The Ancient Future:
The Dark Age

Traci Harding

Cover It was touch and go for a bit. Would I give it three stars or four stars? It is very good but has two things I found annoying. As you can see I decided to give it four stars. The annoyances arenít really bad enough to seriously detract from the books overall enjoyment. But before I get into more detail hereís what the book is aboutÖ

Tory Alexander is a 90ís girl with a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do. She gets thrust back through time to 519 AD with nothing to protect her except the ability to beat everyone she meets senseless. Oh, itís fun being flippant. :)

The book starts with Tory on her way to visit her Aunt. Her hire car breaks down and she is forced to spend the night in a nearby stone circle. This turns out not to be a good idea, as at midnight she is whisked off to the dark ages.

Upon waking up the first people she encounters decide it might be fun to rape her and then kill her. The dark ages were a fun time, not. Needles to say having a black belt comes in handy and she promptly beats up her would be assailants. From this she ends up joining with her assailants and her adventures in the dark ages begin. Toryís aim throughout the book is to try and reform some of the excesses of the times.

Oh yeah. The magic is real, sort of. This is a big difference from the Ďrealí dark ages. (Yes, Iím a sceptic)

I canít say much more than this without giving away bits of the plot, which I am loath to do.

The book is sort of an alternate history, but it focuses more on changing the history then the societal consequences of the changes. Traci does touch on some of changes when Tory gets back to the present in the third part, but not many as the arenít really relevant to the events taking place.

ĎAncient Futureí paints a very romanticised picture of the dark ages. If they were really like this then I wouldnít mind living in them. Every time you look around they are having a banquet, feast, wedding or some other sort of celebration or party. Everyone is well fed, the place is relatively clean and hygienic, the castles are not dank and freezing and thereís not a single leper in sight. Is this bad? Not at all. You wouldnít want to read something that depicted it a hundred percent accurately, itíd be too depressing. This romanticised setting is part of the bookís charm.

Traci has clearly done a lot of research on the myths, legends and practices of the time. The depth of information given in the book is vast and exquisitely detailed. This is where part of my first annoyance lies. Some things are over explained in the book, even to the degree of using brackets. By which I mean Traci gives a date in the calendar of the time, then puts the contemporary equivalent in brackets after it. It would be important for Traci to know this level of detail so she doesnít get things happening at the wrong time, but it isnít necessary to include in the book. From the context in which the archaic references were used I would have understood what was going on without the additional explanations. Traci needs to credit her readers with a higher intelligence, and credit her writing with greater clarity and precision. A lot of her explanations is superfluous.

The other thing I found annoying was the language used in dialogue. Thee, art, thou, dost are used to give Ye Olde Wolrde feel. I found it initially grating, but if you persevere it rapidly fades from notice. This is an interesting and enjoyable tale, donít let yourself be put off by this affectation.

The best thing about this book is itís fun. This is why I gave it four stars. Itís an excellent way to while away the hours. You can sympathise with Tory as she tries to reform the dark ages, deals with all the magic and has her life messed around by the gods.