The Anubis Gates – Tim Powers (1983)
It’s a bit of a tour-de-force to pull off one of those Time Travel novels where someone travelling to the past, although they are not aware of it, are carrying out predestined actions which actually create our present, rather than alter it.
There have been variations on this theme notably from Clifford Simak and Harry Harrison, while Michael Moorcock used the principle for a more serious and controversial purpose in ‘Behold The Man’.
Here, Power succeeds admirably in his purpose to conserve the timeline despite the intervention of 21st Century humans in 19th Century London.
Brendan Doyle, an academic expert in the work of Coleridge and the obscure poet William Ashbless, is recruited by a company called DIRE. He learns not only that Time Travel is possible and that he will be travelling back to hear a lecture by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, but also that there are points in time where magic not only works, but is very effective.
Doyle duly travels back with a group of men wealthy enough to have bought a ticket to the past. Their stay will be brief. They must return to the Time Travel spot by a certain time, from whence they will be catapulted back.
All goes well until the guests are ready to leave. Doyle is knocked out, kidnapped and taken to the gipsy camp of Dr Romany, where he becomes trapped in the past, embroiled in a fantastic plot involving evil sorcerous clones, Lord Byron, body-swapping souls and the possible subjugation of Britain.