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The white light surrounded her, exuding from the ground within the circle. The mist rose towards the sky to form a billowing cloud. From within the largest stone a ball of blue light steadily made its way towards her. Late one evening, a car accident leaves Tory - a daughter of a prominent history professor - stranded near a ring of stones in the English countryside. She re The white light surrounded her, exuding from the ground within the circle. The mist rose towards the sky to form a billowing cloud. From within the largest stone a ball of blue light steadily made its way towards her. Late one evening, a car accident leaves Tory - a daughter of a prominent history professor - stranded near a ring of stones in the English countryside. She resolves to spend the night at the sacred site; a black belt in Tae-kwon-do, Tory holds little fear for her safety... But across the vortex of time and space, she is being watched. The Merlin knows of the legend Tory is to become, and through the wisdom of the Old Ones, teleports her back to the Dark Age. Prince Maelgwyn of Gwynedd and his band of knights stumble across this mysterious woman dressed in jeans and a leather jacket. Believing she is the witch of the stones, they threaten to kill her. Rising to her own defence, Tory challenges the Prince's champion to unarmed combat. With her superior fighting skill she easily overwhelms the warrior, winning the admiration of the Prince, and changing the course of British history forever.


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The white light surrounded her, exuding from the ground within the circle. The mist rose towards the sky to form a billowing cloud. From within the largest stone a ball of blue light steadily made its way towards her. Late one evening, a car accident leaves Tory - a daughter of a prominent history professor - stranded near a ring of stones in the English countryside. She re The white light surrounded her, exuding from the ground within the circle. The mist rose towards the sky to form a billowing cloud. From within the largest stone a ball of blue light steadily made its way towards her. Late one evening, a car accident leaves Tory - a daughter of a prominent history professor - stranded near a ring of stones in the English countryside. She resolves to spend the night at the sacred site; a black belt in Tae-kwon-do, Tory holds little fear for her safety... But across the vortex of time and space, she is being watched. The Merlin knows of the legend Tory is to become, and through the wisdom of the Old Ones, teleports her back to the Dark Age. Prince Maelgwyn of Gwynedd and his band of knights stumble across this mysterious woman dressed in jeans and a leather jacket. Believing she is the witch of the stones, they threaten to kill her. Rising to her own defence, Tory challenges the Prince's champion to unarmed combat. With her superior fighting skill she easily overwhelms the warrior, winning the admiration of the Prince, and changing the course of British history forever.

30 review for The Dark Age

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Truly awful. Mary Sue, uh, I mean, Tory is at the same time conveniently one of the few modern speakers of early medieval Welsh, a black belt in martial arts - and a shallow, ignorant idiot who the author would have us believe is a great woman of destiny. The editing is terrible, but then, the manuscript probably started out worse (hard though that is to believe). There aren't many good places to go when you start out with an author capable of using, or misusing, two 17th-century English words ( Truly awful. Mary Sue, uh, I mean, Tory is at the same time conveniently one of the few modern speakers of early medieval Welsh, a black belt in martial arts - and a shallow, ignorant idiot who the author would have us believe is a great woman of destiny. The editing is terrible, but then, the manuscript probably started out worse (hard though that is to believe). There aren't many good places to go when you start out with an author capable of using, or misusing, two 17th-century English words ("thee" and "hast") to represent the fact that people are speaking early medieval Welsh - a fact that's abundantly clear from context without this marker, which is therefore simply annoying. Especially since those two words are used without any regard for grammar - they are always "thee" and "hast" regardless of their role in the sentence or the subject of the sentence. And there's no sense of genuine history. Tory convinces her Welsh prince that the "state" needs to educate the children. What "state" would this be? What books would they use, hundreds of years before printing? What would peasant children conceivably do with their ability to read? And how would their parents feel about not having their essential labour while they learn this unneeded skill? I'm not even sure why I finished this unoriginal and muddled piece of vague New Agery. I certainly don't know how it, and a number of sequels, managed to get published.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eunice

    The No. 1 problem I had with this novel: What people think Old English is: Thou art indeed a fine lad, prithee yonder! Wherefore arest mine pantalones? What it actually is: Syððan ǽrest wearð feasceaft funden, hé þæs frófre gebád, wéox under wolcnum weorðmyndum þáh, oð þæt him ǽghwylc ymbsittendra ofer hron-ráde hýran scolde, gomban gyldan. Þæt wæs gód cyning! pros: * fast paced (there was always something happening in each paragraph) * ancient Wales, need I say more? * hot guys - all incredibly f The No. 1 problem I had with this novel: What people think Old English is: Thou art indeed a fine lad, prithee yonder! Wherefore arest mine pantalones? What it actually is: Syððan ǽrest wearð feasceaft funden, hé þæs frófre gebád, wéox under wolcnum weorðmyndum þáh, oð þæt him ǽghwylc ymbsittendra ofer hron-ráde hýran scolde, gomban gyldan. Þæt wæs gód cyning! pros: * fast paced (there was always something happening in each paragraph) * ancient Wales, need I say more? * hot guys - all incredibly fit * fascinating idea and story-line * unicorns * easy to read cons: * using a broken-fake-ye-olde English when characters are supposedly speaking Old Welsh * minor grammatical errors (maybe not errors per se, but a weird choice of words/syntax/punctuation) * unicorns?!?! * when Harding clarified terms, she'd put them in brackets afterwards (like this) instead of using a glossary at the end, and I felt this broke up the flow of the writing (you see?). * the use of 'here here!' instead of 'hear hear!' * [not sure if I can really call this a 'con' because in a way, it's just a part of the author's tale] the 'New Age' positive energies and horoscope stuff * how everyone just got paired off into these perfect couplings (I guess it sort of makes sense if they're one of those reincarnated ones) * it felt a bit unrealistic when a character would do something a bit shitbloke and then Tory would tell them off - then suddenly they'd see the error of their ways, apologise and promise to be more open-minded/loving/respectful/not shit. Like, is she a god or something? oh wait.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joybell

