Emperor (Time's Tapestry Series #1)

Emperor (Time's Tapestry Series #1)

3.4 5
by Stephen Baxter
     
 

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Inscribed in Latin, The Prophecy has resided in the hands of a single family for generations, revealing secrets about the world that is to come, and guiding them to wealth and power...

It begins when a Celtic noble betrays his people at the behest of his mother's belief in The Prophecy and sides with the conquering Roman legions. For the next 400 years, Britannia

Overview

Inscribed in Latin, The Prophecy has resided in the hands of a single family for generations, revealing secrets about the world that is to come, and guiding them to wealth and power...

It begins when a Celtic noble betrays his people at the behest of his mother's belief in The Prophecy and sides with the conquering Roman legions. For the next 400 years, Britannia thrives-as does the family that contributed to Rome's reign over the island with the construction of Emperor Hadrian's Wall and the protection of Emperor Constantine from a coup d'etat.

And even when the sun begins to set on the Roman Empire, The Prophecy remains. For those capable of deciphering its signs and portents, the future of Earth is in their hands

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
After a string of millennia-spanning science fiction epics -- the Manifold trilogy, the Destiny's Children saga (Coalescent, Exultant, et al.), A Time Odyssey (coauthored with Arthur C. Clarke), and more -- Stephen Baxter takes on the alternate history with an ambitious tale beginning in first-century Britain and involving an extraordinary prophecy that will play an unlikely role in the country's tumultuous future.

During a time of "great historical flux" -- the invasion and systematic conquest of Britain by Claudius, the birth and crucifixion of Christ, etc. -- a British countrywoman who is dying in the throes of chilbirth utters an unworldly prophecy in Latin, a language she has never spoken before. The foretelling, written down by a family member who has traveled abroad and is fluent in Latin, turns out to be eerily accurate. Is it divine intervention, witchcraft, or something even more improbable?

Baxter wrote numerous alternate histories early in his writing career (Anti-Ice, Voyage, et al.) but Emperor -- the first installment of his Time's Tapestry saga -- is written on another scale altogether. Spanning innumerable generations, featuring dozens of integral characters, and dealing with a multitude of themes (the influence of Roman culture, the destabilization of British traditions, the rise of Christianity, etc.), Baxter has managed to bring the mind-blowing magnitude of his sci-fi epics to this alternate history. Readers, however, may be a little less than thrilled by the book's decidedly lackluster ending. With many intriguing plotlines left unresolved, it's evident Baxter is taking this series somewhere: Exactly where will have to remain a mystery until the second installment, tentatively entitled Conqueror, is released. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly
Excellent characterization and deft historical scene-setting lift this first of an ambitious new series from Philip K. Dick Award-winner Baxter (Sunstorm), which follows the passing of a prophecy across generations of a British and Roman family, whose members variously interpret its cryptic promise of freedom vis-a-vis the fate of both Britannia and later Christianity. The Latin prophecy, referring to three Roman emperors, is born in 4 B.C., along with the boy who becomes the British chieftain Nectovelin. Half a century later, Nectovelin's cousin Agrippina uses the prophecy to pique the curiosity of the invading Emperor Claudius, who brings her back to Rome. Later, her avaricious Roman granddaughter, Claudia Severa, capitalizes on the predictive words to persuade Emperor Hadrian to build the wall along Britain's northern frontier. An epilogue set at the dawn of the fifth century hints at the rebirth of the prophecy in a more modern form, providing fodder for the sequel. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Even as the Brigantian child known as Nectovelin struggled to be born, his mother spoke a prophecy in Latin that foretold a future linking her family with the future of Britain. Spanning the reigns of three Roman emperors—Claudius, Hadrian, and Constantine—the first volume in Baxter's (Mammoth) four-book alternate-history series follows the fortunes of a Celtic dynasty as it attempts to understand the cryptic words that hold tantalizing clues to its destiny and that of the world. Baxter's saga tracks the survival of an idea embedded in a prophecy. More concerned with events than individuals, though the characters are memorable, this sf family drama is a good choice for most collections.


