A Coin for the Ferryman

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A thrilling time-travel adventure story packed with interesting historical details, Megan Edwards’ A Coin for the Ferryman opens on March 15 in 44 BCE, a date perhaps better known as the Ides of March, as Julius Caesar awakes on what was originally destined to be a very bad day for him. Of course, Caesar is unaware of what is waiting for him on the steps of the Forum and so blithely goes about his business, which allows Edwards to set the scene in Ancient Rome and share engaging insights into his marriage and other relationships.

While Caesar’s fate appears sealed, the action then jumps forward to 2003, which sees Cassandra Fleury struggling through a sleepless night before she and her son finally move out of her mother’s trailer. Hoping to distract herself, Cassandra picks up a book written by Pippa Sykes, a former acquaintance who was dismissed by fellow academics as a crank after formulating an archeological theory involves aliens and time travel. As Cassandra reads, the narrative shifts to Pippa’s perspective as she writes about the unlikely origins of her revelatory findings and her estrangement from mainstream academia.

Cassandra’s story then shifts back in time to 1998, when she is struggling with heartbreak while working as a cocktail waitress in Las Vegas. She reluctantly lets a friend talk her into a night’s work as an escort, being paid a significant sum to keep a visiting businessman entertained. Fortunately, the man in question turns out to be philanthropist Alexander Hunt, who offers her the no-strings-attached chance to pursue her dream of studying classics at college. Meanwhile, Nobel laureate Andrew Danicek is building a new laboratory in which he intends to conduct pioneering experiments in time travel.

All these disparate characters and more are eventually brought together in the pursuance of a bold endeavor: an attempt to extract Julius Caesar from Ancient Rome at the exact moment of his assassination and transport him through time to Danicek’s lab in the California of 1998. In might sound like an extraordinary adventure, but it also poses significant moral questions. Can it ever really be fair to snatch someone from the jaws of death, transport them across time and space, learn everything you can from them, and then send them back to their tragic fate?

A Coin for the Ferryman asks these questions through its characters and in so doing elucidates the divergent views that people will have on the issues. While such aspects of the plot are quite weighty, there is still plenty of action and intrigue to enjoy too. A secret time-travel project was always going to face difficulty remaining secret, just as people were always going to be tempted to exploit the technology for personal gain. Still, it’s not always easy to tell the baddies from the goodies, although there are certain characters who are easier to root for than others.

Edwards has clearly done a great deal of research into the life of Julius Caesar, and she does a commendable job of integrating him into the story as a pivotal character, both in flashbacks to Ancient Rome and in scenes featuring the team from 1998. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the actual mechanics of the time-travel technology are not considered in detail, although the motivation and logistics behind the project do mainly seem plausible. With its novel plot point being the temporal kidnapping of Caesar, A Coin for the Ferryman is an exciting and innovative thriller with a solid historical foundation.

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Star Count 4.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 540 pages
Publisher Imbrifex Books
Publish Date 01-Mar-2022
ISBN 9781945501159
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue March 2022
Category Historical Fiction