Dec 26, 2018IndyPL_SteveB rated this title 4.5 out of 5 stars
Very entertaining British time-travel story, first in a series, with a mixture of humor, tragedy, violence, and romance. Madeleine Maxwell (“Max”) is a young PhD historian who is offered the chance of a lifetime – to be part of a secret time travel group. The St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research does its research by actually traveling to the event it is researching. Even though the St. Mary’s Historians are only supposed to be observers, it is dangerous work. Max and her travel partner are nearly killed on their first experimental trip to the past in a supposedly safe venue.
And there are villains. Some renegade future St. Mary’s historian is also sending time travel squads back to the past for profit and they don’t want the other St. Mary’s staff interfering. Plot-wise, it is very complicated, as time travel stories always are. There is a lot of traveling around to set up situations that will protect or harm the various sides, with plot twists going 3-4 layers of time deep. Two things make the story work well: The author is quite adept at writing believable characters, especially Max and she writes in a white heat of excitement.
Note: The title is a famous quote (which the author misattributes to the historian Arnold Toynbee): “History is just one damned thing after another.” While that quote does occur in a Toynbee magazine article and book, it is because Toynbee himself was quoting it as a common phrase, then criticizing the viewpoint.