    This book first came to my attention as a very young teen, and I was instantly enthralled. The elements of time travel, metaphysics and romance captured my attention. It was my first taste of fantasy that was 'easy-to-swallow'. In fact, I begged my best friends boyfriend to let me borrow the additional books in the series and I was captivated all over again. As an adult, reading it all over again the book is quite flawed in the typical ways - one dimensional characters, unrealistic (yes, I know i This book first came to my attention as a very young teen, and I was instantly enthralled. The elements of time travel, metaphysics and romance captured my attention. It was my first taste of fantasy that was 'easy-to-swallow'. In fact, I begged my best friends boyfriend to let me borrow the additional books in the series and I was captivated all over again. As an adult, reading it all over again the book is quite flawed in the typical ways - one dimensional characters, unrealistic (yes, I know it's fantasy, but even the realistic parts were unrealistic!). It almost reads like a movie script, which I believe was the intent of Traci Harding when she wrote it. The main character, Tory, is so perfect she makes me feel a bit unwell. She's amazingly beautiful (OK, I can handle that), is an expert in tae-kwan-do, brilliant at Brythanic history, and seems to just...accept that she's been transported to the dark ages. All of that I could probably manage, expect that she can be a total b*tch when she wants to be. And wears jeans and steel-capped boots underneath her beautiful medieval gowns. I can't handle that at all! Don't ask me to tell you why, I don't know. That aside, I will still rate this as one of my all-time-faves. Simply because it made me interested in a whole realm of different subjects. It is a very, very, very easy to read book and the premise and plot is different. I just wish there was more development of the characters, and they weren't to cut-and-paste. It just...didn't feel deep enough. I've read some amazing YA books that are written in a manner more suited for publishing. I'd recommend this book to start-out teenagers, and children who are advanced readers. Maybe even adults who are developing a desire to get into reading fiction. Off topic, but I think the other reasons why I was quite obsessed with this book was because Tory was Australian, and she was 27. Which lead me to think 'There's hope for me yet!'. And, I suppose to some extent, there still is! Ultimately, this book made me imagine and dream. It's exciting, fast-paced, and funny.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Read these series about twice a year just because I love these books so much. The story is amazing, the journey the characters are on is wonderful, and I still laugh, smile and cry... each and every time I read these books!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amber Craig

    I got given this book from a friend of my parents before they moved overseas and I threw it on the bookshelf for a while. When I got the chance to read it I loved it and I've since re-read it quite a few times. I love the storyline and I love the characters!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nikk the Sapphired Book Dragon

