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Read The Ivanhoe Gambit (2013)

The Ivanhoe Gambit (2013)

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3.86 of 5 Votes: 2
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The Ivanhoe Gambit (2013) - Plot & Excerpts

Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews During my teen years back in the early 1980s, my reading consisted of D&D modules/rule books, comics (mainly Marvel), “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, and Star Wars novels. Everything else I sort of stayed away from. But then one day I stumbled on this book by Simon Hawke.I mean, you have to admit that is a really cool cover. Knight holding a shield and a tommy gun does, sort of, grab your attention. So naturally, I bought it and took it home, and never regretted the decision, because this time-traveling scifi serial began my descent into bibliophile-hood.The central idea in the Time Wars series is that wars are outlawed in the 27th Century. Well, at least, wars in the present. Instead of laying waste the world, countries have agreed to resolve their disputes by "clocking" soldiers from the present into conflicts of the past. Each nation sends their soldiers back to the agreed upon conflict, and whichever nation has the most soldiers left alive at the end of the war wins. Obviously, there are also “referees” monitoring the count to decide who “won.”This seemed like a great compromise for a war weary Earth. It was simple, elegant, and effective. The huge military-industrial complex kept getting to fleece humanity for profits. Countries still continued sending young people off to die over ridiculous political issues. But there would be no more collateral damage to anything in the world. All the dying and destruction would happen in the past during a historic war, so a few more dead bodies really wouldn’t change anything. And since the “experts” said nothing the soldiers from the present did could change history, time wars seemed absolutely safe.Lucas Priest is one of these modern soldiers, and as a member of the U.S. Army Temporal Corps, he has marched with the Roman legions against Hannibal, fought against Crazy Horse with Custer’s 7th Cavalry, and even rode along with Attila the Huns’ horde. But none of those conflicts have prepared him for what he is about to get into, for it seemed that the “experts” were wrong. About many things. Specifically that history could be changed. In fact, it seems that history could not only be changed it could be absolutely, totally screwed up until no one in the present would even exist anymore – 27th Century Earth disappearing like an unused thread snipped from a pair of pants. Everything Lucas knows erased from history.Thankfully, Temporal Corps has uncovered this plot by one of the “referees” to change history. Unfortunately, discovering the plot and stopping it are two different things. And since two elite commando teams have already tried and failed, Lucas Priest finds himself drafted into the third and finally team; his part being to impersonate a historical figure close to King Richard, so that he can locate the traitor. But can he find the madman and stop him before time runs out? And can he do it without changing history himself?I really enjoyed this book back in the '80s. It was a genre blending work of history, fantasy, literary classics, military and science fiction. So much so that it is difficult to describe, because in one chapter you will have military time travelers conversing in a future world only to see them in the next chapter playing out roles as Ivanhoe or Robin Hood, attempting to mimic these people from history without letting their own personalities and feelings bleed through. The fact that sometimes these classic adventure characters were not portrayed in their traditional light made it even more exciting. And that is why The Ivanhoe Gambit was such a sharp, witty, twisted, fun book to read back then and still is fun to reread today. Oh, by the way, if you enjoy this book, there are several more novels in the series – each focusing on the same band of time traveling soldiers attempting to fix some temporal screw up or other by exchanging places with or interacting with different literary and historical characters. While they are out of print, I personally think they’d be well worth a buy at your local used bookstore or on Amazon.Have fun reading!

Summary: time travel from the 27th century to the time of Robin Hood and Ivanhoe in a plot involving a madman intent on rewriting history.Having revisited The Adventures of Robin Hood earlier this year, I was open to a science fiction time travel romp in the Sherwood Forest. This book was mentioned in a discussion thread related to the book Replay. For my tastes it was a good recommendation. The author Simon Hawke has recently made arrangements with Amazon to republish titles from his Time Wars series from the 1980's. This is my first introduction to this author and series.Reminiscent of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, the story features knights in armor and weapons from the future. I enjoyed the banter and camaraderie of the adjustment team. The United States Army Temporal Corps of the 27th century as envisioned in a 1980's era science fiction book is reminiscent of the all volunteer army experiment conducted in the U.S. after the draft was abolished in the Seventies.The author adds interesting detail and twists to a familiar story. A mercenary knight that is said to be Basque was a nice touch--with a most interesting back story. A Jewish maiden in need of redemption adds character interest. Intrigue and conspiracy with layers--it made for an entertaining read that was just the right length.

What do You think about The Ivanhoe Gambit (2013)?

Both my husband and I read enjoyed the unique, genre bending premise of this so much. It is one of those rare books that everyone we have passed it on to has also enjoyed it. I think it is because it is so hard to pigeonhole, it crosses so many genres, historical, fantasy, literary classics, military and so on. It is so hard to describe clearly. For book one you take characters from Ivanhoe, with that dash of Robin Hood, mix in military time travelers who must temporarily take the place of some of the characters to save history and time, stir and bake. Yup, that about sums it up! But yet, it doesn't, they are so much more than that. As the time travelers are portraying these characters or people from history and their own feelings start to get in the way, or the bad guy really makes it difficult to keep things as we know they are supposed to be. It's the stories within the stories and history that make it so fun and intriguing.Each book in the series has our intrepid band of time travelers exchanging places with or interacting with different literary and historical characters. These slim volumes pack a lot of adventure, history, literature and time travel into a many layered delight. These are out of print but well worth the search.
—Dawn (& Ron)

Looking to change gears and dip into something fun.I think that if I were younger (Ok I admit it, I color my hair) I would have liked this book more. It was fun and had many interesting possibilities, however it is very undeveloped. I don't blame the author (how do you expound on big ideas as well as grow characters in 75K words? Darn those formulas) Having read some of his other works I would bet the author would have preferred to triple the word count. So here are my recommendations, if you are under thirty years of age I give it 4 stars; it was fun. Over thirty 30 3 stars, it could have been so much more.
—Peter Meredith

There are some books that I periodically re-read, and this book is one of them. It also happens to one of the first books that I brought on my own after leaving home (back in the stone age before ereaders and the internet in every home). The Ivanhoe Gambit is the first book in the Time Wars series. Set in an universe where time travel has been discovered, Hawke uses famous stories of fiction (such as Ivanhoe and Robin Hood) as historical events. In the case of this book, I have never read the original version of the Ivanhoe story, but I am familiar with the history of the Crusades (more so now than when I first read this novel). One of the reasons that I like this novel is that it is a good example of the literary equivalent of a television pilot--the hook that sells the rest of the series--one that could have stood alone if necessary. One of the frustrating things about the way that the print market was set up was the fact that a book series lived or died based on the sales of the first book (just like TV decides based on the number of eyeballs that watch a pilot episode); during the 1980s, there were several science fiction series that had only the very first book published. A couple of the series I loved based solely on their initial books, despite the fact that none of the rest of the series were issued...or maybe even written. And one of the frustrating things about such failed literary series (provided that you are willing to admit science fiction into the literary world) was the number of loose ends that some of those first books left dangling. This is not the case with The Ivanhoe Gambit; outside of one loose end, and it can be read as an actual closure of a loose thread if one pays the "what if no more of the series was published," the book is self-enclosed. One can read this book as a stand-alone book. As such, this book is many ways, my model for what first book in a series should be like. Given the fact that I have read this book a dozen times (at least), it should be no surprise that I give it five stars.[Disclosure: I paid a whole dollar and some sales tax in 1985 to buy an used copy of this book--a copy that I still own.]
—Morgan Eckstein

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