When a book comes highly recommended, I want to love it. Sometimes I like the book just fine but I don’t love it but I wholeheartedly wanted to. This is the case with The Anubis Gates. It’s a good book, don’t get me wrong, but I had such high hopes for it that I think it just didn’t live up to my very high expectations.
So what’s this book about? So many things. The contentious relationship between Britain and Egypt in the very early 19th Century, powerful Egyptian gods, time travel, body swapping, magic, and a few historical literary figures all mixed up in a plot that can go anywhere.
Let’s start at the beginning… The early 1980s, an aging billionaire discovers a gate, for lack of a better word, that allows him to travel back in time. He organizes a trip with several other wealthy individuals, and a lone English professor, to attend a lecture by a well-known poet. A magician who happened to open the time travel gates way back when, happens to spy the travelers and kidnaps Brendan Doyle, the hapless English professor brought along for some educational tidbits. Brendan ends up stranded in 1810. Completely unequipped to deal with life in 1810, he ends up a beggar, a rather bad one at that, in a beggars guild, and manages to get caught up in a body swapping scheme being perpetrated by the billionaire who brought him back in time. In a new body, Brendan, now a well-known poet, or at least a poet who will become well-known, lives out an unexpected life.
I hope you understand that description because that damn thing took forever to write. There are so many plot lines in this book that at one point I needed to go back a chapter just to figure out who was in what body and, well, what the hell was going on. Now, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t entertaining, it was (there are many good things about this book), but there was more than one time when I found myself confused. To be honest, I read fast sometimes and I think this was one of those moments when that habit didn’t help me at all.
I want to say read this one because there are some really great parts of this book. And I think I will say that because I wasn’t disappointed with this book, but I think I picked it up at the wrong time and we weren’t a good fit.
One thing I loved about the book, and the reason I’m telling you to read it, is the way the travel was incorporated into the story. Having magical gates that transport people in time is just cool and I want one. I also liked the body swapping for all that it threw me off at one point in the story. I guess at that point if you’re going to go with time travel, why not swap a few bodies too.
So tell me, is there another Tim Powers book I should read? I want to give him another try.
The Anubis Gates
By Tim Powers
An Ace Book