    Given this is my favourite book of all time, I have read this book a dozen times over the last 20 years however having just read This Present Past, which is essentially a prequel to this, I really needed to read this again with all my new knowledge. Despite knowing this story so well, I still get pulled in, every single time, and this time was no different. This story has everything I love in a good story: time travel, romance, action and a story line that keeps you completely immersed from begin Given this is my favourite book of all time, I have read this book a dozen times over the last 20 years however having just read This Present Past, which is essentially a prequel to this, I really needed to read this again with all my new knowledge. Despite knowing this story so well, I still get pulled in, every single time, and this time was no different. This story has everything I love in a good story: time travel, romance, action and a story line that keeps you completely immersed from beginning to end. Also having new knowledge from my previous read meant i got some whole new insights into some events while others took on new significance. This is a book I will keep coming back to, year after year. Still most definitely a 5 star read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I am wary of time-travel books at the best of times. At the worst - well, books like The Ancient Future (even the title makes me cringe) slip under the radar. (Oh, the lure of half-off books at the Salvos.) The first thing that strikes one as odd about this book is the language, the constant use of 'thee's and 'thou's and 'art's which are no doubt only employed to help the author distinguish between the use of english and welsh in the dialogue. For me, it was ridiculous, and confusing anyway. Ne I am wary of time-travel books at the best of times. At the worst - well, books like The Ancient Future (even the title makes me cringe) slip under the radar. (Oh, the lure of half-off books at the Salvos.) The first thing that strikes one as odd about this book is the language, the constant use of 'thee's and 'thou's and 'art's which are no doubt only employed to help the author distinguish between the use of english and welsh in the dialogue. For me, it was ridiculous, and confusing anyway. Needless old-fashioned language that wasn't even accurate at all, so why employ its use? The actual style of the novel was simplistic at best - it read like a Mills & Boon novel, the way it almost listed every little fact in painful detail, or not enough detail. It didn't dwell on aspects of the plot, of the universe, of the characters (dear LORD HELP US) which could have been enhanced to make the novel that much better (it was really truly lacking). And perhaps the most offensive thing (to this reader at least) the story tried to bind together ridiculous elements into a not at all believeable tale. The most important thing about a fantasy novel is that it has to be at least a little easy to believe. One wants to think that it could happen to them, as easily as it did the character in the novel - but mixing martial arts and the dark ages? Not to mention Harding had to go that extra bit further and add time-travelling immortals to the mix. I wasn't buying it, and neither should you. It seemed (almost unbearably painfully so) that the author was just pressing together things she happened to like a whole lot, into a novel that had nothing in the way of a pleasing cohesion of themes (if it was sophisticated enough for themes, which I doubt in any case). Please, aspiring authors out there, write what you love - but not like this...in any way but this. And one last thing. PEOPLE REACT TO THINGS. They don't just accept time-travelling warrior-women from the future - SERIOUSLY. They don't just welcome them into the fold. They don't leave them alone (you pretended like people were going to act like ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS WITH SELFISH DESIRES before you projected what you wanted men to be like onto your characters, Harding, don't lie) after a few rejections, hell, they just take what they want in the dark ages. They don't accept new, world-changing laws when some queen (OF NO PROVEN NOBILITY) appeares out of NOWHERE and demands women have a better chance at life. NOT. POSSIBLE. Even in a fictional Dark Ages (DARK FREAKING AGES, not happy-go-lucky-we-only-had-one-real-battle-oh-there-were-saxons-ey?-let's-frolick-on-the-beach!-Ages) it's just not possible. No matter how many (small, insignificant) facts about history you threw into that tripe, it doesn't make up for the fact that it's just not right. I almost want to change my rating from 2 to 1 star, but there were small things that I (admittedly, would have liked better if they were better written, elaborated on, and plotted out more) enjoyed. The story of Maelgwn's parents was interesting, and the angst of his brother an ACTUAL PROBABLE thing that would have happend. I also would have liked the whole Maelgwn/Miles thing to have been elaborated on, not glossed over as TBA when she reappears once Maelgwn is dead in 500AD, but there you have it, I don't know what happens in book 2 and 3. 4.5/10

  8. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    I don’t want to give this book a rating because I only read the first third of the book, and it might have gotten better after that. What I didn't like: Firstly, the romance aspect of this book is understated in the blurb. The first part of the story is basically a romance novel. The blurb talks about the main character being an awesome fighter, so I really expected that to be the main focus of the story. I expected to like the main character more, but I just didn't. Character development was very I don’t want to give this book a rating because I only read the first third of the book, and it might have gotten better after that. What I didn't like: Firstly, the romance aspect of this book is understated in the blurb. The first part of the story is basically a romance novel. The blurb talks about the main character being an awesome fighter, so I really expected that to be the main focus of the story. I expected to like the main character more, but I just didn't. Character development was very limited, with a rather dry “telling” rather than “showing” approach. Actually, the whole story took this telling rather than showing approach. There was little room for me to imagine anything, anticipate anything or to feel anything. The first approximately three chapters go to great effort to make the premise of the novel plausible. This is a goal that has varying degrees of pointlessness in this genre and in this case it just reads like a tedious fleshing out of the blurb. It seemed like there was ample opportunity in the first part of the novel for the characters to undergo some growth, but it just didn't happen, or when it did there wasn't enough of an emphasis on those characters. There were possibly too many characters, which made the emphasis of the story a little odd. Some really big events happened in the plot and the main characters just went on with things as though very little had changed. Finally, the dialogue makes ample use of the words thou and hast and their derivatives. This bothered me, but I am not sure that it would have if I had not made myself more aware of it by reading somebody else’s review before I had finished the book. I have certainly read other books which employed similar techniques and they did not bother me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    I started this book thinking I'd seen a lot of Traci Harding books around, she must be a good author. But oh no! I honestly don't know how this got published, I've read more in depth and interesting pieces written by emos on FanFiction. I understand the appeal, travel back in time and meet your true love, make your mark on history - who doesn't want to do that? It's a good idea, but I just couldn't stand the acceptance of the characters of Tory. Modern woman who flaunts her discman and camera... I started this book thinking I'd seen a lot of Traci Harding books around, she must be a good author. But oh no! I honestly don't know how this got published, I've read more in depth and interesting pieces written by emos on FanFiction. I understand the appeal, travel back in time and meet your true love, make your mark on history - who doesn't want to do that? It's a good idea, but I just couldn't stand the acceptance of the characters of Tory. Modern woman who flaunts her discman and camera... Wtf? And don't get me started on the tae kwon do. The moment quasi Merlin man creates a dojo for the eager ancient Welsh to learn in was when I flipped my iPad and was like "that's it, I'm out." Seriously I'd recommend this to teenage girls or someone who isn't widely read, because if you've actually picked up any other worthy text you'll be disappointed.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carla Khoo

