Three Seas Forum

the archives

dusted off in read-only

  •  

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers posted 23 March 2005 in ReviewsThe Anubis Gates by Tim Powers by Alric, Auditor

I've finished another book that I thought worthy of a full review. This book isn't new, and it isn't specifically a classic. Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates, published in December 1983, winner of the 1984 Philip K. Dick award, is a book that crosses many genres blended together in a way only Powers could manage.

London, early 1800's, a mysterious duo with Egyptian ties attempt a desparate spell to reopen The Anubis Gates in order to strengthen magic and allow a flow across time. The spell goes amiss, but something happens. Holes have been punched through time.

Technically, this book is called a time travel novel, but it really is so much more. Powers, an early pioneer of the Steam Punk style, blends action, adventure, secret history, science, fantasy, mystery, suspense and horror to create a truly unique novel. The players are an Egyptian sorceror, a disfigured clown, a body-switching "werewolf", a brain-washed Lord Byron, Samuel Coleridge, a young woman thought to be a young man, and the primary hero, Professor Brendan Doyle.

The bulk of this story takes place in London of 1810/11, though parts take place in "modern" times. This is a quick-paced novel, that moves the reader into surprising directions. The writing is crisp, the ideas are creative and wonderfully realized. The characters are interesting and intriguing. This is a story of risks, mistakes, luck, terror and quick changes in fortune. Powers is truly gifted in the way he plots his novels, how the many different ideas, directions, characters blend together in an integrated whole.

The beauty of this novel is that no one is ever entirely certain of what is going on. The characters make incorrect judgements of situations and other characters that lead them to actions and reponses that are surprising and completely entertaining. As the reader, you're never entirely certain of what will happen next even as you're aware of the mistakes the characters are making.

While the novel was not exactly what I expected, I definitely recommend The Anubis Gates to anyone and everyone who might be interested in something different... even if you've sworn to never read a time travel novel. This book really has something for everyone... action, magic, suspense, tragedy, mystery, loss, love, secret history, humor, mythical characters, real characters. This novel, along with Powers later novel, Last Call, really need to make onto your "If I were stranded on a Desert Island" list. Thankfully, the book was rereleased in 1997 and should be generally available.

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers view post


  •  

The Three Seas Forum archives are hosted and maintained courtesy of Jack Brown