—Jackie Cassada
Kirkus Reviews
First in a new alternate-history series from the author of Coalescent (2003). In 4 b.c., a woman struggling to give birth in ancient Britain begins babbling in Latin, a language of which she has no knowledge. Written down by a relative, her words prophesy the coming of three Roman emperors to the island. Nectovelin, the baby born that day, jealously guards the prophecy as an adult, although he can't read a word of it, while family members scheme to peek at the document and take advantage of its predictions. Sure enough, in the year 43, General Vespasian invades Britain with armies and elephants. Nectovelin fails to assassinate the Emperor Claudius, but his niece Agrippina takes advantage of Claudius's patronage to found a dynasty in Rome. In 122, quarryman Brigonius schemes with Agrippina's granddaughter to make money supplying the Roman army with stone to build Hadrian's Wall-but only if, as the prophecy states, the emperor decides upon a wall of stone rather than turf. In 314, Constantine the Great visits Britain, where another of Agrippina's descendants, Thalius, hopes to persuade the emperor to return to a pure, early form of Christianity. Eventually, in 418, with the Roman armies gone and the empire itself tottering, British warlords strive to impose law and order while keeping Saxon invaders at bay. Packed with dryly accurate historical detail and peopled with stock characters, the episodic, overextended narrative trudges along without any heartfelt social or political dimension.
From the Publisher
“Baxter produces something new and subtly different in the time travel genre. A multi-generational story of how an idea can permeate time and change the parameters of human existence…with a large cast of Romans, ancient Britons, and colorful settings.”—S. M. Stirling
 
“Epic historical fiction laced with a science fiction premise…a vividly convincing picture of a past world.”—SFX
 
“Strong imagination and a capacity for awe abound in the work of Stephen Baxter.”—The London Times Literary Supplement
 
"Formally audacious, constantly surprising, clinically subversive of the genre norms, cosmic irony always at hand to awe and undercut the reader."—Locus
 
"Baxter at his best."—The Guardian (London)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780441014668
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/02/2007
Series:
Time's Tapestry Series , #1
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.24(h) x 1.12(d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Baxter, author of the space duology featuring Proxima and Ultima, is the national bestselling author of Ark and Flood. He is a winner of the British Science Fiction Award and the Locus Award. His novel Voyage won the Sidewise Award for the best alternate history novel of the year, and he won the Philip K. Dick Award twice, for The Time Ships and for Vacuum Diagrams. He was also a recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for The Time Ships.

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Emperor (Time's Tapestry Series #1) 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
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I would love to finish reading this book, but barnes and Noble decided to cut me off from it. Apparently, when you buy from B&N you don't actually own the book and they can revoke it at any time for any reason.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
In 4 BC, Brica struggles with a long difficult labor as the baby finally begins to come out of the womb, the weakened female begins babbling in Latin, a tongue she does not know. A druid, the only non-kin, attending the birth writes down her words that claim in the future three emperors from Rome will visit the island with one dying. Nectovelin is born while his mother dies. Brica¿s words live on after her known as the Prophecy¿. --- In 43 AD, Roman General Vespasian invades Britain. Nectovelin tries to make his mother¿s words come true, but fails in an attempt to assassinate Emperor Claudius. However, Nectovelin¿s descendents remain diligent waiting for the moment to insure the family Prophecy comes true. In 314, they may have their opportunity as Constantine the Great visits Britannia, but instead of murder, Thalius and others plead with the Emperor to embrace the original Christianity of the first century. By 418, the Roman armies have left the island leaving a vacuum in which British warlords fight one another and the invading Saxons. --- EMPEROR is an interesting historical fiction that spans four centuries so no character seems fully developed as events supersede people especially after Nectovelin fails at fulfilling the Prophesy. That twist of having Brica¿s descendents needing to make sure the Prophesy happens is a fascinating spin to the actual occurrences. Still somewhat overwhelming with over four hundred years of Britannia passing by in under four hundred pages, readers will marvel at Stephen Baxter¿s opening epic in the Time Tapestry series. --- Harriet Klausner