When Brendan Doyle is flown from America to London to give a lecture on Samuel Taylor Coleridge, little does he expect that he will soon be traveling through time and meeting the poet himself. But Brendan could do without being stranded penniless in the teeming, thieving London of 1810.
Only the dazzling imagination of Tim Powers could have assembled such an insane cast of characters: an ancient Egyptian sorcerer; a modern millionaire; a body-switching werewolf; a hideously deformed clown; a young woman disguised as a boy; a brainwashed Lord Byron; and our hero, Brendan Doyle. The Anubis Gates took the fantasy world by storm a decade ago, and now fans can savor this Philip K. Dick Award winner all over again.
©2015 Tim Powers (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).
The Anubis Gates was—many years ago—my first exposure to the phantasmagorical writings of Tim Powers. I remember being struck by the uniqueness of his take on the fantasy genre; such intricate and convoluted plotting; such bizarre complexities of magical interactions; such wonderfully madcap characters. Now listening to it after these many years I am struck by the same impressions again. In the interim, I have read and listened to several other Tim Powers novels. All his works have in common the same baroque complexities of plotting and workings of magic; all are populated by the most weirdly wonderful characters.
The Anubis Gates employs time travel as an essential element of the story. I am a particular fan of time travel; once having spent an entire year reading all manner of time travel stories. As part of that year-long reading excursion into the temporal unknown I encountered the critical work on the subject: Time Machines by Paul J. Nahin. In his book Mr. Nahin sets forth a means of categorization for time travel stories. The time travel in The Anubis Gates must, according to Nahin, be classified as Fantasy and not Science Fiction because it does not employ a machine to accomplish the temporal displacement. More importantly, all the best time travel stories revolve around the idea of predestination: Can we change the past of alter the future? Nahin speculates that if time travel is possible then nothing can be changed because it already happened the way it happened. This has become to be called “Nahin Approved.” In this requirement at least, The Anubis Gates is Nahin Approved. The past cannot be changed. This feature becomes a plot element and the source of several ingenious twists that provide a great deal of fun.
The narration can often make, or break, an audiobook. In the case of The Anubis Gates the writing is top notch and the book needs no narration to make it an enjoyable experience. It stands as a great book even before being produced as an audiobook. Enter Bronson Pinchot, arguably the best narrator in the business, and this already fine book becomes an entertainment unsurpassed—few equals and no superiors. Books like this are, for me, the reason I listen to audiobooks. Pinchot is allowed to flex his vocal cords on this one; voicing the many bizarre and otherworldly characters in amazing fashion. Such is his talent that I cannot imagine how a full cast of actors, hired to give a portrayal of each individual character, could possibly be any improvement. Pinchot is the proverbial one-man-show! He can portray men, women and magically altered time-jumping Gypsies with equal aplomb. This novel is set in the early nineteenth-century London so one would expect a passable English accent. Pinchot provides convincing, and unique accents for each of the cast of thousands; a remarkable accomplishment.
My ranking of Tim Powers’ novels:
1. The Anubis Gates *
3. Last Call *
4. On Stranger Tides *
5. The Stress of Her Regard
6. Hide Me Among the Graves
* Narrated by Bronson Pinchot
Other fantastic performances by Bronson Pinchot:
Dead Six series, by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari
Matterhorn, by Karl Marlantes
The Grimnoir Chronicles series, by Larry Correia
The Brotherhood of the Wheel series, by R. S. Belcher
The President’s Vampire, by Christopher Farnsworth
This venerable classic read very much like the era in which it was written, the 80s, when big multi-character epics with convoluted plots and worldbuilding that didn't have to make much sense were all the rage.
A bunch of Egyptian sorcerers in the 19th century try to summon Anubis to throw off the British yoke. This doesn't work, but instead it opens up a bunch of "gates" through which those able to detect them are able to time travel. In the 20th century, a millionaire finds out about the gates and recruits a bunch of rich poetry fans to pay him for a trip back to the 19th century to hear Samuel Taylor Coleridge speak in person. Except it turns out the millionaire actually had another plan - he wanted to meet a body-swapping werewolf who was running amok back then, to bribe him into letting him switch out of his terminally diseased body into a new one.
