WarningMight contain spoilers.

A very interesting concept but quite an atrocious book. I gave up a little over halfway through. Between this and The Long Earth , I’ve come to understand that the problem is Stephen Baxter: he writes badly and in a boring fashion about compelling concepts.

The entirety of the story with the Mongols is quite awful. The description of their lives is nauseating. One might put that down to the time, but the story carefully avoids emphasizing what must be an equal or worse lack of hygiene in Alexander’s army after the very first time. Naturally, the only woman climbs up the social hierarchy by sleeping with Gengis Khan, which she experiences as sexual assault and darkly proclaims she will avenge someday.

I suppose the idea is to set up the Greeks, Macedonians, and small contingent of comparatively modern humans as the heroes while the Mongols, with Sable at their side, are the villains, all of them converging on Babylon. Perhaps Sable kills Kolya at some point, or if not, he betrays her and defects.

It’s odd to feature Rudyard Kipling as a character. The astronauts’ time in the shuttle after the events is disgusting. Biesa’s phone is strange in both its limitations and its lack thereof, considering the absence of any sort of network—how long can it maintain its power for?

I’ve never encountered the name Abdulkadir before. I like it.