The Ship Beyond Time is the sequel to The Girl From Everywhere, which I didn’t review on this blog. This review shouldn’t contain any spoilers for book one, as far as I’m aware, but it might not make sense if you’re not aware of the context (time-travelling ship where travel is dependent on maps of places and you can’t go back to the same place/time twice). I wrote a very brief review of book one on Goodreads, if you’re interested.
I really enjoyed reading this: it was certainly a worthy sequel, though the immediacy of the stort made me think it was probably a good thing I read it immediately after the first book, as I might have struggled to orient myself if there’d been a longer gap.
It’s my favourite kind of time travel story, which is to say, it’s one where time travel provides the setting and circumstances for the plot, but not the plot itself, so you don’t end up tangled in paradoxical knots. That said, this book plays a bit more with paradoxes than the first one, and in some ways, less with actual time travel — the lands the characters travel to are mythological rather than historical, which I found intriguing.
As with the first book, I also greatly enjoyed that it took place on a pirate ship, even if it’s docked most of the time so there’s minimal sailing.
The setting in some ways is a bit less detailed — the first book takes place in Hawaii, which is where Heilig is from, so there’s a level of detail that only comes from personal knowledge. This one, however, takes place mainly on a mythological island (coming from Breton folklore, which is pretty cool): specific cultural details and nuances of the setting are less likely as a result. It’s still quite a richly described world that avoids veering into purple prose, though.
As you might have guessed, the folklore aspcets of the book caught my eye, because I’m a nerd about that kind of thing. Oddly enough, a couple of weeks after I read this, a post crossed my Tumblr dashboard with someone seeking the name of the story this is based on, and I wouldn’t have known the answer if I hadn’t read this book. (It’s the Breton story of Ys/Is/Kêr-Is, for those who are interested.)
I have to admit, there were a few things I found somewhat difficult to follow, and a few characters I couldn’t quite keep track of what had happened to them. This was partly because I’m tired and struggling a lot with brain fog recently (I swear my intelligence is about half its usual level in these recent weeks; I’ve been struggling to understand things I usually find perfectly clear), and partly because of the aforementioned paradoxes and the idea of alternate timelines and the fact that nothing is quite what it seems to be. These mostly didn’t limit my enjoyment of the book, though.
One thing I particulary appreciated was that although the book came very close to love triangle territory, it mostly avoided going there. It would have been extremely easy for it to fall into more predictable patterns, but while there was a certain amount of tension and rivalry, that didn’t get in the way of the plot. So, that was good.
On the whole, it was an enjoyable sequel to a book I liked a lot, and it effectively distracted me from my work for three hours, then made me late to bed — so, thanks, Heilig, for that one.