“Time flies when you’re plundering history.”
Or when you’re reading Invictus. I haven’t read many time travel stories. But most of the ones I have read (or, in this case, watched) are fun but always leave me poking at plot holes.
Because do you have any idea how complicated time streams and the like get when they split or cross or things don’t go as planned? I’ve barely considered it for my own writing and even that’s enough to make my head spin.
Invictus, however, by Ryan Graudin, does an amazing job from start to finish. It is, to date, the most cohesive time-travel story I’ve encountered.
Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.
But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.
Characters/emotion: Invictus is made up of a unique cast of characters, each with their own quirks, voices, backgrounds, and skills. From Faraway, the child born outside of time, to Imogen with her running ship’s log of useless information to Eliot, the stranger no one knows anything about, this is a collection of characters you won’t soon forget. 8/10
Plot: It’s not often you find a stand-alone novel these days with an in-depth storyline, but Invictus does it. It plunges you deep into a complicated, culturally saturated world without losing sight of what matters plot-wise. I did call most of the twists ahead of time, but the ending was still satisfactory. 7/10
Theme: Solid themes of love, friendship, and the importance of others over one’s self. 7/10
Prose: Amazing! Each character’s voice is subtly different and the prose is a beautiful study of unique writing without saturating the novel with ‘cool lines.’ 8/10
Content: A little romance as a subplot but nothing cringy. Language is pretty clean, as far as I remember it, except for some made-up exclamations.
I would recommend this book for early teens and up.
“When humanity steps into the shoes of gods, things will go awry.”
If you enjoy time travel, heists, and snarky characters, then you should give Invictus a read.
And if you want to learn to write prose like the author of Invictus, check out my breakthrough prose coaching here!