The Ivanhoe Gambit by Simon Hawke

The Time Wars series, beginning with this, the first book, is an intricate series involving time travel, psychotic villains, and intricate plots to disrupt the timestream, thus creating an alternate universe.

The basic premise is this. Sometime in the 25th century time travel was discovered. The powers that be decided to use this science for their own purposes, and created a division of the armed services, specifically with the goal of sending trained soldiers back in time to fight in armies of the past. The result of their performance was then used to determine the outcome of disagreements between countries of the present, rather than having them fight and destroy property and planet in said present.

The interesting thing is that in each of the series, the story centers around a "fictional" tale, only in the terms of the novel, the "fictional" characters were actually real persons in the past. Take for instance this one. The story centers around an nefarious plot by one person from the future, an Observer (a high-ranking official in the Time Forces), to take over as Richard III, king of England in the late 12th century, and live out his life. By doing this though, he would create the ever looming time split, because the real Richard died in battle.

Enter the Time Commandos. They go back in time and infiltrate the time line posing as Ivanhoe and Robin Hood and Little John, all of whom we take for granted as fiction, but who in terms of the series, were actually real people.

The main characters from the start are Lucas Priest and Finn Delaney, respectively "Sir Wilfred Ivanhoe" and "Little John" of Robin Hood's clan. These two and two fellow soldiers must somehow find and stop the renegade Observer. Along the way, they encounter a woman posing as a male knight, Andre de la Croix, who also becomes somewhat of an ally.

I rate the first book 8 stars.


23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese

If you don't believe in a Hell or some sort of eternal damnation in the afterlife, I doubt you will even take this book at face value. It is a preposterous idea, after all, that one could even experience Hell without having to die first. And the author didn't experience a typical life after death experience of the tye you hear about on the fringe radio shows like George Noory and Art Bell.

Rather, he was just asleep, on a normal night, when he found himself transferred from the present life to a cell with huge monsters. From the pain and terror he experiences there, to his brief passage by the lake of fire, what he later estimates to be the 23 minutes he spent there is an experience that is very disturbing.

Due to the fact that he was in bed prior to this gives creedence to the idea that he dreamed it all, although he on more than one occasion in the testimony portion claims it was not a dream. I personally can't say whether or not he dreamed it or not. Ron Mays, an expert on the subject makes a clear case for it being false in a review I read on Barnes and Noble. True or not, it is as scary a description as anything Stephen King could dream up.

If you are going to read it, bear in mind that only the first ¼ of the book is about his experience. The rest is devoted to his adventures in trying to get the story out. This part is fairly boring, unless you are interested in that kind of thing.

Overall I'd say the book rates about 5 stars.


Mr. Monk in Outer Space by Lee Goldberg

The most recent book, at least until a little later this month, is by far the best one I've read in this series. No, our hero does not actually go into outer space here. Instead he finds himself in the baffling world of what are best described as Trekkies, although in this case, it is a fictional TV series, and not actually Star Trek fans.

Taken as a whole, the mystery and its solution are extremely satisfying, although at the outset, if one were a Trekkie, they might be offended at the cavalier way the author denigrates them. Given the fact that logic is the guiding factor of Monk, it is understandable, though, that he would find the behavior of the obsessive fans peculiar.

I still don't that the author is as good a novel writer as he is a scriptwriter (I mentioned he does scripts for the TV show, didn't I?), but then I'm not reading these books for a good well-written prose, I'm reading them because I like the TV show.

Rate this one 6½ stars.

Behind (Again)

Gotta write several reviews over the next few days. Once again I'm behind on my updates, and have been too busy to even think about them. I'll do one a day over the next few days and catch up.