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by Judith Tarr, Harry Turtledove

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-86487-6
Publisher: Tor

Immensely prolific historical romancer Tarr, who recently mythicized Old Europe in Neolithic times (White Mare’s Daughter, 1998) and goddess lore in ancient Egypt (The Shepherd Kings, 1999), joins forces with Byzantine scholar Turtledove—a prolific historical (and alternate-historical) novelist plus full-time SF and fantasy writer (Colonization: Second Contact, 1999, etc.)—to take on a time-travel adventure about one Nicole Gunther Perrin. Los Angeles lawyer Nicole is the mother of preschoolers Kimberley and Justin, the very image of his deadbeat and long-gone father, Frank Perrin. Nicole’s life is a wearying shambles of child care, sexist office partners, and missed child-support payments. On her bedroom nightstand sits a Roman plaque of Liber and his consort, Libera, bought during her honeymoon in Vienna. One disenchanted evening she falls asleep and awakens in a.d. 170 in the Roman frontier town Carnuntum, where she’s a widowed tavernkeeper and speaks Latin! All of this may echo the Rip Van Winkle device made familiar by Washington Irving, Lewis Carroll, and endless modern fantasy writers—carrying the fear of 0h, it was all a dream! as its resolution. Yet while Carnuntum, with its plague, war, rape, gladiators, slavery, drunkenness, pillage, and polluted drinking water, is at first just a far cry from California, some human strengths still have to be relearned eternally. Far stronger—echoes aside—than its plot initially suggests.