The Traveler (2005)
The Traveler (2005)
The Traveler has been my riding the PRT/sitting in waiting rooms book for the past month. However, once I got a third of the way into the book, it moved out of my jacket pocket and became my primary book to read.
Maya is the daughter of a Harlequin–a group that has dedicated their lives to protecting Travelers. A group called the Tabula (or the Brethren, depending upon your point of view) has attempted for centuries to destroy the Travelers, because they seem them as a threat to an ordered society. As the daughter of a Harlequin, Maya is raised to be a Harlequin, which means weapons and martial arts training from a young age, gaining the knowledge of different languages and the art of disguise, and learning to hide from The Vast Machine–the database that has come to link all individuals together, through computer database and security cameras.
What I found most intriguing about The Traveler is that is takes place in our world. Little of the technology of The Vast Machine is beyond what exists now (and may actually exist now, controlled by various government agencies) so I can easy imagine an organization such as the Brethren keeping tabs on individuals all over the world, and tying together all the security cameras, credit card databases, and passport RFID chips.
The other thing I liked is that none of the skills the Harlequins have attained are unreasonable or unbelievable, and the book describes their constant vigilance and practice.
What I did not care for was the fact that I finishing up the book when I realized that there was no way the entire story that had been set up was going to be concluded in a single book. I really don’t like to start trilogies or series that are not yet concluded. (See: Robert Jordan and The Wheel of Time.) But, I have to admit that for a trilogy, this book ended rather cleanly. The story arc of the book is finished, everyone who is alive is relatively safe, and although the major problems have not been solved, the book ends at a clean spot.
But aside from being part of a trilogy, I very much enjoyed The Traveler. I liked Maya and her conflict between how she was raised, and what is now expected of her. I liked Gabriel and his attitude towards like and the world around him. I like the sense of freedom that Gabriel displays, as he lives off the grid as much as he can, although I would not want to live such a solitary life. And I like the ideas of the book–that living off the grid does not necessarily mean living without technology, and that technology in and of itself is not evil–it is only the applications to which man puts that technology that creates evil.
I also liked the secondary characters, Vicki and Hollis. I thought Vicki’s reactions to Maya, and her shifting opinion were reasonable and well done.
The only weakness I found was that I didn’t find some of his depiction of female characters necessarily true to life. There wasn’t anything big, but occasionally something just seemed “off” about the way Maya or Vicki acted or behaved.
But other than those two caveats, I otherwise found this a very strong and very interesting book.
What I also found very interesting, is that if you check Amazon, the reviews are all over the place, so it seems that you may want to read a chapter or two before purchasing the book to determine which category you’ll fall into. Me? I liked it and am looking forward to the next two books. But then I’m a sucker for books with strong female protagonists.