Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite
The year is 2143 and planet Earth is at peace. The population is stable and protected albeit within firm guidelines. Individuals have enough food, shelter and unlimited healthcare, enabling them to live well into their second century. The authorities even provide genetically matched and psychologically compatible partners so why has suicide reached epidemic proportions? Many are finding the stable, meaningless existence of this cosy world excruciatingly tedious. Some indulge in dangerous sports, some take their own lives and, in an age where time travel has become possible, some choose to travel back in time to experience combat shoulder-to-shoulder with the warriors of ancient tribes. Guilds have been organised specialising in specific periods (the Stone Age, Bronze Age and so on), authorised to train and transport individuals back in time.
A Time For Glory by M.L. Strong opens with the central character, Logan, fighting for his life as the Saxon army which he has joined is ambushed by an overwhelming horde of Danes. With him is his shield brother and fellow warrior Dawson, and a third combatant, also from the future, a rather nasty piece of work called Arthos who likes to collect body parts -
ears, noses and such - as mementos of his exploits. After a desperate battle in which Dawson is badly injured, the trio manages to get back to their own time. Inspired and excited rather than daunted by their experience, they start training for another ‘jump’ - this time to join battles between some early German tribes and invading Gauls. But the events of this trip cause bitter divisions, splitting the shield brothers and sending them in different directions until Dawson becomes trapped in a time frame where Iceni warriors, led by British Queen Boudicca, are fighting the Roman invaders. Despite their differences, Logan must try to convince a reluctant guild to mobilise and mount a rescue for his stranded comrade, but time is running out. Can they possibly prevail against the might of the Roman army?
I was surprised by the basic subject matter of A Time For Glory, a storyline tackling issues around friendship, honour, comradeship and bravery in battle - subjects somewhat out of tune with the current prevailing science fiction trends. I was initially taken aback by the macho antics of the central characters, whose principal reason to travel back in time was to put themselves in extreme danger and kill as many people as possible. But, strangely, I seemed to understand why they were doing it. I am not a soldier and have never been involved in combat, but I know that we males are designed to hunt, gather, defend and protect. A life of coddled security would drive most men crazy. As a species we seem to need challenges that test our capabilities, our intellect and our strength. Without these challenges life lacks any real meaning. With this work, M.L. Strong has prompted me to look again at my basic nature and think carefully about what life would be like without those challenges. For me, A Time For Glory has been a deeply thought-provoking book and I urge anyone trying to understand the male psyche to read it.