    This book is the gateway to a memorable series of action packed, page turning adventure. I don't know what to say here to motivate you to read it other than, if you if you consider yourself a female fantasy lover, YOU MUST read these. Traci has a way of making you adore the characters - to the point where you get that delicious sense of loss when you finish a book. The good news on that note is that Traci is still powering ahead and if you kick off with this one, you still have many more adventu This book is the gateway to a memorable series of action packed, page turning adventure. I don't know what to say here to motivate you to read it other than, if you if you consider yourself a female fantasy lover, YOU MUST read these. Traci has a way of making you adore the characters - to the point where you get that delicious sense of loss when you finish a book. The good news on that note is that Traci is still powering ahead and if you kick off with this one, you still have many more adventures ahead. Don't delay peeps, READ NOW.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gwen (The Gwendolyn Reading Method)

    Ugh. First of all, I'm never going to come around to characters who think it's ok to try to rape a woman, even if they say sorry later (though that's mostly because they find out she can kick their butts). Second of all, this just wasn't that... interesting. I gave it a good whirl but I gotta DNF this one.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tricia

    After her car gets a flat tire, Tory spends the night in a stone circle. This transports her back into the past where she meets the prince Maelgwn. Tory is a black belt in taekwondo and is a modern woman. Is the past ready for her? I quite liked this book and I am looking forward to reading more in the series. It has magicians, faeries but with a bit of a sci-fi time travelling/reincarnation spin.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisandra Linde

    Take Outlander, remove all of its charm and character depth, add some martial arts and more than a few thee's and thou's and you have this book. Our protagonist is Tory Alexander, a 20th-century Australian woman who is a black belt martial artist, speaks an ancient language and is beautiful to everyone she ever meets. One night her car breaks down and she is forced to spend the night within a circle of standing stones. Thanks to some good old fashioned magic she is transported back in time to th Take Outlander, remove all of its charm and character depth, add some martial arts and more than a few thee's and thou's and you have this book. Our protagonist is Tory Alexander, a 20th-century Australian woman who is a black belt martial artist, speaks an ancient language and is beautiful to everyone she ever meets. One night her car breaks down and she is forced to spend the night within a circle of standing stones. Thanks to some good old fashioned magic she is transported back in time to the Dark Ages. Luckily for Tory, she is so beautiful and badass that it takes no time at all for two of the blokes she meets to fall in love with her. She's just that awesome, the writer reminds us: again and again and again. Throw in some magical bad guys for her to face? Not to worry, the author will remove all the stakes by giving Tory magical means to deal with any situation, thus defusing any drama well before it starts. But is Tory cool enough? Not to fear, dear reader, the author will continue to lift Tory up to new heights of ridiculous perfection. (view spoiler)[ Why not make her a goddess while we're at it? (hide spoiler)] But the fun doesn't stop there. There are other characters besides Tory in this book - shockingly enough - though all of them have the depth of a damp sheet of tissue paper. The men are all tired clichés of 'blokey blokes' who just want to bang our fine-looking heroine and swing the odd sword to protect her. They're all sexy and at times a little bit rapey because this is really just Sarah J. Maas, 90s style. The whole story reads like a self-insert fanfic - we get it, Traci Harding, you wish you could bonk some hot warriors of yesteryear. The book really goes off the rails when Harding tries to introduce a crazy 'souls through time' storyline which is really just an excuse for Tory to meet another bangable incarnation of her love interest in modern times. And to make for an absolutely bonkers, yet still entirely without stakes, final chunk of the book. (view spoiler)[ Did I mention that Merlin wants to bonk her as well? Oh sorry, not her but the queen she was in a past life who is also her current husband's mum? Or, equally uncomfortable, when Tory makes out with the guy who will become her brother in her time? (hide spoiler)] Aside from the lack of character depth and development and the complete obliteration of any and all stakes, the writing is just plain bad. Let's not even start on the 'thee', 'thou' language of the ancient folk (because apparently all ancient languages sound like a botched attempt at Shakespeare). The main issue is that the writing is dull, it's contrived, it's not properly edited and it doesn't give the reader any kind of immersion. The final verdict: never again.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Juliette

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Okay... So I bought this book at a 50% off sale, and so I figured that I didn't have much to lose. Let's just say I was glad I didn't buy it at full price. I mean... to be fair, the story started off with a lot of potential and I really liked it... but when Tori was teleported into the Dark Ages, it began to drive me nuts. I didn't read the book properly... I did a mini translation in my mind when I read it. I'm sorry, but the dialect used when she visited the past drove me nuts!!!!!! There are Okay... So I bought this book at a 50% off sale, and so I figured that I didn't have much to lose. Let's just say I was glad I didn't buy it at full price. I mean... to be fair, the story started off with a lot of potential and I really liked it... but when Tori was teleported into the Dark Ages, it began to drive me nuts. I didn't read the book properly... I did a mini translation in my mind when I read it. I'm sorry, but the dialect used when she visited the past drove me nuts!!!!!! There are definitely better ways to portray that she wasn't in modern day world so to speak... The different dialect made it a difficult read... I would also like to say that somehow whenever I think about this book the author Diana Gabaldon and her Cross stitch series somehow come to mind... Maybe it's the whole going back in time and marrying some very powerful man, and falling in love with him and having his child... Dunno... Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy it a little... Just... she could have done a lot better...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Geraldine Macci

