A Tale of Time City
Dianna Wynne Jones
One of the most marvelous things about A Tale of Time City is the setting. DWJ just astounds me with the way she planned out Time City. The history of Faber John, the creator of Time City, and the Time Lady, his wife, is an intricate and major motivation of the characters, as well as the architectural inspiration for Time City.
Vivian Smith is an ordinary girl going through the Second World War, declared during the Christmas of 1938. She is evacuated to the country when the war becomes too dangerous, and while she is supposed to meet with her Cousin Marty, she is suddenly snatched away by two young residents of Time City, Jonathan Lee Walker and Sam Lee Donegal.
Vivian was mistaken for the Time Lady, who Jonathan and Sam believe is trying to tear Time City apart, since she had been rumored to have been tricked out of Time City by her husband, and this is therefore her revenge. Faber John, who is the only one who truly understands how Time City works, and how it controls History, is supposed to be asleep, and it is therefore up to Jonathan, Sam and Vivian to try to stop it's destruction.
Vivian is shown Time City and its beauty, in an effort to persuade her to help Jonathan and Sam save it, and the realness of Time City really shows here. DWJ introduces everything with perfect brevity, from Gnomon to Continuum, and a crystal clear image rises in your mind, and you begin to feel the urgency of Jonathan, Vivian and Sam, as Time City continues to disintegrate. Vivian's sudden appearance is explained by Jonathan, who tells her to pose as his cousin, Vivian Sarah Lee, whose parents are in History (which is the world outside Time City).
Jonathan discovers the polarities, and their importance in keeping Time City together. As he time travels back to the station where he kidnapped Vivian at her suggestion, they find out that someone is trying to remove all the polarities keeping Time City together. The Iron, Silver, Gold and Lead Caskets are the official names of the polarities and they are the most powerful are arranged respectively. The thieves turn out to be the other members of the Lee family, the parents of the cousin Vivian is posing. The Iron Casket and the Silver Casket are stolen outside of Time City, and the Gold is about to be taken by the thieves of the other polarities when Vivian and Jonathan awaken, as you could say, the guardian of the Lead Casket, the most powerful of all the polarities. Faber John, who is the guardian of the lead casket awakens to consciousness, and the Time Lady joins him in repairing Time City. Vivian continues to live there, and all the mistakes of the Unstable Eras- where there is no fixed ending to their History- are fixed. The declaration of World War Two is corrected, as are all the other discrepancies.
This is a really good book, and the characters are interesting, if a little one-sided. Three and a half out of five for this one.