Author: Bee Ridgway
Provided Synopsis: “You are now a member of the Guild . There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life’s advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.
In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.
Review: In a matter of seconds Nick was transported through time from the Battle of Salamanca during the Napoleonic wars to England of 2013. It is revealed to him that he is gifted with the ability of time-travel; he must then enter a training type school to learn how to assimilate into the new age. In charge of his education is a group named The Guild, and one day they summon Nick to return to England of 2013. They need him: he is to be sent back to his England of 1815 to search for a talisman that can help place the river of time back into balance.
The second main character of The River of No Return is Julia Percy. Unlike Nick, she has never time traveled. Instead, she had a grandfather who was able to play with time, and who died with his final words to her being, “Pretend.” Soon Julia must rely on Nick and his family (whom she has known for all of her life) to safe-harbor her from her cousin and those who wish to know the secrets of her late-grandfather. But Julia has plenty of secrets of her own to learn along the way.
Time travel is a major aspect of this novel, as is the mythology behind what makes it possible. To me, the explanations could often be heavy-worded and difficult to comprehend. Most of the time I felt as if I were skimming the explanations and convincing myself that I understood when I really did not. In this sense I believe that the author could have simplified her mythology so that it would be easier for her readers to follow. Another problem with this novel was that it was too long. Rather than follow the plot that had been set out, she includes turmoil over a vote being taken in Parliament over the Corn Bill of 1815. This really lent nothing to the story from my point of view.
In the end, I find that I am ambivalent towards this novel. I enjoyed the character of Julia, along with what was revealed about her and her background, but I did not care for the rest of the story as a whole. This is the first of a trilogy, and I am not sure that I will even bother to continue with it.