A team of grad-students and young archeologists work eagerly to uncover and restore the ancient medieval ruins of Castelgard. Once the site for a major battle in the Hundred Years War fought between England and France in the 14th and 15th centuries, the southern French farmland holds many deeper mysteries. One involves their professor's eyeglasses and signature, which they find scrawled on a 600-year-old scroll in the monastery. Carbon dating says it isn't a fake. And the message says HELP ME.
Four students jet off to their sponsor's Arizona-based headquarters to demand answers, as the professor was last known to have stopped in there. But suddenly they find that their seemingly benign patron knows exactly when the professor is.
Part-sci-fi, part historical adventure, Timeline explores future quantum mechanics and past cultures with the pace of a modern behind-enemy-lines, rescue-mission thriller.
I loved it, again. [JG]
WHY I LOVE IT
What I found myself enjoying fifteen years later was the grim, disenchanted medieval world that Crichton depicts: plague, ruthless warlords, deviant seductresses, powerless and victimized common folk, civil war — thematically, the novel works for me best at these moments in which the grad students, Marek especially, encounter the disconnect between his modern assumptions and the world of Castelgard. Chivalry, Crichton contends, was dead back then, too.
Oh, and I actually enjoyed the movie adaptation a lot!
3. "The fourteenth century was a vanished world, and a dangerous one. It was a religious world; most people went to church at least once a day. But it was an incredibly violent world, where invading armies killed everyone, where women and children were routinely hacked to death, where pregnant women were eviscerated for sport. It was a world that gave lip service to the ideals of chivalry while indiscriminately pillaging and murdering, where women were imagined to be powerful and delicate, yet they ruled fortunes, commanded castles, took lovers at will, and plotted assassinations and rebellions. It was a world of death, of sweeping plagues, of disease, of constant warfare."
2. "He recognized it at once: the town and the fortress of Castelgard. And it was no longer a ruin. Its walls were complete. He was here."
1. "As he watched the [knight's] aggressiveness and speed, Marek realized that left to his own devices, this was exactly the way he himself would choose to fight—quickly, with the condition and reserves of stamina to wear down an opponent. He had only imagine a slower fighting style from an unconscious assumption that men in the past were weaker or slower or less imaginative than he was, as a modern man. Market knew this assumption of superiority was a difficulty found by every historian. He just hadn't thought he was guilty of it."
Michael Crichton (1942-2008) remains the only writer to have a number one book, movie, and TV show in the same year. His novels include Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Next, and Sphere among others. Collectively his works have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, been translated into thirty-eight languages, and provided the basis for fifteen films. He was also the director of Westworld, The Great Train Robbery, and Looker.