Using the same format of the first novel, in Traveller Probo you’re thrown right back into action from the first page. You find yourself catapulted 1000 years in New Zealand’s past. If you’ve ever visited it’s not hard to imagine what the landscape would have been like, from the humidity to the foliage, but even if you haven’t, Shackleford paints a vivid picture of what you would see. He makes it easy to imagine the almost voyeuristic nature of spying on an unsuspecting village and its folk, while seeing things from a modern point of view.
For a book based on the aspect of time travel, its research into historical facts is apparent. You can see a real labour of love as gone into researching the different time periods. But where normally in a historical fiction, you only have one time period painted for you, the author has undertaken the burdening task of weaving a story that contains several different civilisations history, Saxon, Maori, Byzantine and Slovak Rus. Although all in the same period of time the differences between them are a vast gulf. You have the tribal, barbaric and cannibalistic tendencies of the Maori. The battle between Christianity and the old gods of Saxon England. Then there is the stark contrast of the trade routes between the then known world and the wealth and opulence of Constantinople. But you’re not left wondering where in time you are, each place is richly described.
There is a strong moral sense to the book as well. To quote a line from Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park, “… scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Just because the technology exists should man undertake time travel. There is an argument for and against.
Think of the knowledge you could garner. Most of history is written by the conqueror. From archaeology we can glean what life would have been like for our ancestors but to actually see what their day-to-day lives would have been like. The constant threat of attack, murder, and rape of themselves and their loved ones. What secrets could they possess on herbal remedies that are overlooked because of science and mans greed.
But then we need to think of the consequences and impact we could have by visiting our ancestors. And this is where the paradox theories take over. If we made available modern medicines to cure every day ailments, would our interference have devastating effect on our future? Then we have the grandfather paradox, if we saved a life that shouldn’t have been or caused the death of a forebear, would we cease to exist or does that present now become our future? Or do our interactions not affect what has already happened? How would we possibly now if it did? I’ll stop there before an ensuing migraine begins, but the questions and arguments are endless.
Although the book touches on these dilemmas it doesn’t turn into a lecture of these paradoxes. That is left to the reader to debate.
Traveller Probo is a lengthy 565 pages, that allows for the descriptive narration of each period. The story flows from page to page and doesn’t lose your interest. I personally prefer a book of length; it feels like I’m getting my monies worth. The Word Whisperer
I thoroughly enjoyed Traveller Probo and I’m looking forward to seeing where in history we’ll be visiting the last of the trilogy. I want to take this opportunity to thank the author for an ARC of his book to review. The Word Whisperer
VERDICT: 4****/5 Historical fiction mixed with sci-fi and adventure. A captivating and thought provoking read. Lovers of Michael Crichton and Bernard Cornwell do not want to miss out on this perfectly balanced combination. The Word Whisperer