Some books grab me by the throat at the first line and don’t let up until the final chapter. Some books lose me in the first chapter. And some books plod along, slowly but surely, dropping hints along the way at the wonders to come.
I think Felix Parma’s “Map of Time” is one the latter. After an irresistible introduction, the plot veers so far from the promised subject of time travel that at one point the self-conscious narrator interrupts the story to promise that the setup really is necessary!
The reading was smooth, creamy–not especially tasty but it went down pretty easily. The narrator (for the un-named omniscient narrator is the best character so far) makes easy asides, especially when the main plot is, as he says, getting boring. A long carriage ride by the first section’s protagonist is abandoned in favor of the history of HG Wells, comments about Victorian social structure abound, and when the protagonist doesn’t know something, the narrator fills it in.
Those are the highlights; basically, it wasn’t particularly good, but it also wasn’t so bad that I was tempted to abandon it.
But this is one of those books that steals your soul without you noticing it. A couple of twists and turns later, I am hooked. It’s without a doubt the best written complicated plot I’ve ever seen–it’s easy to keep track of what’s happening no matter how many layers I can see looking back.
Sometimes, a book doesn’t earn it’s long-windedness. Some books just go on and on forever and make you demand a competent editor (a lot of Victorian novels are like that). But some books actually live up to the magic waiting in the wings, actually deliver on their promise. I’m only about halfway through, but I’m pretty sure this is one of them.