Series: Time Salvager #1
Published by: Tor
ISBN 13: 9780765377180
Published: July 2015
Format reviewed: eVersion from Publisher
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Related Reviews: Time Siege (Time Salvager #2) (coming soon)
Named for the planets they originated from, we first meet James Griffin-Mars when he’s still a highly-ranked time traveller called a chronman. He’s not coping too well, stuck in a job with many years left on his contract, even though the highly-stressful job often kills the employees well within that time frame.
Cold and good at his job, James usually has no trouble dropping into past times to retrieve whatever it is he’s been ordered to bring back to his current time, whether it’s specific items as requested by high paying clients, or things that can be used to slightly extend the power resources of their current climate. They’re fighting a losing battle though – the worlds are in dire health and everything around them is failing. It’s no surprise that James has a drinking problem.
James has few friends – almost zero, in fact. His handler Smitt is the closest he’s got, and they’ve stuck together for a long time. When a high level job comes through that few chronman are equipped to handle, James and Smitt are sought out for it. It seems risky, poorly explained, slightly confusing… but it holds a golden ticket to an end to their contract, and they may even get to go to one of the nice invite-only planets, which means they can escape the grunge. If only they can complete this one mission.
On this trip, he happens to both catch the eye, and notice, a scientist by the name of Elise. Coming from such a depressing time he is wonderous at her happy and hopeful nature, her sparkling eyes, and her purity. She’s sassy and isn’t impressed by him in general (a change from his normal life, though he is indeed in hiding whilst in her time… this however remains throughout the book, and is something he finds refreshing.)
And from here, things get a whole lot more tricky.
I’ve enjoyed Chu’s writing previously and this is no different. The characters are endearing, and as a friend commented when she saw that I was reading it, this has a story that stays with you if you put the book down for any reason. The plot and action scenes flow well that you don’t get exhausted by all the action but at the same time there aren’t any dead bits either.
Chu’s mastery with world building really shows in this book. You seamlessly understand their technology, the changes between worlds and times, and what restrictions and boons they all have – not an easy task.
What works best though is the ending. Just when you think well, this is it, I’m satisfied with how the plot and characters have all tied things together, I can finally relax and digest this novel… Chu leaves us with an ending that makes it impossible not to pick up the next book in the series immediately to see what happens next. Very, very well played, Chu.