Sunset of the Gods Out January 1, 2013 in trade paperback from Baen
2nd Volume in the Jason Thanou Series
(1st volume was Blood of the Heroes and 3rd Volume will be Pirates of the Timestream)
Jason and his three person team are sent back to 490 B.C. to investigate the appearance of the Greek god Pan, who is associated with the battle of Marathon.
The pseudoscience explaining how time travel works is well done with the author accounting for all of the obvious problems. Reality protects itself so if you change something, it will modify something else to compensate, but you might not like what it modifies, so be careful about changes.
After the discovery of the Teloi aliens on Earth in the distant past acting as gods in the last book, their influence on past events closer in time to the present was a major concern. No trace of them had been found in interstellar explorations so at some point they must have died out, but when and how was unknown.
The Teloi are still something of a villainous presence in this volume, but evil humans have come onto the scene as well, and in some ways have taken advantage of the Teloi, who are all quite old at this point. Pan’s identity is discovered, but he is really not an enemy; both Jason and the reader feel sorry for him and this has a decided impact on the situation with the aliens and the humans taking advantage of them.
Fixing everything requires two expeditions into the past and also the use of future technology while there, which is potentially quite dangerous to temporal stability, but Jason is discreet and uses stealth and tech to hide it. Jason is a military character, who is sort of on detached duty, but he tends to be an officer who uses his brain as much or more than his martial prowess. This is not really a surprise, given the background of the author, but it is still a pleasant change from common warrior depictions. Even during the fight scenes, you see what Jason is thinking, not just him hacking at the opponent. The fight scenes are realistically short, so it is interesting to see the character come out of the fight and realize the situation around him has not changed much.
The views of the battle of Marathon are interesting with enough info to give a sense of being there without it feeling like a data dump. Overall it is a good time travel adventure story with characters using period accurate weapons (some of which were quite interesting) as well as some future tech. Jason is a well-developed main character who has some interesting sidekicks, who hopefully will reappear in future volumes. The chemistry between the characters is well done with it not the same between everyone and Jason. So he is a realistic team leader who relates to everyone in the best way for them.
We look forward to a much quicker return to this universe for Jason to battle the real pirates of the Caribbean in volume 3, Pirates of the Timestream, due out this coming August.
Readers can meet Steve White at Shevacon, February 8-10, 2013.