cover image The Time Roads

The Time Roads

Beth Bernobich. Tor, $15.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3125-0

Áine Lasairíona Devereaux is the young Queen of Éire, a intricately detailed steam-punk version of Ireland at the beginning of the 20th century. Facing assassination attempts from Anglian rebels, Áine funds the research of the scientist Breandan Ó Cuilinn, who attempts to send objects into the future. Aidrean Ó Deághaidh, police officer and the Queen’s trusted bodyguard, investigates murders of mathematicians at Éire’s largest university—until suddenly, after the explosion of Ó Cuilinn’s airship, the crimes never happened at all. Bernobich (the River of Souls trilogy) focuses on political machinations and factional trickery in this ambitious but flawed novel, in which the future of Europe depends on whether the Queen and Ó Deághaidh can handle the implications of the time travel technology as they work to avert a continent-wide war. Bernobich’s depth of world-building and richness of setting are splendid, but the shifting time lines are confusing and poorly explained, and the characters are two-dimensional and predictable to the point of banality. A plethora of explosions fails to inject emotional suspense, although the plotting and counterplotting between nations provide some satisfaction. Agent: Vaughne Lee Hansen, Virginia Kidd Agency. (Oct.)