Originally posted at Bibliophilia, Please [[...]
This review covers the first four books in the series, as they're kind of fast moving and these cover the first arc.
Move over Marty McFly! Here comes Conrad Stargard, and he will make out with your mother.
It's semi-modern day Poland, and Conrad got massively drunk, stumbled into a storeroom in an inn and passed out. He woke up in 1231 A.D., lost, penniless and without even knowing he was stranded in time. And then things got bad. He had a massive hangover.
Conrad's an engineer and a communist. The book does get into politics and religion a bit, but it's not a theological or philosophical book. It's about timetravel, action, and plenty of naked women. Sex scenes are not very graphic, but sex is pretty much ever-present. I don't know if it's a reflection of the times, or if the author just liked the idea of his main character having sex with tons of eager young ladies.
I like Conrad. He's a bit too stupidly moral and honorable, but he's a good main character for the times. Smart, resourceful, determined and on a mission. Thanks to a good education in history, Conrad knows just how much trouble Poland, and him and everyone in it, are in. The Mongols are coming in 10 years and will kill and ravage everything and everyone in sight. Well, not if Conrad has anything to say about it!
The first four books cover these 10 years and Conrad's attempt to prepare Poland to survive the Mongol Horde. It's a fun ride to watch him attempt the Industrial Revolution a couple hundred years before its time. Teaching blacksmiths how to make proper steel, introducing the loom for faster and better cloth, steam engines, a proper army, you name it. All to prepare to repel, or even defeat, the invading army coming.
The thing I enjoyed the most were the technological advances. Moving from the Middle Ages to steam power to armor, machines guns, airplanes, steamboats. It was pretty fun. By book two, I realized that he rarely didn't accomplish his goals, which relieved the tension of Poland being trampled by the Mongols, or Conrad dying, so I just went along for the ride and watched him change time. Not having the threat of failure may sound boring, but it actually made it more enjoyable for me. Go figure.
Don't forget time travel! Every now and then there's an interlude and we get a glimpse of people watching a "documentary" about Conrad's life. But as the books move on, time seems to split. Things are appear to be different between memories and recorded fact and alternate timelines pop up. Then things start to get all wibbly wobbly.
But enough spoilers. This was a pretty fun read. I read at the rate of about one book a day and enjoyed the ride. It's fast-paced, fun, sciency, action, and male centric. This series is not for everyone, but if you can move past the whole male-centric society without a really strong female character, then you'll have some fun.