The Doomsday Code by Alex Scarrow

Denise, today’s guest reviewer, is a librarian and avid reader.  This is one of several guest posts she has contributed to the blog.

Doomsday CodeGoodreads: The Doomsday Code
Series: Time Riders #3

Summary: Maddy, Liam and Sal are three unlikely friends – unlikely considering the fact that they all come from different times. And they all have one thing in common: they are supposed to be dead. Now they function as Time Riders, traveling through time and space to protect the world as we know it from those who would seek to change it – and in this adventure, they find themselves unraveling massive changes during the Middle Ages. During the reign of Richard the Lionheart, to be exact. In Nottingham. Yes, even in Sherwood Forest. With the Holy Grail at the center of all the chaos.

Review: This book is actually the third in the Time Riders series, and I have not read the other two. That being said, while I am sure going back to read the other two would produce many ‘aha, that makes sense now!’ moments, I felt able to follow the characters and the plot fairly well. I read it, of course, because I had read that Robin Hood was involved and it sounded different and interesting – most of which proved true enough.

Let me be quite frank in saying that I would not label this book a Robin Hood retelling exactly. Is there an outlaw band running around Sherwood Forest, with someone called Hood as their leader? Absolutely. How about a Sheriff of Nottingham, mistreating the good people he governs? Well, yes, for about five minutes, before one of our main characters elects to become the Sheriff in his stead and begins to do things very differently. And Richard is King and on the Crusades! With Prince John ineptly handling England in his absence. But you will not find any of the familiar scenes found in most Robin Hood retellings and you will find no Little John or Will Scarlet or even Maid Marian among the outlaw band. Hood himself is changed beyond all recognition as a character, but I will not say much more than that, so as not to ruin the story for you. This book is not trying to retell the legend of Robin Hood – it is playing with it, at best imagining an alternative explanation for who Hood was and why he did what he did. He becomes a much more sinister character, the author playing with the readers’ desire to see a Hood they can sympathize with, as they so often have in other retellings. It also reimagines both John and Richard as characters, turning their traditional characters on their heads and creating a John who is not quite wicked and a Richard who is not quite noble. On this level, I found the book very interesting, indeed, especially when I found myself confronted with a competent Sheriff of Nottingham with whom I was clearly meant to sympathize.

This book clearly integrates the legends of Robin Hood, but is bent on telling its own story, which is an interesting one. It was clear that much about the characters and the relationships among them had been developing over time, but their development is well done, in my opinion, and makes me more inclined to pick up the previous books to read about the other adventures that they had that put them where they are in this book. The time travel element was not something I focused too much on as I read, but there were times when I was a little confused with how it worked/did not work in the story. Considering I missed the initial explanation of time travel (I’m assuming, anyway) and its rules in an earlier book though, and considering that time travel is a complex plot device for authors to pick up in the first place, I did not have much of a problem suspending most of my confusion about it to enjoy the story and let it enhance the tale. I have even less experience reading books that incorporate clones, but Bob and Becks – the clone characters in this book – are well done and are a lot of fun to see in action as well.

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