Apr 10, 2019


Book Review - Traveller Inceptio, Traveller #1 (by Rob Shackleford)

Title: Traveller - Inceptio
Series: Traveller (book #1)
Author: Rob Shackleford
Genre: Historical Fiction, Time Travel
Publisher: Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd
Release Date: February 28th, 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 432

"If you were sent 1000 years into the past, would you survive?

Traveller - Inceptio describes how the Transporter is accidentally invented and becomes public knowledge when it sends a subject 1000 years into the past.

A Special Forces team of Travellers is then selected and trained with the intent to send them to Saxon England to explore what could be a very dangerous period of history.

From the beaches of Australia to the forests of Saxon England, Traveller - Inceptio reveals how Travellers discover they need a lot more than technology to survive the trials of early Eleventh Century life."

(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. The author described it as "a gentle Sci-Fi that blends the genres of Historical Fiction and Action / Adventure"; it sounded promising and since I hadn't read any books set in the Saxon era and culture I decided to give it a try.

The Plot
Phil Walker is a graduate engineering student working on his PhD and a chance of a good job. When he joins Mel, Allen and Craig on a doctoral research project, their goal is to develop a revolutionary security scanning system for their sponsor Heldguard Security. But when Phil's surfer buddy Yeti accidentally bumps into the prototype scanner, displacing wires and reattaching them in the wrong order, they end up with the discovery of a lifetime instead - a time travel machine that goes 1000 years back in time. Soon their discovery attracts the attention of international intelligence organizations, intent on taking control of the team's research.

Professor Adrian Taylor believes the newly discovered Transporter can be used to study the 11th century culture and society up close, a time of conflict and instability throughout the globe still mostly unknown to historians. The British, US and Australian governments fund Project Traveller, a joint initiative to send skilled researchers back in time to Saxon Aengland, and a Special Forces team is assembled in secluded Welbeck Abbey to undergo specialized training that will allow them to blend in and survive in the past.

Meanwhile, after a narrow escape from a pack of wild wolves, traveler Michael encounters a lone monk praying in the ancient forest. Believing Michael to have been sent by God in answer to his prayers, Brother Oeric offers shelter in his monastery and leads the traveler to the nearby village of Giolgrave. Michael is introduced to Abbott Aldfrig of the Benedictine Order and the village's leader, the thegn Godric, and soon is accepted by the small Saxon community as one of their own. When the Abbott asks Michael to help bring a valuable psalter from the city of Snotengaham, Michael leads a small party of monks and the thegn's eldest son Eadric through a land threatened by incursions from the violent Danes.

The Good
"Traveller Inceptio" is the first book of an epic historical fiction trilogy with sci-fi/time travel and action/adventure elements. Set both in present days and in 11th century England, the novel follows 3 distinctive sets of characters: the Australian graduate students who unintentionally create a device to travel 1000 years back in time; the team of multinational Special Forces soldiers selected to study the Saxon culture, undergoing specialized training in England and New Zealand to blend in and survive in that era; and a lone traveler named Michael who is accepted into a small Saxon community, learning their ways and protecting the villagers from the Viking incursions. The alternating plot-lines are mostly independent but also somewhat interconnected: the graduates' fortuitous discovery leads to Project Traveller and the training the special forces go through is put to good use during the mission we follow into the past. The author manages to keep the true identity of the traveler Michael concealed for most of the plot, even throwing a couple of brilliant red herrings along the way to keep us guessing who he might really be.

The novel is highly descriptive with vivid details that show a profound knowledge of the different cultures depicted in the plot, mostly the (British) Saxon but also the (Australian) Aboriginals and the (New Zealand) Maori: from their customs and rituals to their language, social structure and religious beliefs in both the old pagan gods and the Christian teachings, what they ate and how they dressed (or, in one case, didn't). It's not an action-packed story, though there are some gripping action sequences at the end of the book, but the detailed account in no way slows down the flow of the narrative, quite the opposite, as we get drawn and immersed in the lives of all the characters.

"Traveller Inceptio" is mostly a character-driven novel, following the different characters in their respective sub-plots, their personal stories and journeys, their relationships with one another and the group/community they belong to, their emotions and motivations. The characters and 3-dimentional and complex, believable and relatable: the Australian graduates (Phil, Mel, Allen and Craig) working through the challenges of completing the doctoral project, dealing with the consequences of their accidental discovery and the steps they take to protect their research; the Special Forces team (Hunter, Osborne, McFee, McAlister, Poxon, Hurley, Morris, Leishman, Kitchener and Anderson) as they go through unorthodox training in ancient languages, traditional Saxon skills, hunting and combat techniques with swords and archaic weapons; the traveler Michael, his growing emotional attachment to the Giolgrave community and the conflict between the parameters of his initial mission and the need to protect the villagers; the Giolgrave community - the Benedictine monks providing spiritual guidance to the villagers, the thegn Godric burdened with the responsibility for the security of his community, his eldest son Eadric facing the challenges of adulthood, the healer Tatae protecting the ancient knowledge passed down through generations of medicine women, Yffi and his hunters with their bond to the ancient forest and deep respect for the old pagan ways... each and every character is captivating and goes through deep emotional growth throughout the plot.

The Not So Good
Fair warning: there is a very disturbing rape scene. If you're particularly sensitive to the subject you might want to skip this chapter.

The battles between the Vikings and the Saxon are very realistic and extremely graphical, as are some of the encounters with the wild life. It's the reason the novel lost a book/star in the final rating, it was too violent and goreish for my taste. You will need a strong stomach to read the last couple of chapters.

Final Rating
"Traveller Inceptio" is a vividly engaging epic historical fiction novel with science fiction and action/adventure elements, set both in modern days and 11th century Saxon era. Recommended for those who enjoy time travel stories, in particular those that don't deal with the Grandfather Paradox, and adventures set in ancient cultures.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Website: robshackleford.com
Twitter: @robshackleford
Genre: Historical Fiction, Action & Adventure, Children's Books

An English-born Australian, Rob Shackleford, has lived in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with a varied career that has included customs officer, scuba instructor, college teacher and roles in too many places.

With degrees in arts and business, he is mad keen on travel, scuba diving, family history, martial arts, astronomy and playing djembe and congas.

Rob is a father of two and lives on the Gold Coast.
(source: amazon.com)



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