The main character is a classicist conned into going back in time as the subject matter expert with all the rich time travelers. He gets stranded when one of those Egyptian sorcerers sees the time travelers appear out of nowhere, figures out something is going on, and abducts him to interrogate him. Soon the sorcerer has his own plans, figuring he can use time travel for world domination too.
There is also a woman masquerading as a man while she hunts the werewolf serial killer who murdered her fiancee, a thieves guild, and various other dastardly characters mixing magic, time travel, and ancient gods in an alternate Victorian England.
The story was interesting and Tim Powers cleverly wound all the different threads together, handling the time travel well without worrying about the physics of it or potential paradoxes. Likewise, the reader must simply accept that magic and ancient Egyptian spirits exist, because. It all blends together into a lengthy and imaginative epic.
I only gave it three stars because in the end, the characters wouldn't have interested me in reading more of their adventures, and the plot sometimes seemed to be a circus performance for the reader's benefit, without even a pretense at worldbuilding. But it was a fun listen and I might try something by Powers again.
Bronson Pinchot, as always, made this a very enjoyable audio to listen to.
This scifi-fantasy novel has a bit of everything, from time travel, to Frankenstein-esk monsters, to a developed magic system, werewolves, body switching, and even an Egyptian God, and somehow it all works. It's a bit bizarre at times, but that just added to the fun. I normally don't like Time Travel books, but i had fun listening to it and I'll probably listen to it again someday. I liked the authors writing style and the way that he described things really painted pictures in my mind. The narrator was excellent, but sometimes he, or his characters sounded like they were so, inappropriately depressed that it took away from his performance, and so I'm deducting 1 star.
Having read it in the past I looked forward to sitting back and having the story told to me. I was not disappointed.
My only criticism would be, I didn't care for the tone of voice used for Doyle. Otherwise, it was a wild and twisting journey.
The first book by Tim Powers that I read years ago. I was excited to see it available on audible. I won't spoil the fun except to advise that you get ready for a roller coaster ride.
Powers shows flashes of the potential he would display in later works.
Somehow the usually reliable Bronson Pinchot doesn't quite capture the proper tone for this wired tale. I dinged the performance rating accordingly.
Great premise, enjoyed the story and wanted much more of some of the characters. Would love to see an attempted visualization in a movie. He really hit the creepy note well with his scenes in London.
He is simply the best narrator I've heard. Not only does he have an incredible range of voices you simply can't believe it's the same person but also his depth of feeling is conveyed perfectly.
There were a few parts that seemed rushed or like an attempt to include historical facts too fast for the sole purpose of checking a box. A bit of better editing could have helped focus places that felt either rushed or unnecessary.
I really loved this book, part penny dreadful, part time travel science fiction, it caught my interest and swept me away. Bronson Pinchot's performance is smooth as silk ranging from dark subtle sinister undertones to bright naive optimism.
Sci-Fi & Fantasy Reader
Wow. Where do I even start with The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers? What a strange book. You've got time travel, sorcery, body switching werewolves, gypsies, beggars, insane clowns, dopplegangers, and Egyptian gods all rolled up into one fast-paced and chaotic story.
Chaotic. I think that's the keyword here. The story is fun and sometimes funny, but it's also a bit all over the place and can be hard to keep it all straight. It's definitely one of the more interesting stories that I've read, but I think perhaps it's almost a bit too interesting. There's just so much going on...
And then there's the hapless protagonist, Brendan Doyle. He's probably the most helpless and pathetic main character that I've encountered since Arthur Dent. Unfortunately, I didn't find him quite as lovable as Hitchhiker's Guide's unlucky protagonist. I will give Doyle some credit though; he did manage to grow as a character over the course of the novel and became considerably more likable and respectable by the conclusion.
Overall, I enjoyed The Anubis Gates, but, even though it was very fast-paced, it didn't leave my dying to continue to reading. I'm giving it 3 out of 5 stars.
The story is very disjointed and never really gets going. It's never confusing, it just never really finds any rhythm and ends up being rather ponderous.
The whole thing just feels like a bunch of different ideas someone had for a story that have all been shoehorned together into a single novel.
Excellent performance by Pinchot as usual.
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