia with a realism that seems chillingly plausible. I found the idea of an FTL drive that travels point to point, taking the ship effectively outside time, to be a particularly nice twist to the story, and the segments of the book set on Earth were all too possible in the current political environment. There was a slight tendency to ‘tell’ information throughout the book, but overall it wasn’t too overdone, and the various plotlines were well-paced. All in all I found this a thoroughly enjoyable read, definitely recommended for any alt-history or sci-fi enthusiasts.