‘Time’s Demon’ Review: Where Smart Storytelling & Masterful Worldbuilding Meet

Time’s Demon is a riveting sequel to my favorite fantasy novel of 2018, Time’s Children. The new addition to the Islevale series goes beyond the initial excitement of time travel, magical abilities and the intrigue of war to dive deeper into the dark mysteries of this masterfully created world. Gone are the trappings of youth, the thrill of joining the big leagues to use magic  in new and forbidden ways. The deeds have been done, our main characters have travelled back an unimaginable distance, and the ramifications of their actions are continuing to unfold. 

FASCINATING DEMONS & BEINGS GALORE

I was elated to get an expansive background on the many beings roaming the shores and seas of Islevale. All were introduced briefly in the first book, but we get to know them deeply. Jackson gives us a chance to form relationships with these characters, to see them as more than demons who haunt humans and take what they want without regard for human life. In reality, they are bound to a strict code, living in respect of the other Ancients who roam the lands. In the Tirribin, we see beings who have never been allowed to mature, who are governed by their own childish notions about respect and the value of life. In the Arrokad, we see deep knowledge and power, mixed with a propensity to deceive at every turn. Some are kinder than others but, overall, it’s clear deception is their primary game. I find the Shonla particularly fascinating. These demons roam about the seas as clouds, descending on unsuspecting ships and stealing screams from sailors. While initially presented as terrifying beings, they have a soft side, occasionally preferring song to fear. The Belvora, or winged bird-like demons, remain as questionable as ever, living up to the short-sighted connotations of the word demon. Overall, the story is rich with backstory and insight into the inner-workings of this much deeper society.

HIGHER STAKES

The initial escape is long gone and Time’s Demon takes us into the long game. Tobias and Mara are on the run, constantly under attack from humans and demons alike. It’s a tricky game, as they quickly discover, and the ensuing suspense gives rise to any number of intense situations. Their part of the story keeps the overall narrative flowing, adding an underlying fear that the infant princess won’t make it to her eventual throne. Love is also thrown into the mix, pairing Tobias and Mara into a deeper connection than either may have expected. This increases the stakes and the suspense masterfully.

A LOOK INTO THE PAST

The addition of our villain’s backstory provided a surprising layer to the story. We see how he came to be the Spanner he is today. It’s hard not to sympathize with him after seeing his unguarded past. We see his early struggles, the slow building of his skills, and the eventual surprise that sends him along the path to the super assassin he becomes. 

THE PERILS OF TIME TRAVEL

The most brilliant addition comes in the form of deep conversation about time travel and the implications on various timelines. Whereas the first book offered false hope about fixing a future, the second shows that, no matter how hard one works, that timeline is lost. It’s a common acceptance among many time travel narratives, but the first book left a sliver of hope that the picturesque future from whence our protagonist came could be restored to its former glory. We see the perils in the story of Lenna, the Spanner who set the altered future in motion. Her mistake of poorly timed travel creates a paradox that’s as confusing as it is fascinating. We see the two versions of herself battling for acceptance, one’s mind going quickly, the other trying to plan her escape back to her time. Overall, we see time travel as the danger that it is. To a new Walker, it may seem glamorous and exciting. To an artificially aged Walker, the dangers are all too real.

Time’s Demon
By D. B. Jackson
Published by Angry Robot

NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

Photo by Josiah Weiss on Unsplash

Author: Jacob A. Olson

Writing about science fiction and fantasy at ReviewsandRobots.com! I write reviews on novels, short stories, television, movies, etc. and throw in a few articles and thoughts as well.

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