    It's utterly, utterly awful, but I love it to bits. Don't go into this expecting it to be literature, or even well-written sci fi/fantasy. It's not. The plot is clunky, the 'perfect' characters you'll want to smack over the head, and the writing leaves a lot to be desired, but there's something about this series that gets to you. Perhaps in my case it's nostalgia, having first read these in my teens, but I found them still unputdownable and good silly fun. You'll need your suspension of disbelie It's utterly, utterly awful, but I love it to bits. Don't go into this expecting it to be literature, or even well-written sci fi/fantasy. It's not. The plot is clunky, the 'perfect' characters you'll want to smack over the head, and the writing leaves a lot to be desired, but there's something about this series that gets to you. Perhaps in my case it's nostalgia, having first read these in my teens, but I found them still unputdownable and good silly fun. You'll need your suspension of disbelief to be running at a high level to make it through the three books of the first trilogy (I'd not recommend the second trilogy - gets a bit too self-referential), but if you can do it, they're definitely worth a read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sheridan

    THIS IS MY ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE BOOK OF ALL TIME!!!! it makes me wish i had amnesia so i could read it again, for the fist time! the second book is really good too, but i don't particulary like the third and all the following books in the series don't even bother with.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    One of the best on my bookshelf. I read this trilogy about once a year and I still love it, the characters, the history, the mysticism.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    Let me start by saying this is very different to the kinds of books I've been reading recently. My partner is a big fantasy fan and has been pestering me to read it for a while, so when I left my book behind on a weekend together he handed me this in an instant. The writing was jarring at first, it felt clumsy and clunky, and I was rolling my eyes at the simplistic spelling it out and telling rather than showing approach. But I struggled on, and found that somewhere around the 100-200 page mark I Let me start by saying this is very different to the kinds of books I've been reading recently. My partner is a big fantasy fan and has been pestering me to read it for a while, so when I left my book behind on a weekend together he handed me this in an instant. The writing was jarring at first, it felt clumsy and clunky, and I was rolling my eyes at the simplistic spelling it out and telling rather than showing approach. But I struggled on, and found that somewhere around the 100-200 page mark I was really invested in the plot and enjoying it. Plot (ish) ** spoilers ** Basically, modern day kick arse Aussie girl, Tory, fluent in ancient language and a black belt stumbles into magic stones whilst on holiday in Britain and BANG/FLASH is transported back to the dark ages. "Woah! Where am I?" Love, adventure, drama, merlins, witches, Otherworld stuff, evil kings, British history stuff, sexy king, changing history, more time travel and drama. I wish the prose was richer to make this a 5 star read, but I don't really think that's the point here. This book had me up late at night reading "just one more chapter" to find out what happens. I didn't have to think too much. I could just enjoy, and I did.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pauline

    I don't think I can actually give this any stars. I'm far too conflicted lol. I read this when I was... 13(?) and absolutely loved it. It had a wicked strong female lead, magic, time travel, castles, romance, martial arts... It was like a shopping list of all of the things I found kick-ass as a kid, so of course I lapped this up. But is the story and writing actually any good...? Umm.. Well.. Probably not. However it did fire up my imagination, and push me to learn more about taekwondo and history I don't think I can actually give this any stars. I'm far too conflicted lol. I read this when I was... 13(?) and absolutely loved it. It had a wicked strong female lead, magic, time travel, castles, romance, martial arts... It was like a shopping list of all of the things I found kick-ass as a kid, so of course I lapped this up. But is the story and writing actually any good...? Umm.. Well.. Probably not. However it did fire up my imagination, and push me to learn more about taekwondo and history and even some of the new-age hippy ideas it explores. It kept me reading during a time when lots of kids lose interest, and was a good 'in-between' book from children's to adult's fantasy. These days I feel like there are lots more (better) options for teen & YA/NA fantasy, but 20 years ago we were pretty limited when it came to books with strong female leads and fantasy, so I'm kinda thankful for Traci Harding's Ancient Future series. (However I don't think I'll be going back to re-read them as an adult... Let's just keep those shiny memories from my childhood all squeaky clean and happy lol).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jill Smith

