The Temporal Knights
Richard D. Parker

The first victims died on the fourteenth of June and before the month was out every human female, young boy and non-virile male was dead. Five billion people in all. In the wake of the tragedy came unbridled grief, disease and chaos…and finally Martial Law.
Extinction was staring Mankind in the face. It took over a year to stabilize what was left of society, and then another full year before the first test tube baby girl was born. The entire world rejoiced! The Laws of Nature bent to the brilliance of the human mind. Mankind, that bizarre species of primate, had somehow managed to cheat death and endure…and then the aliens fell upon the planet in force.
Countless hordes of enemy soldiers poured down from the heavens. The invaders attacked and killed without hesitation, but they also died by the millions. The remaining human beings fought back desperately, but the enemy came in endless waves, relentlessly killing and destroying everything that was human. For five long years the battle raged on, until once again humanity was threatened with extinction. All appeared to be lost. Less than a thousand human beings lingered on earth, when a strange and bizarre solution presented itself. Discovered deep within the alien technology was the key to life, the key to time and the key to victory. The last of Mankind would move back through the ages to the year 893, to England, during the reign of King Alfred the Great. There, they would drag the dark ages into the light, speed up the process of enlightenment, and prepare Mankind for the coming battle. With luck, they would truly be ready when the alien invaders finally came again.
Those still alive would risk everything and cross over; it was that, or oblivion.
“We’re like Twain’s Yankee,” Major Thane commented.
“You know, Twain’s Yankee, ‘The Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.’ If we succeed in going back, our situation will be very similar.” Thane explained.
Colonel Lemay grunted. “Yes, but this time we’ll be bringing along machine guns and hand grenades.”
“And don’t forget the flamethrowers,” Moore added with a laugh.

The Temporal Knights book cover

There were a few proofing errors which truly irritated me in this one, things like ad nausea, sweat meats, and use of the word accent instead of ascent. Then there were the picky issues with technology; Their computers are idiotic, or perhaps the men just get a kick out of saying computer as it seems to hear them just fine when they omit the word.

The second thing to really get my goat was the dialect of the locals. Forsooth was used quite often (34 times, to be precise). Na, Thee, ye and tis abound, even when the locals are thinking, which is a bonus for authenticity but there’s no evidence provided to show that Parker’s done any research on the speech of the period the book visits.

But, all that aside, I cannot get the sanctimonious, riding in on a white horse attitude of the Americans out of my head. Clearly, Parker implies that any impact from a future US visitor is going to immediately take ninth century England into a “cultured” state of affairs. This is compounded by the absolutely ridiculous ending to the book, which repeats the assumption on a grander scale, and then a stranger appears (literally, a group of characters we’ve not seen just pop up in the epilogue) and mention the title, word-for-word, of another of Parker’s books.

I came away laughing at the sheer inanity of the whole thing. Parker did a really good prologue; I’ll give him that, but I kept reading for the historical, technological and psychological flimflam.

Published by Sean Randall

I am an avid reader, technologist and disability advocate living in the middle of England with my wife, daughter and pets.

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