What if there really is more to life?
What if your life truly has a higher purpose? Most members of the human race are locked into two categories: those who like to believe that they are creators of their own destinies and that they also have some profound impact on their own slice of the world, all by their own design, or, they believe in higher powers; in a God or a vision thereof that sets the path for them and from which they cannot remove themselves , no matter how hard they try, as all is predestined by their chosen God. One thing that both classes have in common is that most humans are inherently self-absorbed, believing that they are special. Their offspring are always the "smartest" or the "most advanced for their age." Their choices are frequently right, and finding a wrong is not common. Or so, we believe.
But what if, you truly were special?
In Azarias Tor: The History Maker, the debut novel by Richard Abbott-Brailey, timelines and purposes are explored and identified with a wonderful flair for the dramatic and a keen sense of imagination. With a nod to science fiction icon Dr. Who and a crime-fighting twist reminiscent of Minority Report, Abbott-Brailey twists and bends the subplot of time travel into something rather unique, allowing endless avenues for the story to continue on while featuring strong characters with curious backstories.
Azarias Tor is a man living his life with one foot planted firmly in the past and another tenuously placed in the present. After the tragic losses of his mother and his police partner, he was then dealt a final devastating blow when his beloved wife Theresa was killed in a car accident. The lone survivor of his previous life as a content officer-of-the-law and husband, Azarias has chosen a path of education and routine. As a mentor and teacher to a group of young adults that have been seemingly given up on by previous educators, Azarias is attempting to settle into his life as a single man.
But old habits die hard and adjusting himself to fit onto this new path is not easy. He cannot forget or move past the softness that Theresa brought into his life, and the memories that they shared together continue to haunt him, years later. He sends her text messages on a regular basis and frequently tricks his mind into believing she is simply on vacation or at the store picking up groceries, while juggling the realization and reality that while vanity is prevailing, she really is gone. Trying to manipulate his grief into something more manageable, Azarias relies on routine and a solitary lifestyle to get him through. But despite his attempts at a quiet existence, something keeps poking through the canvas, needling him like a perpetual thorn in his side -- he keeps having these dreams where he's caught up in some other part of history. . . and they feel so real. And why does this strangely beautiful green-eyed woman keep popping into his life, seemingly caught on the periphery of both his dream life and his awake one?
In another facet of history, Saluki has risen up the ranks of the company her father manages rather smoothly, and she's a more than capable Commandant. As per her duty under the careful watch of the Superus Gabriel Damarov, she has come across something rather bizarre -- a person who should not be. Azarias Tor should technically not exist, not according to the laws that govern time traveling. It would appear that someone has broken one of the commandments and procreated with a person in the past to produce a child born to travel through time, and it is her job to ascertain the required measures and steps to bring Tor up to date with his new purpose. The Emergent has no clue that the emerald-eyed Saluki has been walking through his dreams with him, or that in fact what he perceives to be dreams are actually leaps through time, and that she is responsible for his current well-being. Bringing Azarias from the place of Emergent to Established is Saluki's mission, and one that she readily accepts, eager to continue proving herself to the powers-that-be.
Raphael Antinori also has a mission, albeit a private and self-assumed one. He has had his suspicions about the Gabriel Damarov for more time than he would like to admit, and things are finally coming to a head. In his role as Vice-Superus, he's aware that making any hasty moves might allude to the fact that he is simply after the top job, so he must tread lightly, building evidence and playing by the rules. But that doesn't mean that he hasn't taken private measures to protect himself, should the need arise. He has his own thoughts on how Azarias Tor has come to be created, but what he doesn't realize is that he is more involved than he could ever imagine.
When Azarias is confronted with his ability to time travel, he cannot help but yearn for more time with his beloved Theresa. As intriguing as his newfound teacher Saluki is, she cannot deter his mind from the comforts of his past. Throwing the rules out of the window, Azarias begins to create spurs and breaks in time, unknowingly causing ripples and new paths that will take years to sort out. Winding through the new histories that are spawning for all involved is proving tricky, especially with the nefarious dealings of the Superus and his hired assassin running as a tandem undercurrent to the plans of the heroes. Saluki and Azarius must band together with an unlikely partner and try to change the course of history in a way that will prevent certain disaster from occurring, while saving lives in the process. Can it be done? Will good prevail over evil? Or have the histories already been mapped out by a higher power?
In the sprit of H.G. Wells and Kurt Vonnegut, Azarias Tor is a grand attempt at time travel, and very nearly succeeds. I am hoping that this novel is a beginning instead of an end, as I was anxious for the main character and his female worthy advisor to strike out on more detailed and structured adventures. While the author is very well-versed in the areas of detail and picture painting, I felt that the descriptions of places and actions at times took over the plot and bogged down the adventure; I would have appreciated a heavier hand at editing. I yearned for more plot because I found the baseline story to be so interesting and a fresh take on time travel, and I really found the characters to be strong and complimentary of one another. Each and every character was different from the other and had their own personalities and nuances. I am always a fan of a sound and spirited female character, and Saluki certainly fit the bill; she is no damsel in distress. The character of Azarias was written with such a sensitive and thoughtful hand that I could feel the sadness and loss that he experienced in an acute manner. I appreciated that the author made Azarias so vulnerable, as that is something hard to come across with strong male leads. In fact, the romance of Azarias holding to his marriage vows even through his wife's death was a humbling act of romance. The subjects of Superus and Vice-Superus were also distinct and interesting characters, but I was not thoroughly convinced of the reasoning behind the deviant dealings of Gabriel Damarov. His views on power and his intent were not made fully clear, in my opinion, and seemed a bit all over the place as the story grew to its close. I felt that the author went down several avenues of subplot and did not finish them as he seemed to be caught up on further descriptions, which left me wanting for resolutions that I hope will come with future serial novels.
Azarias Tor: The History Maker is a book that I feel quite comfortable giving a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Due to the cliffhanger ending, I am hopeful for a sequel and for further input on the complex personal histories of the other characters and of where Azarias will ultimately end up -- will he use his newfound power for good, or for his own personal gain? I'm sure we will find out.