    I was fortunate enough to meet Traci Harding at Somerset Literary Festival a few years ago. She was giving a session with Kim Wilkins and another author. Being that Science Fiction/Fantasy/Gothic Horror is my favourite genre, I was fascinated to hear Traci explain her writing techniques. I was heartened by the fact that she was dyslexic and not highly educated and often writes with heavy metal music playing! This book is an amazing adventure and as intriguing as its title, and it is the first bo I was fortunate enough to meet Traci Harding at Somerset Literary Festival a few years ago. She was giving a session with Kim Wilkins and another author. Being that Science Fiction/Fantasy/Gothic Horror is my favourite genre, I was fascinated to hear Traci explain her writing techniques. I was heartened by the fact that she was dyslexic and not highly educated and often writes with heavy metal music playing! This book is an amazing adventure and as intriguing as its title, and it is the first book of a trilogy, a series I can’t wait to immerse myself in. Traci did say at Somerset that she based many of her characters on pieces of her family and friends characteristics, drawing on the unique relationships she knows intimately. I’m certain all authors draw on their own experiences to create a realistic fabric to a tale but in this case the backdrop is so remarkable the relationships create an intense and wonderful world. Essentially, this story is about Tory Alexandra, a solitary woman who is grieving the untimely death of her brother. Her car breaks down near some ancient monolithic stones dating back to Stonehenge era when England was still a clan based and feudal system. She is forced to stop for the night without realizing that she is part of history and that a vortex will send back in time to the Dark Ages. She meets Prince Maelgwn who is in her own history books as a King of England with a powerful effect on the unification of the clans. Tory becomes trainer to the Prince in martial arts and the ways of the future world. With dark magical enemies and Merlin the Kings confidant who aids them both in the battle to secure their own clan and unite with others. Maelgwn nearly does not triumph and Tory pays a huge price for bearing the Prince a future King of England. In the Dark Ages Tory Alexander becomes the link between past, present and future that saves the Kingdom and changes the history books forever. This is a difficult book to summarize in brief as it is complex. The characters are very strong and leave a deep sense of longing in the reader to continue the tale. This I will happily do with the balance of the Trilogy in ‘An Echo in Time - Atlantis’ and ‘Masters of Reality – The Gathering’. For those of you who love to loose yourself to satisfying characterization and complex cause and effect tale this series will be a must read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nurni (Leave What's Heavy Behind)

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I feel kind of embarrassed to publish a positive review of this book because just about all the reviews of it on this site are negative. Everyone says its badly written, that the characters aren't developed, that they found the fake old English annoying etc etc etc. I feel like I'm probably about to lose everyone's respect but: I LOVED this book. (I should probably mention that I'm a teenager. Have I gained your respect again?) I agree it wasn't perfect- it actually took me a while to get into. T I feel kind of embarrassed to publish a positive review of this book because just about all the reviews of it on this site are negative. Everyone says its badly written, that the characters aren't developed, that they found the fake old English annoying etc etc etc. I feel like I'm probably about to lose everyone's respect but: I LOVED this book. (I should probably mention that I'm a teenager. Have I gained your respect again?) I agree it wasn't perfect- it actually took me a while to get into. The first section (Time) was not that interesting. At first I didn't love it, I just liked it. I liked the characters and the concept, but I kept putting the book down to read other books. It took me so long to read the first hundred or so pages that I thought I would never finish the book at 670 pages. However, once I was in I was in. The rest of the book was amazing and I couldn't put it down. I went from not even being able to finish a chapter in a day (the chapters are huge) to tearing through two chapters a day and now have finished it more quickly than I ever would have foreseen. Here's what I loved: 1)Torgwn: Here I am fangirling over a book that just about everyone else agrees is trashy, which I seem to be prone to doing (I even loved "Matched" by Ally Condie, and still do actually despite the fact that it's not very original). Lots of people don't seem to care about the romance in this book, but me... well, I don't think I've ever been as invested in a fictional relationship as I was in Tory and Maelgwn's relationship (and that's saying something as I've encountered a lot of fictional relationships in the books I've read). Even as individual characters I loved them both almost the instant I first "met" them. I've got to say that both of them are the kind of characters I tend to fall madly in love with- both very powerful characters/people who are noble, heroic and change the world, and I can't choose one favourite character because I'd have to say... both of them. They're also perfect for each other and their love scenes are so romantic and sweet. Okay, so Harding can't kill off Tory because she's immortal, but if she kills off Maelgwn I won't forgive her. And I consider not making him immortal as "killing him off." (unfortunately, judging by the end of the book, it doesn't look like that's going to happen...) 2) The omniscient POV: I don't understand why people complain about the characters. I don't understand why people call Tory a Mary Sue when she is in fact a strong female character who is creating her own destiny. In addition to this, people called the characters flat and unsympathetic. I don't agree- I found all the main characters had a lot of depth to them and the use of an omniscient POV in the book enabled me to get inside the head of the characters and really sympathise with them. Reading about Maelgwn's doubts lead me to admire him even more. Brockwell's sections, especially that episode with the griffin, lead me to realise that he's not just arrogant and reckless but also exceptionally courageous and loving. Katren's daydreams about Brockwell made me really feel her love and admiration for him. However, as she is the protagonist, we see more of Tory's thoughts than we do of anyone else's, and we go a lot deeper into her mind. Her thoughts are so well written that I felt her feelings. Especially in regards to her immortality- reading about it made me feel so overwhelmed and sorry for her. It seems like she can't even handle being away from Maelgwn for a few hours (which even though I went crazy over their relationship, I do think is a little over the top), so how is she going to be able to handle an eternity without him after he dies? The way the book was written made me feel like it was me who would have to live without her love forever, and it made me feel so empty and hopeless. 3) Strong female characters: As one reviewer already pointed out, all the female characters in this series are extremely strong and know their place in the world, which I greatly appreciate. We have Tory, of course, who is actively making a change; Katren, who is extremely courageous and determined, and a fighter not unlike Tory; Ione, with her physical strength, who makes a "manly" knight despite being a woman; Sorcha, the powerful queen who regrettably is dead before the book opens but is still an intriguing character; Jenovefa, who is so determined to learn Tae Kwon Do that she stands up to her controlling husband; and even the girlish maidens, Alma and Cara, learn to fight. The evil female characters, such as Mahaud and Princess Vanora, are also powerful, independent women. I really appreciate how the author has made this series a tribute to women and their strength. 4) The characters' backstories/ changes: I actually found a lot of the characters quite complex and I liked/loved most of them. I'm not saying the characterisation was perfect, but I disagree with a lot of the claims by other reviewers that the characters were flat, unsympathetic and didn't change. They are all quite unique with their own pasts. I found Ione's backstory, for instance, quite fascinating, and the way her past had shaped her was equally fascinating- the way she was mistrustful of men and pretended to be crazy to avoid them. People who say the characters don't change? They certainly do, but often this change is choppy and unconvincing, only confusing me. Ione began to overcome her trauma and regain her trust in men; Katren changed from a damsel in distress to a woman of action; Tiernan finally got over Sorcha's death and decided to love again. However, it often feels like the change is too sudden and like the character just suddenly is a completely different person. Ione was a masculine, crazy woman who men laughed at, then all of a sudden she transforms into this flawless beauty who all the men long for. Katren dreamed about Brockwell and he didn't notice her, then all of a sudden their roles switch so that he's in love with her but has to chase her. Probably the most developed and convincing character arc was Brockwell's. He was a womaniser who had never been faithful to any "lover," and then he has to learn the consequences of his actions when he really falls in love but Katren doesn't believe he really loves her. This causes him to change his ways and be more respectful towards women, and faithful to his wife- a dynamic character change that really works. 5) The reincarnation aspect: The idea of having many different lives I found really cool- especially the idea of time not being linear so that you could live in present day and then go back and be a great king in the past, for instance. I absolutely loved how all the main characters also had another "version" of themselves in the twentieth century, although in general I preferred the sixth century characters. I wasn't a big fan of either Brian or Miles; I found Brian too pretentious and Miles not very intelligent. I also thought that Brian coming back to life ruined what was so amazing about Tory's relationship with Brockwell- she went back in time to be reunited with her dead brother, only to go forward in time to be... reunited with him again? And I didn't like how Tory thought that she could have a relationship with Miles- As far as I'm concerned, he's not Maelgwn, despite the fact that he's supposed to be his "twentieth century embodiment" or whatever. In regards to the others- I felt like we didn't get to "know" Naomi or Rose well enough to like them. I didn't like Teo either-he was weak and not strong like he was made out to be. I presume that him being possessed by Mahuad was supposed to be a big plot twist, but I saw it coming ages before it was finally revealed. 6) The use of the old beliefs: I love how the author incorporated the old Celtic beliefs into the story and, although most people these days have different beliefs, made them seem like the truest thing ever in regards to the world of the story. The author herself most likely had different beliefs therefore her acceptance is impressive! I also like how she was able take martial arts and new age ideas, and merge them with the Celtic aspects to make them all seem one and the same- she was skilled at doing that. Overall I loved this book. It wasn't perfect, in fact far from it- but then again, what book is perfect? I will definitely continue the series- although I'm worried it might break my heart.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Natalia Smith

