Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Portal Through Time

Author: Alice Henderson
Pocket Books
RRP: 6.99, US $6.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 4165 2688 9
ISBN-10: 1 14165 2688 9
Available 04 December 2006

Buffy thought she'd finished the Master when she dusted him. But in Sunnydale things have a way of coming back... The Master may be dead, but he is not forgotten. One of the vampire lord's devotees sets out to alter the past so that he can resurrect the Master without Buffy's meddling. When he conjures up a portal to transport his minions through time, the vampires are poised to murder the most powerful slayers in history. It is up to the Scoobies to stop the Master's followers before they break the chain of slayers. Giles, Xander, Willow, and Buffy pursue the vamps back in times through the portal to save the slayers of the past. They must track the bloodsuckers from the French Revolution to the American Civil War without getting detected - or worse. But you can't change the past without changing the present...

Portal Through Time is one of the best Buffy books I've read. However, I'm going to be mega critical here, but only because I enjoyed it so much and have a few nit-picks I want to raise.

When, at the age of 15, I went to the cinema to see Back to the Future, almost over night I became a paradox geek and would spend break times discussing the numerous pitfalls that most time travel movies fell into. To be fair the Back to the Future trilogy did cover itself pretty well but there are still plot points that need clearing up (click here to see some of the nit-picks our resident anorak has been asked on the Back to the Future movies).

So, Portal Through Time was a book that I was itching to read. And it didn't disappoint. Even the accidental reprinting of a sentence on page 316 made me chuckle. It looked like a deliberate time gag - although sadly it wasn't.

The basic plot follows Buffy and the gang as they have to travel through time attempting to stop a band of vampires killing off old slayers. This is being done in order to ensure that Buffy is not turned into a slayer and doesn't prevent the Master from opening the Hellmouth. It's quickly explained that they can't just go back and kill Buffy just before she kills the Master, or when she is a small girl - both of which they try to do. So, with the help of an ancient artefact, they manage to track down four slayers from the past that need to be killed in order to ensure that Buffy is never called in the first place.

Some of the points I wanted to raise though include:

Why do the Scoobies assume that they can go back to save the slayers in any order they want? Surely it would make sense to start from the oldest time period and work forwards in time. If the vampires have already gone back and altered time, then after the earliest slayer was killed and the vampires had returned to the present day before going back again, the next slayer to kill may have changed. Originally four slayers were chosen in order to ensure that Buffy was never called as a slayer. The Scoobies need to start saving the slayers starting with the one furthest back in time and following the time line that way.

Also, how come every time they make a jump any vampires they have staked in a previous confrontation are not there? This would only be the case if the Scoobies jumped back in time in exactly the same order as the vampires. It would be quite possible for Buffy to stake one Vampire in one time jump, but then meet up with him again on the second time jump (if he had gone to that time period first and then to the time period he was dusted at a later jump).

Being super clever, couldn't the Master's followers just have gone back and killed the surprise edition to the fourth and final jump? Without giving anything away, there is a surprise awaiting the Scoobies on their final time jump. But, we later learn that the person killed there affects the present day, and without them the Scoobies wouldn't be able to jump back and stop the vampire gang in the first place. This being the case the Master rises (as we discover when they return to the present day). So, killing this person in the first place would have been much easier than jumping back through time four times. But I suppose that would have resulted in a rather dull book.

Author, Alice Henderson, has really gone to town doing her research for this book. Not only are the time periods recreated accurately (without seeming as though she is trying to thrust the finer details down the readers throat), but all of the characters live and breathe like the TV characters. What a shame the show is no longer running, as this would have made a perfect episode - or perhaps a Buffy movie.

If I have one complaint, it's only that everything is resolved a little too quickly. The final time jump is so quick that I got the feeling that Henderson had plenty more material but that someone had cut everything back to keep the book under 350 pages.

This is one of the few Buffy books that I've read and then felt compelled to reread again almost immediately. If you read only one Buffy book, then make sure it's this one. It's certainly worth investing your time in.

Darren Rea

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