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City of Time: Book II of the Navigator Trilogy    by Eoin McNamee order for
City of Time
by Eoin McNamee
Order:  USA  Can
Yearling, 2009 (2008)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

It has been a year since Owen and Cati journeyed through Eoin McNamee's The Navigator, first in this series. From his father and grandfather Owen inherited the responsibility of Navigator, giving aid and protection when duty calls. After the loss of her father, the Sub-Commandant, Cati became the Watcher; her responsibility is to keep constant and diligent vigil, while her community of Resisters sleep in the Starry, located in the lower section of the abandoned Workhouse.

There are odd occurrences again: while talking with a friend at school, Owen watches as Freya's face becomes that of an old woman; and that night the usually kindly face of the man-in-the-moon appears 'hard and cold'. On the crisp, clear night, Cati shivers in dropping temperatures as she watches a flock of wild geese turn into dust. Owen rushes to the Den (his retreat) and discovers Cati waiting for him. Cati recognizes a cornflower-designed brooch that belonged to her mother. Letters have been gouged into a table top with a cryptic message: 'go to the city of time not enough time a tempod'. Cati knows that her father's spirit has been there.

Owen and Cati rush to awaken Resistors - scientist and philosopher Dr. Diamond and Pieta, a staunch warrior with a magnowhip, are their first choices. At the warehouse harbor home, they awaken Wesley and Silkie, caretakers of the Raggies (abandoned children). At Diamond's lab they watch as five clocks slow down. Their inimitable enemies, the Harsh, have begun life-threatening mischief again, aided by Mr. Johnston, who hates the Resisters. From high in the trees, the scrap yard owner spies through a telescope looking into Owen's room. Johnston's eyes are on a valuable chest, locked by the Mortmain, that houses the Puissance - the sought-after device constructed by the Harsh to travel backward in time.

Owen states his theory about the meaning of the cryptic message: 'What if it means that there really wasn't enough? I mean, not enough to go around ... the world or universe ... that there isn't enough of it'. Dr. Diamond agrees that Owen has 'hit the nail on the head ... that was exactly what the message meant.' The threesome head for the City of Time, called Hadima in the old books, where time is bought and sold, packaged in a tempod. Their quandary is the need to break the seal to the city's entrance; a seal that was voted on by the Resisters in time past to prevent the Harsh from coming through.

Shopkeeper Mary White notices that the pendulum of the grandfather clock is barely moving. Radio broadcasters announce crop failures, and the death of livestock; a full moon is out of sync 'swinging in a wild orbit', and coming closer to earth, distorting the motion of the planets. Mary takes her chances on locking up the shop to walk to Martha's home - Owen's mother needs help in recollecting where, who, and what took place in her life. Martha awakens as from a long, long sleep, a fog, as memories flood back, and her first thoughts are that she must find Owen.

Cati, Owen, and Dr. Diamond progress slowly to Hadima in a very special historical truck. En route they meet hitchhiker Rosie, who agrees to guide them to the City of Time. Taking over the driving, Rosie adeptly maneuvers the vehicle into heavy, multi-lanes of traffic, and bellows with great spirit, 'Speed up, or shift over! Rosie's coming through.' At the Museum of Time, as Owen and Diamond converse with the curator, Rosie slips out of the room to investigate the museum and finds a Yeati held captive in a cage. Returning to Rosie's residence, they discover that Cati is missing.

Around the county all of time has run amok, while preachers shout on street corners, predicting the end of the world. Gangs are looting shops; tides are rising; tsunamis are predictable; and Mr. Johnston gathers crowds of people in a tent, inciting war against the Resisters, as he expounds – 'they are the enemy'. Owen is captured by the Harsh, and their King invites him to join their cause, while back at the harbor, Silkie and Wesley rescue a youngster of the Harsh from drowning in high waves.

Eoin McNamee’s characters are strong, each playing an important role in a unique, magnetic fantasy of scientific phenomena and anomalies. Jon Goodel's seemingly feather-brushed illustrations are grey-hued sketches, finely detailed to display the immensity of height inside buildings, thin twigs of trees, cast members' dress and expressions. The author's style of storytelling demands a read in one sitting. And for those who missed the first book, McNamee deftly inserts just enough background to allow this one to stand on its own.

City of Time leaves plenty of space for anticipation of the third in the trilogy, The Frost Child targeted for release mid 2009. If you favor a story with plenty of action and energetic mind-grabbers, with perils, successes, and, larger-than-life characters, City of Time is perfection in prose.

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