Genre Reviews Science and Technology Science Fiction

Crucible of Time by Jeffrey A. Carver

9 December 2019
Crucible of Time Book Cover Crucible of Time
Jeffrey A. Carver
July 26, 2019

”> A galaxy in perilThe story begun in The Reefs of Time continues. The time-tides caused by Karellia's defenses have brought the malicious Mindaru AI out of the deep past into the present, threatening Bandicut and Li-Jared, who have arrived at the backwater planet--Li-Jared's homeworld--to find it on the brink of interplanetary war. Somehow they must forge a peace between Karellia and its neighboring world if the Mindaru threat is to be broken. Back on Shipworld, Ik and Julie Stone risk their lives a second time to stop the Mindaru at their source: a planet near the galactic core, a billion years in the past. Can Antares, the beautiful humanoid who also loves Bandicut, help them? What of Bria the gokat? And Amaduse, the most influential librarian in Shipworld?And in the deep time of the galaxy's early history, by the light of a million suns, the Mindaru do hideous things to an innocent species. The Mindaru plan for the altered creatures bears momentous possibilities even the deadly AI cannot predict. Time is critical. Time is elastic. And time is running out.Conclusion of the unmissable two-part "Out of Time" sequence begun in The Reefs of Time, from Jeffrey A. Carver, Nebula-nominated author of Eternity's End.

I was given a copy of “Crucible of Time” for an honest review, and I want to thank everyone involved with this treat. “Crucible of Time” is the sixth book in the series, and I have not read any of the previous novels, so I came into the story fresh.

Let me start with my first impressions, and I was confused. As a reader, it’s very tough to jump into a series in the sixth iteration without reading the previous books. Sometimes it can work; in others, it is far more complicated, such as “Crucible of Time.” The prologue, however, was exciting, and I felt it was a benchmarker for what prologues should be in Sci-Fi. I know many indie sci-fi books where the prologue is not as encapsulated as this one and is an infodump. The prologue is not at all an infodump; it’s rather startling and alluring and grabbed me into the world immediately.

Now, into the critiques, I go for “Crucible of Time,” and to start, I am going with “Story Structure, Foundation, and Presentation,” and I note an issue with pacing. There are portions of this novel that pace very slow and have minimal tension. I found a lack of character tension at times between character-specific scenes, and I found that it was also missing the tension in the overall plot at times. Sci-fi is tricky because the reader wants it to be a world that gathers their imagination where the science is sound but also wants it to be enjoyable to read. In this case, at times, it was all science and, thus, made the pace through those sections slow and tedious to read. I, however, am happy to report the science was sound, and I will get into that later.

Next, in the “Story Structure, Foundation, and Presentation” category, I go into “Foundation” and specifically the punctuation use choices. Sci-Fi is a lot similar to high fantasy in that the writer could make new languages or ways for people to communicate in the story. How does a writer come up with a unique way to showcase this new way or the language while delineating a difference between it and the standard narration? There are a million ways to do such a delineation, but for “Crucible of Time” was a series of slashes, and ellipsis and italics. In the occasional use of a paragraph or so, it’s not a big deal to combine all of those elements of punctuation. However, when it’s the majority of a chapter or several portions of the page, the italics especially can be painful to the eye on an e-reader. I had to put the book down a few times to let my eyes rest while those portions were in use, and while I understand why it was used, it didn’t make it an easy read at all for me. So if you have eye issues or you are also in bifocals, be aware of this. It might not be a fun time reading. Still, these scenes are very critical portions of science for the novel most often, or they are communication exposition for understanding the worldbuilding.

With that said, let me go into what I enjoyed about “Crucible of Time,” and I start with the “Lost in Translation” category. I never was confused about the story’s specific science, which was terrific. Everything presented was grounded in facts that made sense for the worldbuilding and had a lot of sound purposes. I found that the science and alien races all were done well, and I enjoyed how I never felt like researching or googling anything to figure out if it was possible or not.

Next, under “Whole Story,” this is a book that answers the questions in it, while also remains part of a series. I did find that for what happened in the book, it was resolved. There are a series of things I did not understand because they are part of the overall story, but again I didn’t read the other five books.

Under the category of “Cliche Much,” I didn’t find anything cliche or boring as far as idea use. The ideas were sound, and there were no weird “chosen one” issues or “time travel cliche” problems that can come with some sci-fi dealing with similar ideas. I loved the way time travel was handled here, I loved how the ideas made sense to it, and I enjoyed the problem-solving aspect to it.

Overall, this was a good novel. I don’t think I’m the target audience for “Crucible of Time” because it’s not my kind of sci-fi. But that said, I do know some people are going to love this book and the series. If you enjoy well-grounded principals of science in your Sci-Fi, ideas on how the geopolitical aspect of planetary warfare can impact things for generations and are into adventure between all of that, pick this up!


With that said, I am scoring “Crucible of Time,” a score of 92/100, which is a five-star review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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