Review: Traveller Inceptio by Rob Shackleford

FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Having been a Scuba instructor, a college teacher, and a business executive in tourism, Rob Shackleford is an Australian writer who enjoys travelling. His book Traveller Inceptio, book one of the Traveller trilogy, begins with a man named Michael stumbling through a forest and falling on his hands and knees. Shackleford’s love for traveling brings with it his evident experiences which shows through his vivid setting descriptions. “Three venerable, colossal oaks spread their mighty arms to have their branches entwine like fingers, shading lesser plants from essential sunlight to create the open space.”

Michael encounters a devoted monk named Brother Oeric in a forest who leads him to a monastery in the humble community of Giolgrave. Brother Oeric is a Christian monk and his monk brothers are the first that Michael has ever seen and he aims to lives among them for a time, not knowing that he’s in for one hell of fight that is still far away at this point. The monks and the community of Giolgrave open their hearts to him in a rare way which eventually makes it difficult for him to leave because he has his own path that he needs to follow.

Getting connected to who Michael actually is and what he’s actually doing, a different storyline is set in another time and place and also in the field of science. What starts out as a low level research project gets funded by a generous benefactor and Fortune 500 corporation called Helguard Security. The man at the helm of this research project is Peter Conti. Building a time travelling device called The Traveller. Though time is running out for this project to be completed, what turns things from simple to complicated is that the sponsor has been involved in an espionage programme on their work. Shackleford gives readers a clear picture of how this time travelling works as well as what it’s limitations are, but only later on in the book.

Michael, who comes from the future and who we view as some kind of warrior at first, is schooled in the language of the learned. Living with Brother Oeric, Michael learns how exhausting the life of a Benedictine monk can be. A life which includes copious prayer, service to God, and service to community. He tends to keep his answers concerning his identity hush. When asked by Godric, a man who comes across as one carrying a heavy burden, if he is a Dane, he simply replies that he has travelled far and that he is a friend.

Not all things in the community of Giolgrave revolves around monk life and prayer, especially when it comes to Michael who tends to remind people of the Archangel Michael. Though Michael is initially a mysterious character, he is a trained and disciplined warrior of some sort. The author illustrates his sword practicing sessions with the eye of somebody who has been there. “Michael took solace in the exercise and the weight of the sword, with the hiss of the blade as it cut through the still morning air.” It is after this session that Michael wonders strongly about leaving Giolgrave.

There are different storylines to follow that takes place in different times and places, but Michael’s is the main one as he is a time traveller having gone back to Saxon England, or Aengland as the author writes. Shackleford has a pen for this historical time period. He writes realistically, placing obstacles that make sense. The second chapter introduces us to characters that live in the present time and this readers on a more scientific journey. In the second chapter, we meet a man named Phil Walker playing some pool. One of those cool characters we often meet in novels that involve major scientific breakthroughs.
Phil is part of a research team that gets sponsored by Helguard Security, the same one that Peter Conti, who is related to Mel Conti, one of Phil’s associates, leads.

One of the core subjects covered is time travelling and what effect a time traveller has on history. This relates to the time travelling project funded by Helgaurd Security. A Christian character named Craig opens an interesting argument, saying that there are two rationales to take into account. One being that a time traveller can change history and the second being that the traveller cannot have an effect on the history that he left behind. These two different rationales makes complete sense in that the deed of time travelling in general cannot come without a price.

Whatever charm Michael possesses throughout the whole of the book dissipates systemically after Shackleford’s careful revelation that he is a time traveller. I had him pegged for this mysterious warrior with some kind of history to hide that he didn’t want to reveal to the monks, but he becomes modern, this explorer type that readers have to adapt their minds to. Still, without his presence, it seems that the monks would’ve suffered a terrible fate at the hands of Vikings. Michael impresses again with his astounding and brave heroics. Not only that, he teaches his monk friends to fight back and he aids them in protecting a holy relic.

The last part of this lengthy read gets extremely exciting with the battles at the end. The battle scenes themselves can be a little too violent and gory. Definitely not intended for young readers. Besides making good friends with Giolgrave’s monks, Michael falls in love with a genuinely good woman named Tatae who has a healing nature about her. This romantic side to Michael’s journey was a good touch to the novel.

Michael’s own heroic nature is enough to make any reader cry. Especially when we see him rescuing a girl from a sexual assault. Rob Shackleford’s rendering of battle scenes are poetically and expertly delivered with the eye of someone who knows what it takes to write an epic science fiction novel that lingers long within the reader’s memory. I recommended this book highly to readers who might find themselves invested in learning about Saxon culture and what it means to stand with your family in the face of oppressive and invasive forces.

Kindle Edition:

Publisher: Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd
Date Published: February 28, 2019
Genre: Time Traveller Science Fiction
Pages: 431

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