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In High Places: A Novel of Crosstime Traffic    by Harry Turtledove order for
In High Places
by Harry Turtledove
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the third book in a Crosstime Traffic series. Annette Klein lives in California in a 21st century world, whose economy is driven by cross-time trading with parallel worlds that are more primitive, and unaware that some traders are from quite so far away. Now, her family is on assignment in an alternate world, where her father is Muhammad al-Marsawi and she is the veiled Khadija. Their assignment is almost up, and soon she'll start her college freshman year, a year of fieldwork to her credit.

Jacques is a tailor's son and a soldier in the Kingdom of Versailles, in a world devastated by the Black Deaths. There, slavery is an expected risk of life, Christians worship Jesus' younger brother, God's Second Son Henri, for having stopped the plagues, and fear the power of the southern Muslim Berber Kingdom of Berry. Jacques' ruler, the foxy Count Guillaume, orders him to join a trading caravan, to spy on a Muslim family that has aroused his interest, the al-Marsawi clan. He does so and is immediately attracted to Khadija, despite the fact that only her eyes are visible.

En route to Marseille and its Crosstime Traffic center, the caravan is attacked, and Annette separated from her parents. She and Jacques are taken by slave traders to Madrid. Annette expects her parents to find and rescue her until they are taken through an illegal transposition chamber into another alternate. There, she experiences the evil of slavery first hand. But though she despairs initially, Annette persists in seeking an escape route to her home timeline, eventually finds one, and is able to return with help for Jacques and the other friends she has made.

Annette learns a great deal during this adventure, particularly from Jacques who asks her, 'But when it comes to things that really matter, things of the spirit, are you any better off than we are?' Though the story is fairly straightforward, I enjoyed In High Places for its exploration of the nature of beliefs, as it shows culture shock on different levels and how alternate realities might have developed.

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