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Fiction Book Reviews

Historical Fiction | The Outcasts of Time | Ian Mortimer

I was drawn to The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer not only for its historical content.  Two brothers travelling through time away from plague ridden 1348?  Just imagine what they would encounter through the ages.  Would they be able to cope?  How would they understand in comparison to the world they knew? I had so many questions about the plot!


Format: Kindle Edition

File Size: 5928 KB

Print Length: 400 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (15 Jun. 2017)

Language: English


December 1348. With the country in the grip of the Black Death, brothers John and William fear that they will shortly die and go to Hell. But as the end draws near, they are given an unexpected choice: either to go home and spend their last six days in their familiar world, or to search for salvation across the forthcoming centuries – living each one of their remaining days ninety-nine years after the last.

John and William choose the future and find themselves in 1447, ignorant of almost everything going on around them. The year 1546 brings no more comfort, and 1645 challenges them still further. It is not just that technology is changing: things they have taken for granted all their lives prove to be short-lived.

As they find themselves in stranger and stranger times, the reader travels with them, seeing the world through their eyes as it shifts through disease, progress, enlightenment and war. But their time is running out – can they do something to redeem themselves before the six days are up?


John and William.  Brothers who are very different!  John a mason, married with children and very Saturnine – living life following church doctrine, pious, always thinking about what is the best thing to do …  while William is still single and enjoying his dalliances with married women, getting the most enjoyment he can from life with very little responsibility.  John is the thinker (good vs bad) while William is the feeler.

It’s December 1348 and the plague is everywhere.  We join them on the road as they travel (there’s no holding back from the sights they see making it easy to feel what they’re feeling).  Comparisons are made from how Honiton was 11 weeks ago to what it’s like now.  An action John makes prompted by his beliefs causes them to be chased from the blacksmith’s in Exeter.  Hiding out on the ramparts he finds out he has 7 days to prove his goodness and needs to make his way to Scorhill Stone Circle where he will be given the terms.  And so begins their travel through time with each day equalling 99 years into the future.

This story is AMAZING.  I loved not only the changes through the time periods on the outside but also the gradual changing and acceptance on an inner level.  From sleeping in their brother Simon’s barn on the first night through to 1942 I became a part of this story.  I experienced John’s bewilderment at the changes to the law, not knowing if his deeds were good or a sin or if he was living in hell.  The similarities through each day despite people being more civilised made me think about humanity and were we really any different?  John learns from the people he meets but leaves with more questions than answers.  Until the last day.  I had no idea what was coming! but once I knew I could see the clues leading up to the reveal.  I was so involved with the story I hadn’t seen the ‘who’ or ‘why.’ Loved this 🙂  So inspired.

Although each day interested me, I particularly liked spending time in 1843 with Father Harrington and his family in Exeter.  I felt that was a turning point for John and where he received the most care and attention for body and soul.  The most uncomfortable day I spent was in the workhouse.  From researching my family tree I had some knowledge but this felt much more personal because I felt as if I was part of the story.  Some heart pounding moments for me in there!  This was one of the days where I felt John’s beliefs stood him in good stead.

The Outcasts of Time has a great pace (those 400 pages fly by), solid characters and an unusual plot.  If you enjoy historical fiction you should be reading this.  Highly recommended.

Connect with Ian Mortimer

   Twitter @IanJamesFM

Qualified as a Sleep Consultant, Dyslexia Therapist, Reiki Master, Mental Health First Aider and Mindfulness Practitioner, my passion is for sharing anything that will make life easier. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind.

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