on August 3, 2001
I have to confess, first of all, that "Walking to Babylon" is the only post-"Doctor Who" New Adventure that I've read. After Virgin's "Doctor Who" license lapsed, I chose not to follow the Benny NAs. I came to this book solely because it was written by Kate Orman, and I wanted to read her non-DW work to see what she was up to. Happily, "Walking to Babylon" is a marveolous book.As with most DW stories, it benefits from a small cast. This provides for a small-scale, charming read, strongly in Kate's tradition. Ancient Babylon is threatened by a recurring storyline from the Benny Books, and even though I entered this series with Book 10, I was able to follow along. Bernice, as always in Kate's stories a savvy, well-read archaelogist, hardly ever a hostage to campiness, is dispatched to 570 BCE to foil an alien incursion of dubious intentions. Babylon is gentle and evocative of other locales Kate's visited, and Earth's distant past is never patronized.I only had two problems with the book. First, and this is a problem also extant in SLEEPY, Return of the Living Dad, and Room With No Doors, is that the initial premise -- a rich one -- gets lost in a set of non-threatening plot twists about halfway through. The guest cast is replaced by characters not present at the outset, and the end result, playing with a different set of cards, is always less memorable.Second is John Lafayette, the Edwardian translator mistakenly transported to Babylon, where he becomes an erstwhile romantic foil for Benny. The Benny/John pairing has things to say about sex, mores, and politics -- it's just that these statements once again catapult Benny into the preachy caricature she's been in far too many prior books. Self-righteousness becomes no-one, and hardly replace the awe Benny could have felt at visiting Babylon.But in the long run, or walk, this book is still well worth reading, and I'm glad I entered the Benny series to find it.
on February 15, 2000
On the surface, WALKING TO BABYLON sounded like a fairly standard novel--having to walk back in time to Ancient Babylon to stop two time travelers before the world is destroyed.
This is, however, anything but a fairly standard novel. Kate Orman draws the readers into the struggles of archaeologist Bernice Summerfield, who finds herself on a race against time to remove two rogue travelers whose very presence endangers all of Earth's history.
As strong as the plotting itself is, it's the little details that help carry the book forward. Bernice's characterization is incredibly strong, and it's one of the few books where you can really feel the clock ticking, through the characters's tension and emotion which oozes through the page.
Lyrical, witty, and brave; WALKING TO BABYLON is Kate Orman at the top of her game.
on June 19, 1999
First of all, I have liked every Kate Orman book I've ever read. She writes like a fan, so it's been said, but I think that this is a compliment.
Simply put, this is the best of the New Adventures so far. I read the entire book in one sitting. Could not put it down. I enjoy all the stories that feature God and The People.
So why should somebody buy it? Simply put, Bernice Summerfield might be the most interesting character in series science fiction today, especially the way Kate Orman imagines her. Long live Bernice!