Time Siege (Time-Salvager # 2) by Wesley Chu (book review).

September 27, 2016 | By | Reply More

‘Time Siege’ is Wesley Chu’s sequel to ‘Time Salvager’, which I reviewed here earlier in the year. It has another beautifully atmospheric cover depicting the ruins of a future Earth where the cities, New York in particular in this book, are overwhelmed by pollution, rampant vegetation and savage tribes. The action follows on some months later from the previous volume and we find that ex-ChronMan James Griffin-Mars is still hiding among the Elfreth, a tribe that is now homeless after being decimated by James’ former employers, ChronoCom, in an attack that they assume has left James for dead. The aim of ChronoCom and its corporate partner Valta is to capture Elise Kim, the biologist that James illegally rescued from the past. We don’t know their motivation at the beginning of the book but it soon becomes clear that they are willing to expend a huge amount of resources in order to capture her.

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There’s plenty of action and adventure, again in this volume, as James, Elise and the Elfreth travel and hide among the ruined cities and make their way to Manhattan. James, meanwhile, makes side trips in their cannibalised spaceship to round up external help to continue their mission to evade capture and cure the plague that has brought Earth’s ecosystem to its knees.

There are some great plays on words, too, among the various tribes whose vocabulary has diverged from the norm and who have adopted all kinds of strange titles and forms of address. On this basis, you can breeze through the book and enjoy a fun and entertaining read.

The problem I found that interrupts the flow of what otherwise might be a great adventure is the same problem of character motivation and needless repetition that dogged the first book. We keep being told the same things about how people are feeling and what they might have done or should have done, sometime multiple times phrased slightly differently in the space of a couple of paragraphs. James Griffin-Mars is as unlikeable as he was in the first book and spends much of his time hallucinating about dead people, some of whom aren’t actually dead anymore, and bemoaning his lot in life. Elise does lots of angsting about her responsibilities and worrying about James.

The action ramps up as the plot continues and Valta become more desperate to get their hands Elise Kim, throwing more and more resources into their invasion of Manhattan and their wanton slaughter of the local tribes. Their leader, Senior Securitate Kao, is an archetypal evil leader who seemingly has no thought or feeling for human life and carries out summary executions and massacres without a twinge of conscience. Although her character makes her a definite focal point for the enemy, she comes across as rather one-dimensional, driven by greed and self-interest and completely lacking in humanity.

Other characters make a return and prove to be more interesting in their development, notably former ChronoCom High Auditor Levin, disgraced and imprisoned and now working against his former organisation. His rather stiff demeanour is tempered by his need to do what is right, whichever side of the hunt that puts him on.

The time salvaging that featured in the first volume fades somewhat into the background in this novel due to James Griffin-Mars’ sickness and inability to carry out more time jumps. There is still a bit of time jumping and discussion of dead time-lines, but not as much of the interesting ramifications that were explored in the first book.

We’re left on a cliff-hanger at the end of this book and the developments in the last few chapters are well-written and dramatic, ramping up the tension. The stakes and the scale are getting bigger and looks like there is plenty more to see in the next volume.

Gareth D. Jones

September 2016

(pub: TOR/Forge. 382 page paperback. Price: $25.99 (US), $35.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-7754-8)

check out website: www.tor-forge.com

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Category: Books, Scifi

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