I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
I remember reading the author’s first book Time Crawlers, Stories From Parallel Universes a collection of six short stories belonging to genre science fiction. One of the stories I enjoyed the most was ‘Time crawlers’. It used the concept of time crawlers, time readers and time slices.So when I came to know that the author’s second book is themed on the concept of time again, I was really curious to know his new take on the subject.
Demons of Time:Race to the Seventh Sunset is the first book in the series ‘Time Traveler’s Book’. It’s a novel based on the concept of Time travelers(a.k.a Time Demons),Time readers, their lofty and sometimes nefarious ambitions, personal revenges and race against time to save the world. The story spans across thousands of years thanks to the Time demons who can travel from one time slice to another. They are almost invincible because upon destruction of their body or vessel they can easily move to another time slice in another body and continue their life and travels. Only way to stop them is by imprisoning them in ‘Kaalshoonya’, a space devoid of time as a dimension.
All is well in their story as long as the time-readers and time-travelers use their skill to learn, seek adventure and to change the world for the better. But with great power comes the greed to retain it and to acquire more. While the time demons Kumbh and Vetri try to destroy the world using their powers, sage Rigu and his disciple Tej is in the quest to stop them. Tej is also trying to avenge his dead mother by killing her murderer in the process. Original story begins in 3077 BC. But then we watch Tej in a nail biting narration trying to stop Kumbh from reaching his goal by time traveling across a past as far as 3362 BC and a future as distant as 2072 AD.
Overall the book was an easy and enjoyable read for me. I would give it a rating of 3 out of 5.
If I had to describe the narration in one word, I would say it was ‘clean’, with no choppy ends. As always the author amazes us by binding unlikely themes like time travel & demonic possession, mythology & science fiction. Whether it’s converting a simple case of mythological ‘sprinkling of holy water and blowing a conch-shell’ into a ‘chemical-induced paralytic shock,catalyzed by sound waves’ or a simple bite into an injection of neurotoxin into a person’s blood stream, author has blended mythology and science fiction in the right proportions. One of my favorite things about science fiction is the opportunity to read a lot of technical jargon.Author caters to that demand very well. I also loved his attention to detail: whether its the bangle Kaalpriya leaves with Tej, sandal paste Rigu puts on Tej’s forehead or the meticulous ways in which objects are passed across ages. The most satisfying and heart wrenching moment was definitely the repercussions of necromancy in Tej’s past. I found it totally unpredictable and brilliant. One of the best parts of the book!
Having said that, I think I must point out a few areas where I found the book lacking as a novel. I would have easily ignored these parts if this was a short story or novella. One such area is character development. Except Tej who battles personal demons, identity crisis, faces inner conflicts regarding to sexual orientation and suddenly gets introduced to totally strange multiple worlds none of the other characters actually ‘grows’ in the novel. Most of the characters are either black or white with rarely any complexities. I believe for a good novel we need a lot of strongly developed characters.I hope in the next books at least we will get to read in detail about the life and nuances of other characters in the story.
Earlier I used the word ‘clean’ to describe the narration because the book surprisingly goes to great lengths to stay out of conflicts. It is this very aspect of the book that makes it easy, short and enjoyable. But shouldn’t a good novel embrace conflicts? For example, the language spoken in 3077 BC and 2072 AD doesn’t sound much different. The world around the characters and technology used change. But there isn’t anything in their spoken word that gives away the age to which they belong. Is it because the characters are mostly Time-readers and Time-demons who have access to the future? But wouldn’t the narration seem more real if it embraced these differences?
Also we see that Tej is often fed with solutions by time readers. As soon as he occupies a body he learns from its mind pretty fast and merge into its surroundings. As interesting as this feature is, it makes Tej’s journey a smooth ride. There were two main conflicts in the climax of this book which I found really interesting and proved Tej’s presence of mind. But I wish there were more. I hope the narrator would add more conflicts and even some failures once in a while to make Tej’s adventures more realistic and fascinating.
As satisfying as the story is, I could find very less ‘wow’ elements or memorable lines in it. The plot twist was predictable with the periodical tantrums of a character acting as a major giveaway. Also it was a disappointment that the book doesn’t exactly end on a cliffhanger. At least for the time being things are fine till made worse in the future. But I don’t think the future is safe because even a minor bug fix or a bug can act as a major comeback for the villainous Time Demons. So I do look forward to the next book in the series. I hope to read more about the characters and to watch Tej encounter riskier adventures next time.