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A Time Vortex is one way to meet The Dancer from Atlantis

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The Dancer From Atlantis by Poul Anderson
The Dancer from Atlantis
Poul Anderson

I haven’t had much experience with novels revolving around time travel, but I am a fan of Greek mythology, history, and any stories or television documentaries regarding legends of Atlantis, and Poul Anderson’s, The Dancer from Atlantis, draws from all of them.  More specifically, the novel blends the myth of Atlantis with that of Theseus and the Minotaur.  If you aren’t familiar with details from either, looking them up would help you better appreciate the novel.

The story revolves around Duncan Reid, a 20th century man of 40, who is sucked up by a time vortex caused by a time traveler’s malfunctioning machine.  Reid is joined by an 11th century trader from Kievan Russ (Oleg), a 4th century Hun (Uldin), and a Bronze Age Cretan woman (Erissa).  Together, the four unfortunate companions are deposited approximately a year before a massive eruption on the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea.  This is where history and myth begin to blend within the story.

The four meet Theseus, a real prince of Athens, who is conspiring with the Ariadne (in this novel the title of a position in this, not the name of a person) to overthrow Cretan dominance of the seas.  I enjoyed how this story worked with the theory that many myths have at least some basis in fact.  Though as far as I know, there has been no record of an actual prince Theseus of Athens at the time, but Crete did control a large trade network in the Eastern Mediterranean, and there was an eruption on the island of Santorini that pulverized the island and devastated Crete.  Also, shortly after this Bronze Age eruption, the civilization on Crete collapsed and evidence of invasion has been found on the island.

I liked the fact that Anderson’s story is a time traveler’s story that really doesn’t focus on the technology behind it.  The four main characters become so wrapped up in the events around them that the only part of time travel that the story really focuses on is the enveloping idea of fate and destiny.  Are they supposed to act as they do, or should they try to avoid any action that could alter the future?  Is time cyclical?  If anything, this story feels more like a fantasy novel, or a history lesson; but in a good way.

If you enjoyed this book you may also like:

Tunnel in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein The Forever War by Joe Haldeman The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
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