by Jennifer Macaire, historical/time-travel (2002)
Jacobyte Books, $5.64, ISBN 1-74100-088-2
As the first of a projected seven book series by Jennifer Macaire, Time For Alexander introduces our 22nd-century heroine, Ashley the "Time-Journalist", as she travels back in time to interview a nobody named Alexander the Great three thousand years in her past. Narrated in first person, Ashley interviews Alexander and she is immediately besotted by this man, never mind that he mistakes her for a groupie at first. When she tries to go back and Alexander mistakes the transporter beam thingie as an attempt by Hades, the God of the Underworld, to kidnap our "Persephone" here, Ashley is stuck with Alexander. She will stand by his side - or tries to, anyway - as she chronicles the rise and fall of the man she falls in love with and bears a child for.
Having being unable to finish Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, I wonder how this book will fare with me. Perhaps not surprisingly, I'm not too keen on it. No, it's not that I disliked this book - in fact, I have a pleasant time reading this book. There are some few fundamental problems I have with this story that distract me from enjoying this book fully. Perhaps the biggest problem is the lack of detailed chronology in this story. While the author has obviously done her research in the lifestyle and army culture of Alexander's time, I am hard-pressed to pinpoint exactly when in Alexander's life that this story takes place and I have a harder time figuring out at which point in Alexander's life that book one ends at.
I am also quite disappointed that Alexander is portrayed like some misunderstood overly-sensitive poet in this story. I have no access to what this man is thinking. And if you are hoping for any insight into Alexander's ambiguous sexuality, don't have your hopes raised too high. Maybe this problem is due to Ashley being hardly an impartial observer. She may have won an award for journalistic endeavors but she's halfway in love with her subject and she willingly plunges into an affair with him while not caring one whit about the potential consequences of her actions. It doesn't take long for her to blab about the future to Alexander and anyone else that they set her up as the Oracle. Ashley's actions don't ring true - how can someone be so careless to risk changing history with her glib tongue?
In epic story style, Alexander and Ashley are often separated for long periods of time, which is not a good thing as Alexander is already underwritten enough as it is and Ashley is an uninteresting heroine. She's always either pining for Alexander and acting like a silly twit. When it's inconvenient, she remembers her 22nd-century sensibilities (euw, slavery, ugh, children working as food tasters!) and when she should be acting like a 22nd-century lady and kicking some ass, she goes into eek-eek-eek-I'm-so-helpless mode instead.
I am able to finish this book easily, but there's no immediate impulse for me to want to find out more about Alexander and Ashley, I'm afraid. Alexander is too bland and Ashley is often irritating. Maybe these issues will be resolved in later books, but if I am to judge by this book alone, Time For Alexander is a lacklustre start to an epic series.
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