This was my first novel of Michael Crichton, I heard about him after Jurassic Park and Lost World. I was lucky to get the original US Hard bound first edition from local book shop, as an unsold item.
The title itself excited me as I guessed correctly that it was something about time travel. The story is based on the concept of quantum physics and existence of many universe on a time line. The story do not simply take you back but the author also discuss the technology behind the time travel.
Main character is Professor Edward Johnston an historian and archaeologists studying historical sites in French. ITC is the company who provides fund to the professor to carry out researches. ITC is run by Robert Doniger, a brilliant , wealthy and mean scientist. Chris, Kate, David and Andre are students and associates of the professor who work with him at the site.
Suddenly the professor is called by ITC and after three days Chris, Kate, David and Andre are also called by the company. At the secret lab of ITC they are made to understand that the professor time traveled back to 14th century France and is not able to return and if they are ready to go with the experienced guard to bring him back. They decided to travel back and they have been given time of 37 hours to find the professor, after that the machines will not be able to bring them back. David decided not travel and remain at the lab of ITC.
When they reach in the past, they get separated and two of them were taken to Lord Oliver and Chris follows a boy and unwittingly identifies himself as a noble. The boy turns out to be Lady Claire.
The professor is now known as wise man, and Sir Oliver believes that the wise man knows the secret passage to the castle of La Roqueand , also knows about Greek Fire. However, the professor’ knowing’ that the Sir Oliver lost the siege carried by Arnaut de Cervole still helps him with making of ‘automatic fire’ .
They also learn that Robert de Kere is actually one of the employee of ITC and has almost become insane because of many time travels and transcription errors and has remained here , and he has been spying on them .
Eventually they all get together to return back into the present, but Andre decide to stay back and marry Lady Claire. When the return they learn that Robert was making time travel machine to develops it as biggest entertainment to offer the world.
As the story takes place in the medival France and without the knowledge of the history , that too of France it was little bit difficult for me to concentrate , but ofcourse the author is not to be blamed for that. Further the reason of making timet ravel machine is revealed at the very end of the story and until you are bit frustrated with the suspense.
I find the story getting weak at some points. But still story is basically interesting and I finished within two sessions. If you are science-fiction fan , like me, then this is good read.