|Posted by Robert G. PIelke on March 26, 2013 at 12:25 PM|
A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor by Robert G. Pielke is both complex and gripping. It details the time travels of Edwin Blair, a history professor from 2203 who travels back to the middle of the Civil War in order to triumph against a group of alien invaders in his own time.
The history of the Civil War itself is both realistic and intricate and provides a background setting for the larger story, but more than that is proves to be vital to the overall story as history, as Blair knows it, begins to unravel.
Blair is a sympathetic individual trying to save the world from the invading “Pests” after they have already killed his wife and daughter among many others. The reader does not even think to question Blair when he details, to President Lincoln, General Lee and others, just how dangerous and deadly the invaders are, but in the end both the reader and Blair himself start to question his venomous hatred towards the aliens, helped along by the reactions of some of those from the 1860s. He is also losing who he is, as valuable memories, both general and personal, begin to disappear.
Less central than Blair, the Civil War era characters are also interesting and well developed, from Lincoln and Lee to less high-profile characters such as Cornelia Hancock and John Hay. I also appreciated that the characters had their own motivations and did not always jump on board with Blair’s agenda.
The fluidly of time is an intriguing aspect of this book, as not only the future, but also the present, and even the past could be threatened by the presence of time travel, but neither Blair nor the aliens are concerned about returning history to the status quo. Blair expresses some concern, but he is more concerned with the general survival of humanity as opposed to historical detail, even though it is one of his most powerful weapons.
The book moves along at a good pace, providing detail and setting up the story, but not dragging along too much. The book becomes more intense towards the end with the increased unravel of time and the readers realization that they might have been mistaken all along. The speech patterns are also authentically historical and I loved the historical detail throughout.
The theme of prejudice is dealt with in an interesting way, as Blair tries to remember that he is in a time before people were more tolerant of one another, but at the same time does not question his own opinion on the aliens. Time-travel is always interesting, but the way that it is played with here, where no detail is safe and saving history is not the goal, is both interesting and unique. It was also both touching and exciting to have the protagonist slowly lose details of his past and who he is.
This is the first book of a trilogy, and I look forward to learning more about Blair’s adventures through history, and what happens with both the Pests and history itself. If you like complex, intriguing stories that pay attention to detail, but also tell an exciting story with a an interesting main character and dilemma, then I think you will also like this book.