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A Tale of Time City [Paperback]

Diana Wynne Jones
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 April 2010

When Vivian is evacuated from London in 1939, she expects to be staying in the countryside. Instead, she is whisked away to Time City – a place that exists outside time and space.

It is a strange and remarkable place, where technology rules – yet important events of both past and future are marked by the appearance of mysterious Time Ghosts.

Here, a Time Patrol works to preserve historical events – but unknown rogue time-travellers are plotting to take control and are stealing the wards that protect the city. If they succeed, Time City and History as we know it will both be destroyed.

Jonathan and Sam are convinced that Vivian can help to save their home – for, astonishingly, she appears as a Time Ghost herself in a forgotten part of the city. But how can she possibly know what to do, when the important event hasn’t even happened yet?!

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks; (Reissue) edition (29 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006755208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006755203
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Diana Wynne Jones is recognised internationally as a major writer of fantasy and in 2007 received a LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD at the World Fantasy Convention. She has also won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award (twice) and the Guardian Award for CHARMED LIFE. Her books have been translated into more than eighteen languages, and her novel HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE was made into an animated film by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. Diana lives in Bristol with her husband, a professor of Early English literature.

Product Description


Praise for Diana Wynne Jones

’[Wynne Jones] has a unique record of producing books you can't forget… Every book is different. And every book is likely to be in someone's top seven… I feel we need to acknowledge how lucky those of us are who grew up on her books, and to ensure subsequent generations enjoy the same intense and subtle pleasure.’ The Guardian

“…Her hallmarks include laugh-aloud humour, plenty of magic and imaginative array of alternate worlds. Yet, at the same time, a great seriousness is present in all of her novels, a sense of urgency that links Jones’s most outrageous plots to her readers’ hopes and fears…”
Publishers Weekly

“Truly magical – guaranteed to leave you gasping – even hotter than Potter”
The Bookseller

“Diana Wynne Jones could teach Stephen King and JK Rowling a thing or two … [she] has a skill for inserting just the right amount of detail in her written words, leaving you satiated but not stuffed.” SFX

From the Back Cover

Time City: A place that exists outside time and space.

When Vivian is evacuated from London in 1939, she is unexpectedly whisked away there, instead of to the safety of the countryside.

The Time Control works to preserve the correct sequence of historic events, but rogue time-travellers are plotting to take control and are stealing the wards that protect the city. If they succeed, Time City and History as we know it will be destroyed.

Jonathan and Sam are convinced that Vivian can help save their world. But how can she possibly know what to do, when the important event hasn't even happened yet?

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wynne Jones at her Best... 20 Jan 2004
By Alida
...which is difficult to say, because all her works are classic, no exceptions.
1) The writing style. When you pick up a book by Jones, you can tell without needing to glance at the author's name. Witty is an understatement. All her books have subtle and not-so-subtle jokes woven into every paragraph, while at the same time writing books that are sensitive and dark.
2) The characters. Jones' most memorable characters are those like Howl from 'Howl's Moving Castle' and Jonathan from this book (Time City). Both are arrogant and smart, and abitious to boot. Jonathan, however, is not the foppish pretty-boy that Howl is. He is very much like that smart kid that is positively certain that he is the smartest, and may well be. He, like Howl, also has very real faults, but in a different sense. While Howl is liable to be messy and spend hours in the bathroom, Jonathan does things much more recognizable: chew on his hair (which may not be recognizable for boys necessarily, but it still hits home with a lot of readers), doubt people, and jump headfirst into things without thinking.
Vivian, the female protagonist, is also imperfect, but also acts as an anchor for Jonathan and Sam (Jonathan's younger cousin)'s outlandish ways. Just like us, she blushes when Jonathan sees her Liberty bodice, she itches in wool sweaters, and she sweats and feels dirty and hot and uncomfortable. She is like the anti-Jonathan, per se. While he is overconfident, she is somewhat self-concious and uncertain. The whole thing balances the book greatly, but still manages to be quite madcap in the same instant.
But it takes all three heroes/heroines to come out victorious over the rolicking, complex plot and all the stakes Jones sets up for them.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Classic Diana Wynne Jones 20 Jun 2007
By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Diana Wynne Jones returns to her favourite themes of time travel and alternate histories in this book. I don't know of any other childrens' author who is so adept at communicating very complicated ideas about time and the effects of time travel and as always, I'm in awe of her world-building skills. Time City has a terminology and set up all of its own and whilst some of the terminology is a little complicated (given that this book is aimed at 8 year olds upwards), it's amazingly easy to get used to - mainly because of the sheer confidence and skill that Jones has with her writing.