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a difficult review to write, because while I love this series to death, I enjoy it in the same way I enjoy the occasional bit of really bad television. I love these books, but honesty and objectivity compels me to admit that they're not very good. I'll be frank: the writing makes judicious use of purple prose and the editing is terrible, the storytelling is uneven and at times melodramatic to the point of ridiculousness, the drama is almost always contrived, the characters are all blatant This is a difficult review to write, because while I love this series to death, I enjoy it in the same way I enjoy the occasional bit of really bad television. I love these books, but honesty and objectivity compels me to admit that they're not very good. I'll be frank: the writing makes judicious use of purple prose and the editing is terrible, the storytelling is uneven and at times melodramatic to the point of ridiculousness, the drama is almost always contrived, the characters are all blatant Mary Sues (in the case of the protagonist, this is literally true: in a later installment of the series she's revealed to be a future incarnation of the author), the frequent misuse of YE OLDE ENGLISH is glaringly obvious to anyone with even a basic working knowledge of the proper usage of "thee" and "thou", the author relies far too heavily on deux ex machina and coincidence to advance her plot, and there are some giant, gaping holes in the world building. But I mean, other than that... Look, I wish I had some convincing argument to defend this series against the people who say it's awful. I don't; it is awful. But for me, this series adds up to more than the sum of its (many, many) flaws. The writing is admittedly terrible for a mainstream-published novel (I'd expect something more along this line from a self-published work), but if you don't go into it expecting a literary classic, it's actually pretty engaging. I'm not too proud to admit that I fell in love with a few of the Mary Sue characters, and I find the whole ridiculous, overdone plot immensely entertaining even after numerous re-reads. It's just one of those books that I inexplicably love, despite my own better judgement.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laura Davison

