Literate time-travel exercise by English professor and debut novelist Ridgway.
No, it’s not the river plied by Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum, but instead the river of time that we’re talking about. Nicholas Falcott, nobleman and cavalryman, is in big trouble with one of Napoleon’s dragoons one minute and recovering in a London hospital nearly two centuries later, where a mysterious stranger—always a mysterious stranger—tells him, “You are in the care of the Guild.” As though in some witness protection program, Nick will be assigned a new time and place and name and given what he needs to live comfortably; the stranger informs him that he himself “jumped from Aachen in 810 and landed in 1965” and, for complex reasons, hasn’t been able to go to Germany since. Yet time has a way of moving on its own; as another mysterious figure, a Russian named Arkady, tells Nick portentously, “Volga: the Queen of Rivers. Mississippi: the Father of Waters. Amazon: the River Sea. The river of time is a thousand times greater than these. As wide and deep as the universe itself.” So it is, and though Nick is practical-minded enough to demand that Arkady “[s]top speaking in metaphors,” he goes with the flow anyway. Not much happens for all that, but Ridgway’s talky narrative is smart and often funny—and, of course, ends with enough of an opening to permit a sequel or two.
It’s not especially distinguished, but bookish fantasy fans who make it a point to keep up with Doctor Who will like this one.