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markk

markk

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The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox
Vanda Krefft
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Thomas L. Whigham
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The best entry in the TimeWars series

The Pimpernel Plot - Simon Hawke

 

I should start this review with some context: this is the first volume of the TimeWars series I read. When I first encountered a copy back in 1987, I found it to be an enjoyable time travel adventure, even though I didn't understand all of the nuances of the narrative (which is usually the case when beginning a series in the middle). A couple of years ago, I came across a used copy and decided to pick it up and see how it measured up to my nostalgia-tinged memories of it. Not only did I have a better basis by which to judge it, I had read the other volumes and have a more comprehensive understanding of the series as a whole.

 

It is on that basis that I can state that this is the best of the series. The premise of the "TimeWars" is twofold: that time travel becomes practical enough in the future to be employed to arbitrate international disputes, and that the characters from some of the greatest novels in Western literature were actual historical figures. By the third volume Simon Hawke had established this world and his main characters, giving himself the luxury to focus more on the plot. Here the "time commandos" Lucas Priest, Finn Delaney, and Andre Cross, must fix the disruption caused when a soldier from the future causes an incident that leads to the death of Sir Percy Blakeney, just as he is starting his adventures as the Scarlet Pimpernel. The team's efforts to keep history on track are complicated by the fact that an agent from a previous operation interferes with their efforts in an apparent attempt at revenge for past humiliations. It makes for an entertaining adventure, one with a great twist at the end that caps off an enjoyable novel. It's unfortunate that the later novels, while enjoyable, don't quite measure up to this one, but then with this one Hawke gave himself a difficult act to follow.