Friday, September 18, 2015

Portal Through Time [BUFFY]

Portal Through Time

By Alice Henderson (Simon & Schuster, 2006)

RATING:  4/5 Stakes

SETTING:  Season Two

T.V. CHARACTER APPEARANCES:  Buffy, Lucien, Cordelia (as alternate timeline vampire); Hank & Joyce Summers (alternate timeline); Willow, Xander, Giles, Angel, Angelus, Darla

MAJOR ORIGINAL CHARACTERS:  Gorga, Victor & Jason (vampires); Zaaargul the Seer (demon); Incinii (Welsh Slayer 60 C.E.); Eyra (Incinii’s Watcher); Ejuk (Sumerian Slayer 2700 B.C.E.); King Gilgamesh; Namtar (Plague God); Agatha Primrose (American Slayer 1862); Niles Hallowell (Agatha’s Watcher); Marguerite Allard (French Slayer 1792)

BACK-OF-THE-BOOK SUMMARY:  “Buffy thought she’d finished the Master when she dusted him.  But in Sunnydale things have a way of coming back.  . . .  The Master may be dead, but he is not forgotten.  One of the vampire lord’s devotees sets out to alter the past so that he can resurrect the Master without Buffy’s meddling.  When he conjures up a portal to transport his minions through time, the vampires are poised to murder the most power slayers in history!  It is up to the Scoobies to stop the Master’s followers before they break the chain of slayers.  Giles, Xander, Willow, and Buffy pursue the vamps back in time through the portal to save the slayers of the past.  They must track the bloodsuckers from the French Revolution to the American Civil War without getting detected—or worse!  But you can’t change the past without changing the present.  . . .


You’ve got to give this one points for creativity: time-travel and Buffy are not a natural combination, but the novel actually holds together reasonably well.  It starts out with a gruesome but effective opening, putting the reader right into the thick of things as vampires murder a pre-Hellmouth Buffy, and then, a couple of chapters later, cut a three-year-old Buffy in twain!  Interestingly, the vampires plot to resurrect the Master by making it so Buffy never comes to Sunnydale keeps failing, so the vampires decide they need to interrupt the Slayer line more definitively.  This section of the book is a nice connection to the Tales of the Slayers short stories, as Buffy and her friends go back in time to save each of four different historical Slayers.  Without knowing much about each of the time periods, there weren’t any jarring anachronisms (at least to me), and each mini-adventure was fun and different.  Semi-continuity buffs may be interested by the backstory given Lucien (he knew Giles in the Ripper days, for example) and the brief appearance of Angelus and Darla.  Overall, the characterisation, dialogue, and action are solid, and the plot is original enough (for Buffy), that this is one of the better Buffy novels I’ve read.

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