In an Arizona desert, a man wanders in a daze, speaking words that make no sense. Within twenty-four hours he is dead, his body swiftly cremated by his only known associates. Halfway around the world, archaeologists make a shocking discovery at a medieval site. Suddenly they are swept off to the headquarters of a secretive multinational corporation that has developed an astounding technology. Now this group is about to get a chance not to study the past but to enter it. And with history opened up to the present, the dead awakened to the living, these men and women will soon find themselves fighting for their very survival -- six hundred years ago.
I hadn't known who the author was until much later. Despite not knowing about Michael Crichton, I'm sure the Jurassic Park series is a bit of a household term. I had also read The Lost World but the author had not registered to me then either. Anyway, written by the author of Jurassic Park, Timeline is a similar mixture of science, history and fiction. Science because there is an awful lot of explaining of quantum physics and diffraction and waves. History because the content of medieval descriptions, whether the architecture, the people or the events, comes to par with the science. And fiction because... well... it's clearly fiction.
To be honest, I had expected the novel to be as fast paced and gripping as the reviews at the back said it would be. I wasn't disappointed while I was reading the book, but in retrospect, I found some aspects of the book to be lacking. The characters seemed to shift too much to be realistic while some did not change at all. There were moments when I would pause and say "Really?" in response to something a character did.
Besides that, the story carried too many elements of Jurassic Park. There was the same theme of 'entertainment', where the technology in Timeline was supposed to be used to give people a chance to personally experience history by sending the present to the past- while Jurassic Park simply brought history to the present. Perhaps this book was also written to be turned into a movie, however I have a feeling that the movie would have been a ridiculous flop.
To sum up, I would give Timeline a rating of 3.5/5. It's interesting enough to keep reading (especially if you make it past the science parts- those are pretty hard to understand). The ending is not as nice as I thought it would be and I felt as though several characters were written 'out of character'. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable few hours spent on reading.