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The Time Engine: The Fourth Book of the Moonworlds Saga    by Sean McMullen order for
Time Engine
by Sean McMullen
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2009 (2009)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Time Engine follows Voidfarer as the fourth book in Sean McMullen's satirical Moonworlds Saga, reminiscent in many ways of Terry Pratchett's Discworld stories. While Voidfarer also had a War of the Worlds theme, this latest episode tends more towards H. G. Wells' The Time Machine.

This time, Wayfarer Inspector Danolarian seems to be moved forwards - and backwards - in time at the whim of the gods. He begins (in Greater Alberin) by telling readers 'On the very last day of the year 3144 I vanished out of my life, such as it was. I admit that this does sound like death, but I am still alive. The problem is that I am now immortal.' His problems begin when Danolarian attempts to save his squad member Wallas (a talking cat) from an enraged glass dragon. He's abducted (along with Wallas) into a very strange future, where he meets descendants of Riellen ('the great mother of electrocracy' and also once a member of his squad) and plenty of people busy practicing 'closure intimacy'.

One of Riellen's descendants, Lariella, tranports them in her time machine back to when the Lupanians invaded. There Danolarian tends to unfinished business before embarking into the time stream once more, this time to the far past. The travelers are stranded for a while in an age of naked warriors, swarming nomads and powerful enchanters. Yet another jaunt (three million years backwards this time) takes Danolarian to a culture reminiscent of Wells' Eloi and Morlocks. There, he learns that nothing in his latest set of adventures is as it appeared to be. He takes issue with the gods themselves. As he mentioned at the beginning of the book, he ends up immortal, and leaves Alberin for good.

Though I didn't enjoy The Time Engine quite as much as Voidfarer, it was still great fun and I'm anxious to find out where Sean McMullen takes his satirical series and (now immortal) hero next.

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