The Anubis Gates

  • by Tim Powers
  • Narrated by Bronson Pinchot
  • 15 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

When Brendan Doyle is flown from America to London to give a lecture on Samuel Taylor Coleridge, little does he expect that he will soon be traveling through time and meeting the poet himself. But Brendan could do without being stranded penniless in the teeming, thieving London of 1810.
Only the dazzling imagination of Tim Powers could have assembled such an insane cast of characters: an ancient Egyptian sorcerer; a modern millionaire; a body-switching werewolf; a hideously deformed clown; a young woman disguised as a boy; a brainwashed Lord Byron; and our hero, Brendan Doyle. The Anubis Gates took the fantasy world by storm a decade ago, and now fans can savor this Philip K. Dick Award winner all over again.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Yesterday… All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away

The Anubis Gates was—many years ago—my first exposure to the phantasmagorical writings of Tim Powers. I remember being struck by the uniqueness of his take on the fantasy genre; such intricate and convoluted plotting; such bizarre complexities of magical interactions; such wonderfully madcap characters. Now listening to it after these many years I am struck by the same impressions again. In the interim, I have read and listened to several other Tim Powers novels. All his works have in common the same baroque complexities of plotting and workings of magic; all are populated by the most weirdly wonderful characters.

The Anubis Gates employs time travel as an essential element of the story. I am a particular fan of time travel; once having spent an entire year reading all manner of time travel stories. As part of that year-long reading excursion into the temporal unknown I encountered the critical work on the subject: Time Machines by Paul J. Nahin. In his book Mr. Nahin sets forth a means of categorization for time travel stories. The time travel in The Anubis Gates must, according to Nahin, be classified as Fantasy and not Science Fiction because it does not employ a machine to accomplish the temporal displacement. More importantly, all the best time travel stories revolve around the idea of predestination: Can we change the past of alter the future? Nahin speculates that if time travel is possible then nothing can be changed because it already happened the way it happened. This has become to be called “Nahin Approved.” In this requirement at least, The Anubis Gates is Nahin Approved. The past cannot be changed. This feature becomes a plot element and the source of several ingenious twists that provide a great deal of fun.

The narration can often make, or break, an audiobook. In the case of The Anubis Gates the writing is top notch and the book needs no narration to make it an enjoyable experience. It stands as a great book even before being produced as an audiobook. Enter Bronson Pinchot, arguably the best narrator in the business, and this already fine book becomes an entertainment unsurpassed—few equals and no superiors. Books like this are, for me, the reason I listen to audiobooks. Pinchot is allowed to flex his vocal cords on this one; voicing the many bizarre and otherworldly characters in amazing fashion. Such is his talent that I cannot imagine how a full cast of actors, hired to give a portrayal of each individual character, could possibly be any improvement. Pinchot is the proverbial one-man-show! He can portray men, women and magically altered time-jumping Gypsies with equal aplomb. This novel is set in the early nineteenth-century London so one would expect a passable English accent. Pinchot provides convincing, and unique accents for each of the cast of thousands; a remarkable accomplishment.

My ranking of Tim Powers’ novels:

1. The Anubis Gates *
2. Declare
3. Last Call *
4. On Stranger Tides *
5. The Stress of Her Regard
6. Hide Me Among the Graves

* Narrated by Bronson Pinchot

Other fantastic performances by Bronson Pinchot:

Dead Six series, by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari
Matterhorn, by Karl Marlantes
The Grimnoir Chronicles series, by Larry Correia
The Brotherhood of the Wheel series, by R. S. Belcher
The President’s Vampire, by Christopher Farnsworth
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- Doug D. Eigsti

Time travel, magic, and alternate history

This venerable classic read very much like the era in which it was written, the 80s, when big multi-character epics with convoluted plots and worldbuilding that didn't have to make much sense were all the rage.

A bunch of Egyptian sorcerers in the 19th century try to summon Anubis to throw off the British yoke. This doesn't work, but instead it opens up a bunch of "gates" through which those able to detect them are able to time travel. In the 20th century, a millionaire finds out about the gates and recruits a bunch of rich poetry fans to pay him for a trip back to the 19th century to hear Samuel Taylor Coleridge speak in person. Except it turns out the millionaire actually had another plan - he wanted to meet a body-swapping werewolf who was running amok back then, to bribe him into letting him switch out of his terminally diseased body into a new one.

The main character is a classicist conned into going back in time as the subject matter expert with all the rich time travelers. He gets stranded when one of those Egyptian sorcerers sees the time travelers appear out of nowhere, figures out something is going on, and abducts him to interrogate him. Soon the sorcerer has his own plans, figuring he can use time travel for world domination too.

There is also a woman masquerading as a man while she hunts the werewolf serial killer who murdered her fiancee, a thieves guild, and various other dastardly characters mixing magic, time travel, and ancient gods in an alternate Victorian England.

The story was interesting and Tim Powers cleverly wound all the different threads together, handling the time travel well without worrying about the physics of it or potential paradoxes. Likewise, the reader must simply accept that magic and ancient Egyptian spirits exist, because. It all blends together into a lengthy and imaginative epic.

I only gave it three stars because in the end, the characters wouldn't have interested me in reading more of their adventures, and the plot sometimes seemed to be a circus performance for the reader's benefit, without even a pretense at worldbuilding. But it was a fun listen and I might try something by Powers again.

Bronson Pinchot, as always, made this a very enjoyable audio to listen to.
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- David

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-12-2016
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.