Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Book Review - The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers

Title:  The Anubis Gates
Author:  Tim Powers
Genre:  Science Fiction
Rating:  3.75 out of 5 body-snatching werewolves

The cover of The Anubis Gates touts Powers' novel as a "classic of time travel".  Between this statement and the less-than-subtle inclusion of Egyptian themes, I became hooked and brought the book home.  Does it measure up to expectations?  Yes and no.

The Anubis Gates follows the life of Brendan Doyle as he meets up with an eccentric millionaire and travels back to 1810 to watch a speech made by author/poet Samuel Coleridge.  In so doing, Doyle gets involved with bands of murderous street beggars and ancient Egyptian sorcerers.

In short, The Anubis Gates is so packed to the brim with science fiction and fantasy elements that Powers is sometimes unable to juggle them all well.  My favorite thing about time travel stories is how the characters' muddling in the past affects their present.  And although this can be seen by the end of the book, I was less than impressed with the "time" element for most of it.  The main character time traveled, yes, but then the novel seemed to switch over to simple misadventures in 19th century London.  Instead of going heavy into time travel, Powers introduces theories such as Egyptian sorcery, cloning, and body-snatching werewolves.

Throughout all of these crazy plot points, the character of Brendan Doyle develops in a mostly predictable pattern (preoccupied academic learns that it is better to live life rather than study it) and the villains just don't feel evil enough.

In reading The Anubis Gates, I was certain that I was going to give it a rating of 3 or under.  However, in the end, I was pleased with how all of the seemingly disjointed SFF elements were brought together.  Some of the plot points were predictable, but that didn't make them any less fun to read about.  Ultimately, I couldn't decide on either a 3.5 or a 4 rating for this one, so I averaged them.

Is The Anubis Gates an epic knock-your-socks-off time travel adventure?  Not quite.  Although a fun read, there were too many ideas to sift through to make any one shine.  This one may or may not be worth the time, depending on what you are expecting.

3.75 out of 5 body-snatching werewolves

1 comment:

  1. Interesting review. I had picked this up a while ago because the title caught my eye, and the book just didn't resonate with me. Still love the title, though. :)