Aarti's thoughts are in purple and mine are in black. You can read the second part (even though it has already been up there for a day) of the discussion over at Aarti's blog.
How did you find coming back to this world after so long? Did you slip straight back in or did it take you a little while to get used to it again.
Aarti: It took me a little while to get used to it again. I think I was trying to understand the rules of time travel for the first bit and then just gave up. For example, I still have no idea how Kivrin was sent to the wrong year! I think I jumped straight back into the atmosphere, though - I could imagine the snow falling, all those bells tolling, the shoppers hurrying to get home, the university deserted for Christmas vacation, and later on, the terror people had about the possibility of another pandemic.
Marg: Yes, I never quite got my head around how she ended up in the wrong year.
If I was to pick just one word to describe this book it would be frantic. In both the present and the past there was such a feeling of impending disaster as both people at both ends of history tried to work out what was going on and would they be able to figure out how to save their people.
Aarti: Oh, yes! I felt like we just kept getting peeks into a very complicated scenarios and were left in the dark about everything else. It was strange because the “present” in the book was so frantic and stressful, whereas the past seemed so quiet, without much action at all.
I admit I thought that the plague would have showed up a lot earlier in the book. It only really came more than halfway through. I guess I can see why, as Kivrin’s entries became somewhat repetitive at that point, just about the exhausting work of having to care for other people. I didn’t expect so much build-up to the action. What did you think of that?
Marg: I had been warned that this was very much a plague book so I kept on waiting for it to turn up in the pages. I initially thought that Kivrin had caught it very early on so when it finally did show up, I guess I wasn’t surprised. There was a lot of caring for the other characters, and I was moved when some of the characters died but there were others where it was more an afterthought reaction - oh, so and so finally died.
Let‘s talk about the characters. I loved the character of Colin. I couldn’t remember any of the characters from this book appeared in TSNOTD but I do know that they are in BlackOut and All Clear and I can’t wait to see him again.
Aarti: I really had fun with Colin, too! He had such a hilarious vocabulary :-) I don’t know if any of these characters appeared in TSNOTD, either - no memory of them!
I had trouble feeling connected to the characters in the 14th century. It wasn’t that there were too many, it was just that they didn’t seem to have much personality. Kivrin seemed so isolated from everyone except Agnes and the priest. They were all so absorbed in their own problems and I didn’t get to know them at all. In contrast, I thought I knew the people in the present much better. Colin, for example, had a great force of personality. I also understood better the relationships between the characters in the present. They had history together, and interacted much more often than those in the past. Did you have a similar reaction or a very different one?
Marg: Definitely! I think part of the reason that we didn’t feel connected to any of them is that Kivrin was trying to live up to her created persona rather than be herself and therefore she was always on edge trying to ensure that she didn’t say or do the wrong thing and behave in a way that would be inappropriate for a young woman in that time.
Aarti: Very true - that probably had something to do with it. I just got the impression that Kivrin hardly ever TALKED to anyone except Agnes. So even when the plague hit and people started dying, I felt completely distanced from the action and didn’t even really know who was
Now click here to read the second part of the discussion.
Kivrin knows everything about the Middle Ages - she's read all the books. She knows it's dangerous: cutthroats in the woods, witch hunts, cholera, and millions dying in the plague. For a young historian, it's fascinating.
When Kivrin's tutors in Oxford's history lab finally agree to send her on an on-site study trip, she jumps at the chance to observe medieval life first-hand. But a crisis that strangely links the past and future leaves her stranded in the most deadly and terrifying era in human history, face to face with the heart-rending reality behind the statistics. And while she fights for her own life, Kivrin finds she has become and unlikely angel of hope in this dark time.
This book also fulfills the "something you would carry in your purse/handbag" category for the What's in a Name challenge as I always carry at least one