Earth has been taken over from another dimension. In fact, multiple Earths have been taken over, creating a multiverse-spanning empire. However, like so many empires, it has begun to rot from the inside. Technology stagnates, bickering fills the ruling Council, and on top of that, the First Leader (essentially the emperor) has fallen ill.
Put simply, Nightfall is a combination of classic sci-fi invasion and imperial literature. Set decades after the invasion, it follows a family high in society and the military just as trouble begins to erupt. Earth has been taken over from another dimension. In fact, multiple Earths have been taken over, creating a multiverse-spanning empire. However, like so many empires, it has begun to rot from the inside. Technology stagnates, bickering fills the ruling Council, and on top of that, the First Leader (essentially the emperor) has fallen ill.
Into all of this come the Clemhorns, the ruling family of Etu, one of the parallel Earths. Ivy Clemhorn has recently gotten a promotion, and her brothers are all engaged in their own lives and political pursuits. The narrative bounces between the four of them, revealing their personal joys and sorrows as each is inexorably drawn into what may be the fall of an empire.
Nightfall has an intense backstory, but you wouldn’t know that if you just dove right in. (Well, you would, but it would come to you in bits and pieces as you read.) I saw a debate recently about whether to read the prologue to a fantasy novel or skip straight to chapter one, and the first thing I should say about Nightfall is that you must read the prologue. Before any prospective reader baulks, let me assure you that it isn’t one of those interminable “eons in the past” prologues so many genre readers have gotten used to. In fact, this prologue is only a page long.
Unfortunately, that means those who do read the prologue will only know a bit more than those who don’t. I found myself with enough questions about who was who and just what had happened in the past that I was sometimes distracted from the action. If I have one complaint about the book, it’s that I would have liked more explicit worldbuilding. I wasn’t entirely lost, but I did find myself confused.
That said, the author did skillfully work bits of exposition into the action so that pieces of the plot came together neatly, almost effortlessly. The plot itself, even with its unanswered questions, is a compelling one, and I found myself drawn in.
The book is the first in a series and ends rather abruptly. I wish it could have gone on longer both because I felt it deserved something closer to a conclusion and because I really do want to see what happens next. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the second!
Nightfall is the debut novel for Andrew J Harvey. This science fiction tells the story of the Cross-Temporal Empire and its fifty-four lines facing civil war and being eradicated. The Clemhorn siblings are being conflicted between their lives and their home. The future of the Cross-Temporal Empire depends on the Clemhorn siblings, Conrad, Arnold, Donald and Ivy.
Nightfall is far from my normal genre I generally read. Even though it is not my favorite era, it does prove to me that readers should go outside their comfort zone. They could be missing out on a good read. The book did take me a little bit to understand what was going on with the story. About fifty pages in, I was intrigued and wanted to continue on to see where this tale would lead to next. It is a mixture of suspense, action, adventure, and mystery. I felt like I was on quite a thrilling ride. I did not feel like the plot was in any way predictable. I was surprised at some of the twists. About half way through, I was hooked and wanted to keep reading until the end. The author did a great job bringing this new world to life, as well as, bringing these characters to life.
I am giving Nightfall three and a half stars. I would be interested in seeing where Andrew H Harvey’s imagination will take his readers to in his next release. I recommend Nightfall and believe readers who enjoy alternative history / science fiction would like this one. It is definitely worth a read.
I received this book from the publisher. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.
Clemhorn: Nightfall by Andrew J. Harvey, is the first novel in what promises to be an epic multivolume series.
The novel tells the story of one of the ruling families of the Cross-Temporal Empire, the Clemhorns. The empire they help rule harkens back in the best possible way to those other great timeline-spanning dominions of science fiction such as Keith Laumer’s Imperium or H. Beam Piper’s Paratime.
As we are introduced to the Empire and its inhabitants, we are made aware that all is not well. There is a power struggle at the very top between the ruling families with the death of Empire’s First Leader, setting the stage for a civil war. The action of the novel focuses primarily on the younger generation of Clemhorns: Conrad, Arnold, Donald, and Ivy. For the most part, characterizations are strongly developed and each is clearly delineated with solid narrative arcs, with the plot moving along briskly. Each timeline is given enough detail as to present its own sense of otherness.
