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For Kivrin preparing an on site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone For her instructors in the twenty first century it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be receivedBut a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her In a time of superstition and fear Kivrin barely of age herself finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history's darkest hoursConnie Willis draws upon her understanding of the universalities of human nature to explore the ageless issues of evil suffering and the indomitable will of the human spirit


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    Somehow by the year 2053 we'll have invented time travel but lost the use of cell phone technology You'd think that was a pretty good trade off right? Well if you've read a few of Connie Willis' future historian time travel books you know that we're probably better off as we are because without cell phones it seems humanity would spend most of its days in fevered attempts to place calls by landline video phone narrowly missing one another encountering busy circuits unable to locate anyone not at his home or office This would go on for hundreds of pagesOr look at it this way Connie Willis really needs an editor Because this is 12 of a fantastic book grafted to 250 pages of tiresome running about with no real purpose This is the same format Willis prefers for all of her longer works lots of really great writing and compelling characters but you have to wade through a bunch of repetitive funny bits to get to them most of which seem to have to do with telephones I also could have done without nearly a dozen scenes of characters almost dispensing vital information then falling into unconsciousnessBut after a few hundred pages all the annoying stuff is over with and suddenly you're falling in love with all of the characters and dreading what's going to happen to them especially the ones in the Middle Ages because the Black Death wasn't known for leaving a whole lot of survivors And I'll say one thing for Willis she isn't afraid to kill characters you like and here she kills a lot of them The end of the book is profoundly sad and only a tiny bit uplifting the ultimate message is that there is value in the struggle even if the outcome is failure And yet it's not a depressing read somehow It's also not quite as gross and plague y as you might fear with only a small portion of the text devoted to lancing sores and vomiting blood So that's always nice