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The Whispers
Book One of The Gates Of Time

Dan Parkinson
Del Rey Books, 275 pages

The Whispers
Dan Parkinson
Dan Parkinson is probaly best known for his Forgotten Realms stories. But he has written a number of other books as well. His novels include Starsong (1989), The Gates of Thorbardin (1990), The Covenant of the Forge (1993), Hammer and Axe (1993), The Swordsheath Scroll (1994), The Gully Dwarves (1996), The Gates of Time (1998) and Timecop: Viper's Spawn (1998).

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Excerpt: The Whispers

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

Would you like to make more money? Sure, we all do. So, why not start your own business? A travel agency? Yeah, that can be risky, but your travel agency is going to be different. Your clients are heading for the past, not Fiji. That's right, you can convert your spare room into a time portal.

Lucas and Maude Hawthorn hadn't planned on changing careers, but when the mysterious Edwin Limmer enters (re-enters?) their lives, it's a proposition they can't turn down. In fact, they already run the agency, and do a darn fine job of it -- just ask their future satisfied customers.

Or listen to the white noise of the wraith-like Whispers. Barely heard, almost, but not quite seen, The Whispers are the managers of this unique travel agency.

When the time scale runs from 1703 to 3006, and the action bounces back and forth between those extremes, things can get a bit confusing. For the characters, though, not for readers; Parkinson keep it all nicely sorted out. Without ever layering on the exposition or interrupting the flow, he manages to effortlessly guide us through the centuries and the ancestries. Look! Nothing up his sleeve... but talent.

And a background as a western writer, that may be where Parkinson developed his flair for period pieces. His forays into the past read as true as the scenes of the present.

The Whispers is like the soon-to-retire Disney World's Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, it shakes you up and rattles your teeth, but it's all in play. Your heart may pound, but your shrieks are more than half in laughter. Even when the merciless villains are on the scene, it's difficult to invest real concern into the situation; you're just having too much fun to take it seriously.

That's not a complaint; I don't subscribe to the love-to-hate theory. Where is the joy in despising a character and seeing them get the upper hand every time? Parkinson gives you villains -- and they are quite loathsome -- but allows you the comfort of believing that things will turn out all right. It's a luxury I can get used to.

It's a series I can settle down with, too. As much as I liked Book One, I'm looking forward to the next volume. There is a pairing in The Whispers that cries out for a book of its own. Two intelligent, witty, and gutsy people that share a talent and a future. And a past. And a present. And, well... you get the picture. In a cast of endearing characters, they are standouts. Did I mention their sensuality?

Copyright © 1998 Lisa DuMond

Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. She co-authored the 45th anniversary issue cover of MAD Magazine. Previews of her latest, as yet unpublished, novel are available at Hades Online.

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