And yet for all this, I just didn't find myself loving the book as much as I have her other works. There are two reasons for this:

1. At no point do I emphasise with Vivian or her plight. For someone who has been wrenched from her time, away from her parents and everything she knows, she's remarkably un-upset. Also, the reasons for Jonathan and Sam effectively kidnapping her are a little contrived and don't really make sense once you get to the end of the book and look back on it; and

2. You have no sense of who the bad guys are in this book until right at the end. Put it simply, it's too late. By the time their identity is revealed, the plot's too far gone for you to care about their motivation (which comes in an expositional paragraph) and this really robs the plot of a lot of the mystery that it needs.

Characterisations are also pretty bland and by-the-numbers. Just as I don't feel any empathy for Vivian, nor do I feel anything for Sam or Jonathan either - in fact, the two boys rapidly became an irritation as Jones makes them both manage to be smug.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, exciting and out of this world 4 Aug 2000
By A Customer
When Vivian gets dragged out of the 20th century to a weird and futuristic world, where people dress in "pyjamas" and eat out of machines, instead of the country she start to feel a little more homesick than she was expecting..... The book shows courage,love,hate and strength with twists and turns to make you end up feeling dizzy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Of course, my daughter is now 21 yrs old. So, you might think things have changed. Not so! On a recent visit home from college, Ivy asked if I knew whatever happened to this book. I brought it home from the office (where I keep all my valuables) that very night. She had her nose in it for two days! Guess what? It is STILL a wonderful book! While this book involves time, there is also a major mythological aspect as well. Excellent! You will enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I agree with some other reviewers here that the characters in this story are under-developed. Vivien is quite likeable and fairly well-delineated, but she reacts in a way that is much less emotional than you'd expect from a child who is suddenly dragged from a rural railway station in a village where she is being evacuated in 1939 to a crumbling city outside time, by two irritating boys, for no really convincing reason that I could see. Jonathon and Sam are both slightly tedious, I thought, though I felt Sam came alive more than Jonathon.

I loved Elio and I thought Sempiturn Walker was a good creation though I got very bored with the long descriptions of his running about in a panic before every ceremony. Though Vivian finds this hysterically funny, it just didn't seem very funny to me - not after the first time, anyway. But this might be because I'm not a child myself.

As with all Wynne Jones's books, this is highly imaginative and original, and I thought the guardians were fabulous inventions - I also liked the way the villains turned out to be who they were as I wasn't expecting it. I like the way Jones is unafraid to present some children as hideous and cruel rather than as all brave and good, and I like the way she doesn't always dismiss adults, like some children's books do, but presents children and adults as equally likely to be good, bad and complex. I thought, as with some of her other books, that the story was padded out slightly around 80% of the way in, in order to make it longer, but the final climactic stretch was pretty well-paced, I thought.

The plot is convoluted and unusual, and there is the trademark sly humour, but this novel didn't involve me as much as some of her others have, and didn't create quite the atmosphere I've come to expect from Wynne Jones. But nevertheless, if you're a fan, you'll enjoy it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly entertaining and satisfyingly complex
I read this as a kid and still loved on re-reading it as an adult. Like lots of Jones' stories, this pits competent and smart kids against seemingly insoluble problems while their... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Helen
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book
Bought for 15 year old boy, really into science fiction dystopias and utopias. An engaging, thought provoking and very well written book. Highly recommended.
Published 2 months ago by headbaffling
4.0 out of 5 stars Time travel made easy
Time travel is every person's fantasy at one point or another... but in "A Tale of Time City," it really isn't nearly as fun as you would expect. Read more
Published 5 months ago by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite children's books
When I was about ten I first read this and had such vivid memories of it and the descriptions Diana Wynne Jones produced that I had to re-buy it as an adult!
Published 12 months ago by Mrs. Danielle Bradley
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly brilliant
Vivian Smith, a WWII evacuee to the countryside, is whisked away from the station, and England, and 1939, by her `long lost cousin' and resident of `Time City' Jonathan Lee Walker. Read more
Published on 21 Aug 2011 by Luey
5.0 out of 5 stars A cracking read!
This excellent book was one of the first fantasy novels I read as a child, and introduced me to the genre. All her books are wildly imaginitive and never patronise. Read more
Published on 3 Jun 2003 by The Happy Prince
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Compelling Read
Diana Wynne Jones never misses a beat, but I particularly enjoyed this one for the 2nd World War overlap. Read more
Published on 22 May 2003 by Booksthatmatter
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best books i read as a child
I loved this book the first time i read it and can still read it over and over again. a must for anyone wholikes fantasy books
Published on 26 Jan 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book ever
Not the funniest or most gripping book that I have ever read, but I can read it over and over and over again. A classic.
Published on 20 Nov 1999
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