Mini Review: Time’s Children (The Islevale Cycle 1) – A Fast-Paced Time Travel Fantasy

Hey all! It’s been a terribly busy week and I’ve been neglecting my reading and blogging in favour of pretty much everything else. So I’ll try to catch up on your comments and posts in the upcoming week.

In the meantime, here’s one very overdue mini review! (I told myself I would do more of these)


Time's Children

: Time’s Children (The Islevale Cycle 1)
Author: D.B. Jackson
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
Genre(s): Fantasy, Science Fiction
Subjects and Themes: Time Travel
Page Count: 528 (paperback)

Rating: 6.5/10

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Fifteen year-old Tobias Doljan, a Walker trained to travel through time, is called to serve at the court of Daerjen. The sovereign, Mearlan IV, wants him to Walk back fourteen years, to prevent a devastating war which will destroy all of Islevale. Even though the journey will double Tobias’ age, he agrees. But he arrives to discover Mearlan has already been assassinated, and his court destroyed. The only survivor is the infant princess, Sofya. Still a boy inside his newly adult body, Tobias must find a way to protect the princess from assassins, and build himself a future… in the past.


I found this to be a pleasantly lukewarm read for the most part. The prose is simple but engaging. The worldbuilding isn’t overly complex but still snags your attention. It doesn’t do anything out-of-this-world fantastic, but it sets up a nice jumping off point for what could be a very good fantasy series.

The world of Time’s Children is one where Walkers (those who can time travel), Spanners (those who can cross long distances in a blink of an eye), Seers (those who can glimpse into the future), and other such gifted individuals ply their services to nobility. Tobias is a 15-year old Walker who has been tasked with traveling back 14 years to prevent a war. Everything goes awry when he arrives, however, and he becomes witness to the assassination of the royal family and ends up having to flee the castle with the baby princess in his arms.

The time travel plot doesn’t kickstart until about 1/3 of the way into the book, which I actually quite liked. I appreciated that Jackson took the time to not only establish Tobias’ character, but also the rules of time travel–clothes off when traveling; running into your traveled self is dangerous; and if you travel back 12 years, you age 12 years, and when you travel forward again, you age 12 more–and the political situation of these countries. It’s fascinating stuff and I enjoyed this slower-paced first half more than the action-filled second half.

I also loved that these Walkers aren’t romanticized. While respected by nobility and commoners both, their job isn’t a pretty one. They exist, really, to clean up the nobility’s mistakes, sacrificing years of their life while doing so. A character remarks to Tobias near the beginning that there’s little to separate it from slavery, and I couldn’t agree more. I hope it gets brought up again in the later books because it’s great foundation for character conflicts.

Which brings me to my main problem: the characters. Tobias himself is a sweet, likeable boy who reminded a little bit of young FitzChivalry. But pleasant and likeable is about the extent of his character. I would have loved an in-depth exploration into his PTSD as I can only imagine the psychological havoc that a sudden aging can wreak on a person. Unfortunately, it’s an area for character growth that the story doesn’t really take advantage of. Yet, anyway. Considering this is only the first book, I assume–hope–we’ll see more layers to him in the sequels. As for the side characters, they’re a diverse bunch and they’re all given PoVS of their own, but I had a hard time connecting with any of them.

All in all, though, this was a fast-paced, highly readable fantasy with a lot of potential and room for growth and I’m interested to see where the author takes the story next.


Review copy provided by publisher via Netgalley

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Tammy October 28, 2018 - 1:34 pm

Wow, if I knew I was going to age like that, I would never time travel!

Susy's Cozy World October 28, 2018 - 1:39 pm

I have not decided yet about this book. I’m not a fan of time travel, tbh, and what you wrote about the characters gave me some thoughts. I can forgive a lacking plot if we have great characters, but when there is not deepth in them… I don’t know. I think I would take my time to decide if I would read this or not.
Anyway, great review! 🙂

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky November 3, 2018 - 10:00 am

Thanks, Suzy! I’ve read a lot of time travel books this year for some reason and most of them have not been good, so this is in the “not great but better” column. And I’ll take that. 😛 And I’m on the same page as you for character vs plot!

jennifertarheelreader October 28, 2018 - 2:56 pm

Your mini reviews are still longer than my regular reviews, and oh-so-good! ♥️ I hope you have a much calmer week ahead, Kathy! Thinking of you! Xoxo

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky November 3, 2018 - 10:04 am

Aww thanks, Jennifer!<3 <3 And I think I'm utterly incapable of writing short things. 😂 I look at anything that's under 300 words and go "I NEED TO ADD MORE WORDS".

waytoofantasy October 28, 2018 - 4:04 pm

Great review! I like the concept of time travel in this one and the rules. I have heard a lot of the same things about this one, mostly ‘meh’ but I think I might still check it out when I get time (no pun intended). 🙂

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky November 3, 2018 - 9:57 am

For a 500+ page book it’s a super quick read so I think it’s definitely worth checking out!

sjhigbee October 28, 2018 - 11:19 pm

I really enjoy time travelling stories and I thought your review wasn’t so much mini as excellent… Thank you for sharing:)

maxinesobsessions October 29, 2018 - 1:19 pm

I wasn’t sure if I would like this as I don’t really enjoy time travel stories, they confuse me. But I liked this one. I did think it could have been shorter, but I was ready to pick it up again the next time I was ready to read.

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky November 3, 2018 - 9:53 am

It did feel a tad too lengthy, but I feel like it didn’t take me as long to finish it as say…The Phoenix Empress. 😛

maxinesobsessions November 4, 2018 - 2:57 am

Any book seems short after The Phoenix Empress lol

@lynnsbooks October 31, 2018 - 12:38 pm

Time travel can be hit and miss for me – I end up with lots of little niggling questions more often than not that just irritate me. Probably not one for me on that basis.
Lynn 😀

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky November 1, 2018 - 5:16 am

I can relate! This one has the “changing the past creates multiple branching realities” kind of time travel, which isn’t my favourite, but it is one of the better ones I’ve read this year.

October 2018 Wrap-Up – Book Things & Art as a Double-Edged Sword – Pages Below the Vaulted Sky November 16, 2018 - 1:22 pm

[…] Time’s Children by D.B. Jackson ⚔️🚀: A mashup of time travel and epic fantasy! I guess “pleasant” would be the best wor? Nothing amazing but I did enjoy it for the most part. [Review] […]

mervih November 16, 2018 - 2:30 pm

I’ve loved time travel as a concept since I first met it (in the two-issue X-Men story Days of the Future Past in the 90s – which is a really hard act to follow) and mixing it with epic fantasy sounds like a great idea. Too bad the characters didn’t work for you.

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky November 19, 2018 - 3:40 am

It was Back to the Future that first got me interested in time travel. Admittedly not the most scientific, but I loved how fun it was. 😀 And other people liked the characters fine, so I’m pretty sure it was just a “me” thing!

mervih November 25, 2018 - 9:06 am

I love Back to the Future! I watched all three of them again a few weeks ago.


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