This second book in Stephen Baxter’s Time Tapestry series, an alternative history epic, spans the history of England from 453 to 1066 AD. The story begins when the Saxon, Wuffa, and the Norseman, Ulf, are invited to join the quest for an ancient prophecy known as the Menologium. This prophecy, sent from the future by The Weaver, claims that if its every particular is fulfilled, a mighty hero will win a battle and form a great Aryan empire. A quarrel between Wuffa and Ulf leads to historical repercussions as their warring descendants seek to use the prophecy for their own purposes.
The plot is intriguing, but the historical information is given with a heavy hand (“…this small chapel [in York] was surely the seed of grander minsters to rise up in the future”), the writing is choppy (“This is Lunden. What of it? Who cares?”), and the characterization is weak. Baxter does successfully portray the various Germanic and Scandinavian invaders who, blended together over the centuries, become the Englishmen who stand with King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Unfortunately, this accomplishment does not diminish the overall tedium of the book.