Title: Traveller Inceptio
Author: Rob Shackleford
“Phil wasn’t sure what happened next. The scanners hummed faintly as expected, and the screens were closely monitored for a result. What was expected was a three-dimensional representation of the suitcase. Allan would then use his software to manipulate and slice the colour-coded image at will. That would have been a very successful test. What happened was the case simply disappeared.”
Traveller Inceptio is a thriller-cum-historical novel which details what happens when a time travelling device is accidentally made and a man is sent 1,000 years into the past. Intriguing, right? The device, initially created to scan objects, suddenly makes them disappear, and after testing it on suitcases, a cat, and then eventually a human, its creators suddenly realise where, or rather when, the objects are disappearing to. The novel flips between the group of student scientists who’ve inadvertently created the device, and the events which unfold in the past as a result of people travelling back there. What ensues is a battle for the device and and a team trying to prepare to travel into the unknown. But as the blurb of this novel states, if you were sent 1,000 years into the past, would you survive?
The premise of this was so interesting and I was excited to begin reading it. I will say, that when my copy arrived, I was definitely intimidated by the size of it; it’s just shy of 450 pages and larger than a regular paperback, plus the font size isn’t exactly big. That being said, I adore A Little Life which is 720 pages with minuscule font – so I really shouldn’t judge a book by its size. ANWAY… as I said, I was very intrigued by this plot, and for the first few chapters I was definitely engaged with how the storyline would unfold. I really like that Shackleford jumped between perspectives in the present, and that of the travellers in Saxon England.
Shackleford’s writing was well formed and eloquently presented, but, there was just a lot of it. I really found myself getting bogged down with just how long the descriptions were, and found it baffling that, for example, the event of a man getting off a flight, took almost two pages to describe. This also led to some of the passages just being rather confusing, probably because they were more convoluted than they needed to be, which is a shame, because it also made my interest waver as well.
On the positive side, I really liked the banter and connection between the group of students; Yeti and Mel were my favourites and I thought Shackleford did a very good job of creating plausible characters and character relationships. I also thought that it was evident how much research had gone into the writing as well, which always makes a book more interesting because there’s an element of education in reading it as well.
Overall, I liked what Shackleford was trying to achieve with this novel, and I think the idea was interesting and original. However, the execution just meant that I was left with a sense of wanting more from this novel, while at the same time, becoming a little bored with how long it took for events to unfold. Where this book fails is that the beginning and end are the most interesting parts, while the chapters sandwiched in the middle don’t really hold your attention. There’s potential in his writing, and perhaps it’ll just take experience, but I definitely wasn’t as captivated by this novel as I wanted to be.