I honestly didn't know what to expect from this book with the author constantly promoting it in the Time Travel GoodReads group. And who the heck is Howard Loring anyway? The publisher's website explains that Howard isn't his real name and no amount of sleuthing (a small team effort) could bring more than 1 real hint that kind of fizzled before it got started. Plus, this Howard character is always making off-the-wall or philosophical tangents in our forums that had begun to make us wonder ... was this book going to be utter crap or it was going to be just as fabulous as he'd made it out to be? And was the book going to make any sense? As you can probably guess from the star rating, I ended up loving the book and all its twisty epic innards.
The book is extremely well-told. And since the book is written out of order (much like a time traveler would view time), you find yourself with some light bulb moments when you realize that Person A from the beginning of the book is actually the person you've just been reading about. I liked that the characteristics of the characters were memorable enough that the "ah-ha" moments of realizing who was who wasn't too difficult despite their name changes. Reward your readers with ah-ha moments and you hook them quite well.
It's definitely an interesting book containing cavemen, a forest monster, time travelers, space ships, love triangles, gods, a beast, warring factions, holy water, people that don't appear to age, and an old hag ... among other things. And the book definitely is epic in proportion since the time travelers don't age during their travels into the past and since the story spans the galaxy.
I had a feeling that the "epic" ending would be an Adam & Eve scenario. It was set up too well for it to not end that way. I did like the twist of learning that Primus was a computer. That I didn't see coming. But I have to wonder why Primus felt the need to seed the universe with "grunts" unless it was the only logical way to keep an evolving population from eventually annihilating itself completely. I also am wondering what the purpose of the time machine in the story actually was. Yes, the people assigned to the station were supposed to view history and step in if needed, but what type of events would require such interference? Also, was the idea to bury the station and have new station masters come around thousands of years after the initial seeding to make the changes? Would equipment last for thousands of years without simply breaking down from time? Maybe I didn't understand the purpose of the station that housed the time machine in the first place. I think, though, that perhaps the other Epic Fable by Loring, [b:Piercing the Elastic Limit|13487848|Piercing the Elastic Limit|Howard Loring|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1331741561s/13487848.jpg|19025345] might shed some insight on this since the author mysteriously won't give me a straight answer to my questions about the true purpose of the time machine.
So, yes, I've got to read Loring's other book ... and employ more identity sleuths ...
P.S. For anyone wanting to read this, don't buy the paperback version available on Amazon. Instead look for the version available on Smashwords since it's the edited version. Loring made quite a few revisions to tighten up the narrative after comments from some of his first readers, so be sure to get the newest edition if you're going to read it.