02 November 2012

The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman

Kicking off a riveting sci-fi trilogy, National Book Award winner Pete Hautman plunges us into a world where time is a tool — and the question is, who will control it?

The first time his father disappeared, Tucker Feye had just turned thirteen. The Reverend Feye simply climbed on the roof to fix a shingle, let out a scream, and vanished — only to walk up the driveway an hour later, looking older and worn, with a strange girl named Lahlia in tow. In the months that followed, Tucker watched his father grow distant and his once loving mother slide into madness. But then both of his parents disappear. Now in the care of his wild Uncle Kosh, Tucker begins to suspect that the disks of shimmering air he keeps seeing — one right on top of the roof — hold the answer to restoring his family. And when he dares to step into one, he’s launched on a time-twisting journey — from a small Midwestern town to a futuristic hospital run by digitally augmented healers, from the death of an ancient prophet to a forest at the end of time. Inevitably, Tucker’s actions alter the past and future, changing his world forever.

If I had to sum this book up in one word it would be "Confusing".  Time travel novels are always at risk of having a disjointed sense of causation due to the back and forth skipping of events.  This novel tries to avoid this by following the chronology of the narrator, Tucker, but Tucker is often confused and thus so is the reader.  There is also pacing issues: it takes Tucker forever to figure out the disks and start the actual adventure that it feels like the book cuts off right in the middle of where it should be just gearing up to a climax.  Add in problematic characterization (Tucker felt young, more like 10 or 12 than 14, even when he was 17 and his mother's portrayal of mental illness seemed to have little basis in reality) and some personal issues I had with the presentation of religion, faith, technology, and humanity and you get a whole that is rather unsatisfying and incohesive.  I will attempt to read the next book to see if there is a more overarching plot that helps things make sense, but to the general reader I say give this a pass at least until the series is complete.


  1. Despite the disjointed narrative, it still sounds intriguing. After I finish my upcoming epic fantasy novel Everville The First Pillar, I definitely want to follow up with a time travel series!

  2. I bought this book with high hopes. I'm saddened to hear that it doesn't quite deliver. :(

    1. It didn't for me, but maybe it will work for you!