Prolific sci-fi author Bova (Leviathans of Jupiter, 2011, etc.) returns with the sixth installment of his Orion series, his first since 1995’s Orion Among the Stars.
This latest story of time-jumping warrior Orion opens with him helping Beowulf defeat the monster Grendel (and Grendel’s mother) in ancient England. Soon after, he is transported in time to meet a young Arthur, the legendary future king. Orion’s nefarious and powerful Creator, Aten, the Golden One, schemes to cause Arthur’s death and set in motion a long-lasting barbarian empire as part of his plot to control the space-time continuum. But the independent-minded Orion, with help from another Creator, and romantic interest, Anya, is determined to defy him. As time-travel adventures go, the book’s plot is relatively simple, with some famous figures replaced by Bova’s characters (for example, Anya as the Lady of the Lake). Its straightforward approach has its appeal; in some ways, the book feels like a throwback to 1950s pulp fiction. The story, though not particularly challenging, moves along at a rapid clip, and the fight scenes, in particular, are exciting and well-drawn. The biggest problem is that the characters, often saddled with stilted dialogue, never quite come alive; it feels as if Bova is merely moving pawns around a chessboard—although perhaps that’s fitting in a story where history itself is being manipulated by outside forces. That said, it may make it hard for some readers, particularly newcomers to the series, to care about the characters’ fates. The ending leaves open the possibility for more Orion adventures, which will be good news for series’ fans.
A pleasant, if unremarkable, time-travel diversion.