I enjoyed the book. But I will also say it demands attentive reading. You may find yourself consulting the appendices that the author has thoughtfully provided at the end of the book as I had. With something this epic, spanning multiple worlds and potentially multiple novels, the thought is definitely appreciated.
Nightfall is a wonderful work of speculative fiction which masterfully encompasses aspects of military sci-fi and alternate history. Set in a world much like our own, it tells the story of the Clemhorn family and their friends as they face a world fracturing under the strain of unrest and rebellion.
Conrad, Arnold, Donald and Ivy are fantastically real characters, and I found myself drawn into this world from the first page. This is a fascinating re-imagining of how our own history might have gone had certain events not occurred, and I found myself fully immersed in this world. I was eager to find out what happened next, and finished the book far too quickly. Just as well there’s a sequel!
Clemhorn Nightfall, first of three novels that follow the mercantile Clemhorn dynasty, is a tour-de-force. Harvey has imagined an alternate future, where survivors from a dying planet have moved across a series of parallel Earths. With superior technology, they absorb and conquer, gathering wealth and power. Ninety years on, Nightfall charts the current Clemhorn generation as they struggle to retain their investments across timelines, and position the family to face cross-temporal civil war.
Harvey has created a massive story arc, with geographic Earth at its centre. Topography across timelines is similar, but varied by local historic, social and developmental difference. His deep knowledge of geography feeds into detailed descriptions of coastlines and countryside, so journeys, espionage, and battlefields leap off the page. Characterisation of the Clemhorns and their adversaries is rich and thick, drawing on his keen observation of people around him. His imaginings of alternate technologies are based on careful research into the physical sciences. For me, they are not a jump too far, and are always constrained by logic or cross-temporal administrative conventions. Bureaucracy, politics and intrigue abound.
So step into Harvey’s complex, detailed and enthralling alternate reality. Clemhorn Nightfall establishes a narrative platform and builds affinity with characters that set you up for the sequels, Clemhorn Nadir and Clemhorn Sunrise. Enjoy!
Synopsis: The Clemhorns are a prominent family in the Cross-Temporal Empire. Ninety years before the events of the story, the humans of the Nayarit Line left their dying world and escaped to a parallel Earth. The inhabitants were unprepared for the technologically advanced Nayarit. From there, the Cross-Temporal Empire expanded across a series of parallel Earths, along fifty-four separate timelines. Now their technology has stagnated. The First Leader of the Cross-Temporal Empire is dying, leaving Council members jockeying for position.
The Clemhorns, as the lead family on the world of Etu, have some say in who would be the new First Leader. They have put forward Brian Clemhorn’s father as a candidate. Brian has four children: Conrad is the oldest and Continental leader of South America on Etu. Arnold is the second and a member of an artistic commune. Donald is the third son and a doctor of Alternate History. Ivy is the only daughter and an officer in Etu’s armed forces. When the First Leader dies, the future of the Empire and their family is at stake.
Review: I’ve always found multi-universe travel stories confusing. Andrew J. Harvey mitigated much of the problem and even made it interesting. Much of the story deals with the tribulations of the various Clemhorn adult children. Conrad and Donald tend to be problem solvers, though Donald has to be pulled out of university to help. Ivy is an officer and often dealing with troubles with locals on the European continent in the Etu timeline. Arnold lives on Mainline as an artist and is estranged from the rest of the family.
The technology does not get over complicated and does tend to be familiar. The characters are engaging and easy to care for. It was hard at first to tell when people started shifting around on timelines. The action sequences were exciting, and one could easily visualize the battles. It is a short read and a good one.
As Mark, a human boy, Windracer, a Terek and her beast a Hrak called Matak, travel between the stars, the first Portal Adventure begins. Mark finds himself drawn into a battle on a planet light years from earth to stop the evil Llarst from building their own inter-galactic gates. With the help of the peace-making Anju, the adventure has only begun.
