Time Shards is the first novel in a new trilogy by Dana Fredsti and David Fitzgerald. The series follows Amber as time shatters around her and is forced to explore this new version of Earth that has been seemingly divided into a series of different time zones, or shards.
From conversations with Dana Fredsti on the Geek Pride podcast (here), Time Shards was originally intended as the setting for a roleplaying game. Instead, Fredsti and Fitzgerald took the idea and created a epic science fiction that has the fate of the Earth, and reality itself, at stake.
Fredsti is most famous for the Ashley Parker and the Lilith novels, which utilise strong female protagonists and have a strong undercurrent of geekery running through them. Time Shards is no different, as Amber is delightfully geeky and experiences ‘the shattering’ whilst in cosplay. This makes for a wonderfully unique predicament, which Fredsti and Fitzgerald fully explore.
What stands out most about Time Shards is the original take on time travel and how it impacts the setting. Having time shattered – akin to mosaic been put together in the wrong order – allows the authors to essentially explore time-travel without the usual headaches of paradoxes, predeterminism and inadvertently becoming your own parent.
Amber is predominantly the viewpoint character. As she is a typical 21st century person, Amber is a wonderfully relatable character. She becomes a proxy for the reader, acknowledging that not everyone has expert survivalist skills and combat training. Yet, Amber is not completely helpless, as she swiftly becomes a resourceful and competent individual, whose growth is a joy to follow.
Time Shards is resplendent with a diverse cast of characters, from Cam, a young warrior from Roman Brittania, to Cromwellian soldiers and their witchfinder. It was particularly refreshing (and amusing) to see the language barrier explored, with Amber struggling to communicate with Cam. There are no universal translators here.
Through much of this first book, Amber is struggling to discover what happened and find safety, whilst running away from rampaging dinosaurs (a side effect of time being shattered), whilst forming a group with a series of individuals in similar predicaments.
The introduction sets up a neat twist towards the end. For once, this was a genuine surprise and can leave readers reassessing everything they had read to that point (a good sign of a strong twist). The story ends with a nail-biting stand-off and resolves many of the book’s story arcs, whilst establishing where the trilogy will go from here.
It would have been good to see a greater variety in the different time shards, as there only seemed to be a few different time zones interlinked. What was encountered is nonetheless thrilling, but can leave the reader wanting to see more shards of time.
Nonetheless, Time Shards is fantastic first book in a new science fiction epic that is populated with some excellent characters and has a genuinely original take on the time-travel genre.