    So, I read this along time ago and really enjoyed it then. This time, however, I only got about 1/3 of the way through. I still enjoyed the main characters and the overall plot, but I struggled with the writing style. Harding uses a passive voice and does a lot of telling. In every paragraph she tells us exactly what our characters are thinking and feeling, without any attempt at subtlety or faith that the reader could figure it out for themselves based on context or through showing their body lan So, I read this along time ago and really enjoyed it then. This time, however, I only got about 1/3 of the way through. I still enjoyed the main characters and the overall plot, but I struggled with the writing style. Harding uses a passive voice and does a lot of telling. In every paragraph she tells us exactly what our characters are thinking and feeling, without any attempt at subtlety or faith that the reader could figure it out for themselves based on context or through showing their body language. I was also stunned by the amount of casual misogyny I was coming across. Sure the main female characters were all kickass, but they all also looked down on the other women around them, and often had snide thoughts about them. Basically, I decided that given I have so many other books I would rather be reading, that I would put this one aside. Maybe I'll come back to it one day. We'll see.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marte

    I got this book as a present, which makes it a little more difficult laying into it. I will therefore try and be balanced: GOOD It was interesting. It was easy to read (despite clocking in at 672 pages). It was different from what I usually read. BAD The pretend-use of the Brythanic language really grated on me and made the book more difficult to read (all the characters speak English, but with 'thee', 'thou', 'dost' and 'thine' thrown in - argh!). It's appallingly badly written. The whole New Age spiri I got this book as a present, which makes it a little more difficult laying into it. I will therefore try and be balanced: GOOD It was interesting. It was easy to read (despite clocking in at 672 pages). It was different from what I usually read. BAD The pretend-use of the Brythanic language really grated on me and made the book more difficult to read (all the characters speak English, but with 'thee', 'thou', 'dost' and 'thine' thrown in - argh!). It's appallingly badly written. The whole New Age spiritualism bullshit started to grate on me after a while (it's like old Britannic myths mixed with sci-fi and a bit of tae-kwon-do! Oh, and time travel, of course...). On balance, it was ok, but I would only recommend it if you're really into these kinds of books! (and even so, there must be books out there that are written better!)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    My most favourite novel ever. EVER. For some reason no other book, fantasy based or otherwise has even come close to the awesomeness that this book oozes. I first read it at fourteen years old tucked under my desk in english class (I read it in class just to piss my teacher off). If I had to guess how many times I've read it since, it would be over fifty times. Set in the 1990's, Tory Alexander finds herself stranded on a quite English country road with a flat tyre. The rest is history. Traci inc My most favourite novel ever. EVER. For some reason no other book, fantasy based or otherwise has even come close to the awesomeness that this book oozes. I first read it at fourteen years old tucked under my desk in english class (I read it in class just to piss my teacher off). If I had to guess how many times I've read it since, it would be over fifty times. Set in the 1990's, Tory Alexander finds herself stranded on a quite English country road with a flat tyre. The rest is history. Traci incorporates modern day quirks and references fuses it with British history and scrambles the yolk in a frying pan and cooked up this brilliant novel. Her spin with esoteric belief makes this continuing series my security blanket, teaching me so much about the world, perception and belief. READ THIS BOOK. That is all.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cassi

    I absolutely adore this book and the two and three others that come after it. I find the characters interesting and human, and can't help but fall madly in love with them all. The way that Harding has interwoven mythical tales and historic facts in with an intriguing and unique storyline is brilliant. I love the fact that it is presented in a way that it could be real, but not so much as to make you forget that at times and just go along with the captivating fiction you are being fed. I can't say en I absolutely adore this book and the two and three others that come after it. I find the characters interesting and human, and can't help but fall madly in love with them all. The way that Harding has interwoven mythical tales and historic facts in with an intriguing and unique storyline is brilliant. I love the fact that it is presented in a way that it could be real, but not so much as to make you forget that at times and just go along with the captivating fiction you are being fed. I can't say enough about how much I love this book - it is by far my favourite of all time!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kassandra

    I love everything and anything by Traci Harding and this book is what started it all. Tory is a strong, independent and brave woman. I love any story when there is a heroine instead of a hero because it's so refreshing, especially when they just get on with it all and don't become a blubbering mess all the time. The idea of time travel is so cool and incorporating the marshal arts fighting style was a really cool twist on it all as well. I could go on all day about this book, but you should read it I love everything and anything by Traci Harding and this book is what started it all. Tory is a strong, independent and brave woman. I love any story when there is a heroine instead of a hero because it's so refreshing, especially when they just get on with it all and don't become a blubbering mess all the time. The idea of time travel is so cool and incorporating the marshal arts fighting style was a really cool twist on it all as well. I could go on all day about this book, but you should read it instead!!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Best

    This isn't the first time I've read this book. It's great fun and I enjoy it just as much each time I revisit it. The Ancient Future was my first introduction to Traci Harding, and made me seek out each new book she releases. Traci has a lovely,light,fresh style. I loved taking the journey with her characters and found her worlds very believable. If you've never read any of Traci's books, this is a great one to start with.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I love this series! I read them when I was fifteen and have never thought of them as poorly written or boring. I find the plot captivating and original, as well as the characters. Tory's relationship with Maelgwn is insanely romantic and I love the idea of everyone coupling up! This type of novel is the one I tend to head towards when i scour the shelves of book stores. I love every bit of it!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    I adored this book when I first read it as a young lass and I've re-read it many times since. I tried re-reading it again recently, but the writing is awful at times and Tory seems to be a perfect character who "just happens" to be well-read up on ancient Britain and lore. The story is good, though and fun.

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