Space elevators and magnificent lift-offs at Sydney airport, and Tania, a human girl meets Mark after she enters a gate that enables humans to cross light years in a mere second. On a race through time to stop the future unfolding into disaster, the interstellar adventures take the heroes and an array of stunning and bizarre aliens from other times and places, through temporal warp generators and simultaneous time bubbles, surfing temporal waves on a quest to rewrite the past and avert a catastrophe that would surely end the miraculous universe that the characters inhabit.
An outstanding innovation on a well-loved theme. The Portal Adventures is well-told and yes, thoroughly believable.
Mark Spender is adept at travelling long distances. Namely because his entire family has frequently been relocated from Australia to far flung war zones, including Moscow and Wuhan. So when his mother, Muriel Spender, abruptly cancels her son's birthday visit to her archaeological site, Mark decides to go ahead and visit her anyway. This won't be easy as Muriel is off world on Teral 4. To make matters worse, Mark's father - a Colonel with the United Nations Peace Keepers - hasn't yet realised that his son has gone AWOL.
As Mark steps off the cargo plane that transported him from the Space Elevator, his anxiety peaks. For not only is he on unfamiliar ground on Teral 4, but he hasn't had the guts to tell Mom he's coming. Too late Mark realises that he's made an unwise decision and his surprise visit might not be appreciated. And here lies the tale; for Mark is about to discover that nothing is what it seems, friendly folk may be revealed as the enemy, and life on Teral 4 can be difficult, dangerous or just plain scary. Also, unknown to Mark, Muriel Spender and her fellow archaeologists may well be in deep trouble.
Teral 4 is populated by various species of aliens; some are friendly and cooperative like the Tereks and Red Wind clan while other aliens, such as the devious Llarst, perceive human beings as useful but expendable.
Mark stumbles across an ingenious young Terek, known as Windracer, and her extraordinary hrak, Matak. Windracer has already set out on her own quest but she generously offers to help him in his. Enquiring minds are probably wondering what a hrak is. Think of a monstrous beast about three metres tall, with massive tusks, a hairy beard, excessive rolls of brown skin, curling claws and the ability to transport aliens and humans at an astonishing speed. On Teral 4 a hrak is a desirable beast to have on hand. Unless of course it's an untamed wild ha'ak - a close cousin of the hrak - who likes nothing better than stampeding en masse through settlements and campsites in the middle of the night.
Windracer with her high domed forehead, sheathed claws, smooth mottled green and gold skin and flexible hips, travels easily astride Matak, while Mark is mortified that he has to ride backwards with his legs extended. This is not the only indignity he will suffer. Mark doesn't have Windracer's serrated teeth, so chomping into raw animal flesh or roadkill is not an option, and getting enough to eat is problematic. However, despite being small for his age Mark's courage, ability to overcome fear, creativity and general smarts ensure that he and Windracer will outfox their enemies and bring about a power shift on Teral 4.
One of the things I loved about Trouble on Teral is that the main protagonists are not reliant on fancy gadgets, space age hardware or AI robots. Despite the story taking place in the futuristic Human Hegemony, it is Windracer's and Mark's character, stoicism, cleverness and courage that wins out in the end. The character driven aspect of the story is powerful because it is all about beings - both alien and human - putting aside their differences and coming together to defeat the evil that has been surreptitiously unleashed on Teral 4. Given our existing global political situation this has immense appeal.
Another aspect that appealed to me was that the future as conceived by the author is not dystopian. In Harvey's futuristic world, evil certainly exists but not everything or everyone is unpleasant or rotten to the core. The most devious human in the story turns out to have redeeming qualities and the Peacekeepers provide an alternate world view.
In Harvey's universe there's still room for humanity and the concept of a futuristic totalitarian state - currently trending in film, television and books - is not the central theme. The future is not unremittingly bleak and deprivation, terror and oppression can be overcome. The humanitarians and peace keepers of the world can and will succeed.
The subtext of Harvey's novel is that there is hope for all living beings.