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Time's Divide Cover

Rysa Walker brings her Chronos Files series to a brilliantly crafted conclusion in Time’s Divide. Even as Kate and her comrades must traverse a tightrope of tightly timed challenges so Ms. Walker walks that fine line between bringing a series to a clear conclusion or artificially wrapping everything in a nice bow. Ms. Walker consistently chooses an organic realism to her characters, world and storyline over perfect people and perfectly controlled circumstances. While clearly centered in the speculative fiction world, she follows that grand tradition of asking – what if this (time travel) were true in our messy world; what would it be like? She explores the possibilities rather than trying to nail down all of the answers which, of course, makes for a far richer story; she is particularly good at bringing to life unintended consequences.

[Full disclosure: I received an advanced review copy on Netgalley for an honest review.] Also, note that there are spoiler’s below for any who haven’t read Timebound or Time’s Edge yet. Read those two before Time’s Divide (and this review).

Rysa Walker

Rysa Walker

In Time’s Divide, we are more fully introduced to the Fifth Column, Cyrist insiders that don’t support the Culling, dive into the plan to stop the Cyrist on two fronts – stopping the Culling and stop time traveling by getting the Chronos keys. This would be relatively easy if your enemy couldn’t also time travel. There would still be unintended consequences from all of the ripples of changes they couldn’t anticipate. So, you need to be sneaky and pull off near-simultaneous missions with fewer resources and less ruthlessness than your enemy (because you don’t want to become like the enemy). You also need to be specific and as laser focused as possible due to said unintended consequence.

So what do I love about Time’s Divide?

  • It brings the series to a good conclusion with a clear end to the dramatic “time war” while being an organic end where everything isn’t wrapped up in a neat bow. Challenges continue, bad guys abound and tough decisions need to be made but on a more reasonable human scale. You know, like real life.
  • It brings a few new folks and changes to existing ones and relationships. The deeper dive into the Fifth Column, and its leadership demonstrate a mixed, human organization, not a perfect one.
  • I’m glad that “regular” yet awkward stuff happens such as the lunch with Pru and Deborah, the personality clashes of Max and Kate and that even Kate needs her sleep.
  • It has good multi-dimensional characters who have messy lives and relationships.
  • I’m delighted that Kiernan and Kate avoid killing in cold blood, even diabolical people. It may not have the clear tie to good consequences as the staying of Bilbo’s hand and his pity saved the day in Lord of the Rings, but it clearly preserved their character and, hence, their ability to live well after the “time war.”
  • While there are some surprises in the story, they too are organic – they are compatible with what has gone before not some huge shift.
  • I love the adroitly handled time puzzles. The two most frequent mistakes embedding time travel in a story is to ignore the conundrums or to blithely explain them away. Ms. Walker avoids both. I am particularly glad that Ms. Walker was comfortable enough to raise time traveling questions without feeling that she had to answer them all. She doesn’t just ignore the questions; there’s a healthy amount of time travel analysis and explication (mostly through dialog), but limits are recognized.
  • She clearly demonstrated our inadequacy of playing God. We cannot micromanage history. The law of unintended consequences is too strong. As much as we want to fix things, the cure is often worse than the problem. Yes there are times when we must intervene, but that needs to be rare and focused.
  • I love the family get-together at the end.

Of what am I less fond? Very little. I think religion, not just the false Cyrist creed, gets a bit of a bad rap in the novels. Ms. Walker seems to paint it all with the same brush. She’s not belligerent, but it is presented as a very human activity that may be more than opium for the masses but not much more. As a Christian, I believe that’s incorrect, but from a pure novel perspective, it doesn’t overly impact the story.

Since I read this prior to publishing, I didn’t have an opportunity to listen to Kate Rudd’s performance of the audiobook, but given she’s one of my favorite narrotors and having heard her already fabulous performance of Timebound, I’ll go out on a limb and recommend it.

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Hear Rysa Walker on The Chronos Files

Go here for the full interview, including her take on publishing with Amazon.

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So clearly the theme here is an excellent YA story that is neither Disney nor Walking Dead. It nicely reflects humans and our foibles, both individual and corporate. It does a beautiful job of building that story arc across the three novels and explores the theme of time travel better than most. I highly comment Time’s Divide for your reading pleasure.

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