Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: Crescent Tides by J. Aaron Gruben

How far would you go to defend the life you knew in the past?

The year is 1562, and Europe is at war with the Ottoman Turks. The climax of this war is the famous naval battle of Lepanto, where the Holy League decisively defeated the Ottoman navy. But what if Lepanto had turned out differently? What if the Turks had defeated the Holy League’s fleet? What impact would this have on Europe? Enter Crescent Tides, a historical novel dealing with these very questions. 

Dr. Calvin “Cal” Schmitt is an ordinary, overworked, veterinarian living in the heart of New Mexico. His life is one unending treadmill of sick animals, irate owners, and overwork in massive quantities. At last he gets a welcome “break” out of the office to visit a sick horse on a man’s property. While setting up, his overcurious technician Fred Kawalkowitz pulls on a bridle in the tack room, opening a door and revealing another room. Dr. Schmitt’s passenger, an ultra-liberal doctor named Sara Perez moves to investigate the room, and sets her feet on a strange device. As Schmitt grabs for her, they are both shot back into time to 1562 and the battle of Lepanto.

The two time travellers are quickly followed by Fred, and discover that they are aboard the La Real, the flagship of the Holy League in a naval battle against the Ottoman Turks. Before they have time to take it all in, a group of armed time travellers appears aboard La Real. With machine guns, they massacre the crew and turn La Real into a Turkish ship. The Holy League, distracted by the takeover of their flagship, is obliterated by the Ottoman fleet. Now nothing stands in the way of a Turkish conquest of Europe. Nothing, that is, except for Dr. Calvin Schmitt.

Knights and Janissaries of the 16th century will forge strange alliances with 21st Century men and their “magic arquebuses.” But whether wielding swords or automatic rifles, each warrior fights for a certain way of life—and these two philosophies will clash on the battlefield.

This book explores several interesting themes: the difference between the 16th and 21st centuries, nobility and knightly conduct, the Crusades, how our decisions affect the future, and the differences between Christianity and Islam. But one of the book’s most powerful themes revolves around trusting a personal God vs. resigning oneself to an inevitable—and impersonal—fate. This was definitely the high point of the book for me.

I enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it. 4/5 stars

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