by Wesley Chu
Cover Artist: Richard Anderson
Review by Wes Breazeale
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765377548
Date: 12 July 2016 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In 2015, Wesley Chu introduced us to his new time travel series with Time Salvager a thoroughly enjoyable, highly engaging story. His newest novel, Time Siege, picks up shortly after the events in Time Salvager.
James Griffin-Mars, former chronman and current fugitive, is on the run from the Valta Corporation. His girlfriend, Elise Kim, whom he rescued from the past during one of his salvage jobs, is now an Elder of the Elfreth, a tribe of people who live outside of the structure imposed by Earth's feeble government--though living might be a generous term for those struggling to survive the rigors of a polluted, despoiled planet.
Time Siege is a more focused book than its predecessor. There is greater attention to character development, as well as a greater variety of perspectives presented. In addition to James, chapters focus on Elise and her struggle to wear the mantle of leadership; Valta Senior Securitate, and all around despicable person; Kuo; and several other new and returning characters, whose involvement will remain spoiler-free in this review.
Time Siege is still a planet hopping, system spanning tale, but it spends significantly less time focusing on time travel. In many ways that's an ancillary aspect of the story this time around. James has made too many time-jumps for the Elfreth, without the benefit of the necessary miasma medicine to keep his body from breaking down, and as such he is effectively grounded. That's not to say that Chu doesn't find ways to work time travel into the story, and those moments again highlight the fascinating and unexplored history of our solar system. (Perhaps that's an opportunity for a short story or two?)
As its name suggests, Time Siege focuses on a narrower band of action--Valta Corporation's efforts to track down Elise, the anomaly. It is not initially clear why they want her so badly, but they pull out all the stops to track her down. And doing so means going through James, the Elfreth, and all of their allies. Valta relentlessly harries the group, driving them into the jungles of the Mist Isle, backing them into a corner and forcing them to stand their ground.
Time Siege is reminiscent of James S.A. Corey's early books in the Expanse series, in that they are driven by character motivation and focus on a solar system that is not all clean and shiny. Individual stories are just as important as action, and Chu does a great job of balancing those two. The action sequences are described with cinematic appeal, while the slower moments help flesh out the story and don't bog it down. The chronman tech again plays a fun role in the battles, with the variations between chronmen and corporate systems making for interesting interplay.
Time Siege is a wonderful follow-up and will leave you excited for more adventures in this universe. Here's hoping that we don't have to wait too long.