Chelsea Mancilla, Guest Writer
Adventure awaits in the pages of my latest read, “Time’s Children” by D.B. Jackson. This is the first book of “The Islevale Cycle,” set in the fantastic world of Islevale. The story’s protagonist, Tobias Doljan, is barely 15 years old when he is summoned to be the Court Walker of Daerjen, and happens to be the only Walker available at Windhome palace. Jackson will seamlessly introduce you to the world of Islevale, while using third-person omniscient and alternating between distinct perspectives.
In Tobias’ world, there are three kinds of Travelers: Spanners (teleportation), Crossers (intangibility), and Walkers (time-travel). Novitiates are contracted by kingdoms to act as assassins and diplomats. A Walker can go back in time to speak with their employers about the consequences of their actions or inactions. A Walker’s power is balanced by their weakness, for they must always age according to how much time they have travelled to and from the past.
Tobias has been trained to not only use his time-traveling powers, but to also be a diplomat and a warrior. He uses his education to note the different sails while his transport ship is in harbor, “Smaller warships bore other colors: green and silver for Herjes, black and purple for Rencyr and yellow and red, which Tobias could not place.” I found Tobias to be a relatable character. He has just the right amount of confidence to enter the pending adventure, without being too arrogant or doubtful. He also has a strong sense of duty, which is shown when he refuses a generous job offer by the captain of the merchant ship that takes him to Daerjen. These are important qualities for a protagonist that pushes him to succeed.
The author shows early on that he has very little connection with his parents or his original home of Redcove. Tobias recalls his lack of grief when his younger sister dies. It is implied that he did not have time to bond with her since he left Redcove when he was five years old. Tobias’ strongest relationship is with Windhome, an establishment that trains youth to be Court Travelers. It’s important to note, that for the sake of the plot, Tobias cannot be strongly attached to his family so that he can be a Walker; A job that comes with many risks to his safety and longevity. His instructors are the people that have the greatest influence on Tobias, and his fellow novitiates are the people he is most familiar with.
The multitude of perspectives, including Court Spanner Quinnel Orzili, keeps the reader informed and entertained every moment. I think the most surprising factor in this book is how the plot doesn’t rely on direct confrontations with a villain. The Oaqamaran king, Pemin, must act through his assassins to accomplish his goals. As a Walker, Lenna sacrifices years from her lifespan to complete missions for the autarch. I could not stop myself from sympathizing with Orzili and Lenna. Orzili’s vulnerability is revealed early on in the book,
“She was his love, his desire, and as he’d been reminded more than once during this day’s encounter with the autarch, his greatest weakness, the one element in his life that could un-man him at any moment.”
This book captures important themes, including the consequences of our actions. Tobias’ mission is to prevent the ensuing war between the Oaqamaran and the Daerjen kingdoms, which threatens to disable kingdoms of their sovereignty and the people of their independence. Tobias will struggle with the consequences of his presence and actions in the past, which sets off unanticipated consequences throughout history. This book has proven to be extremely satisfactory. I believe the plot generates excitement and empathy. I hope you’ll consider it next time you’re on the hunt for a great read.