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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 *
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
115 of 121 people found this review helpful
Having read it in the past I looked forward to sitting back and having the story told to me. I was not disappointed.
My only criticism would be, I didn't care for the tone of voice used for Doyle. Otherwise, it was a wild and twisting journey.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful