________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 31. . . .April 12, 2013


Fortuna. (A Felix Taylor Adventure).

Nicholas Maes.
Toronto, ON: Dundurn, 2013.
250 pp., trade pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 978-1-45970-561-6.

Review by Stephanie Dror.

** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



"Felix!" Carolyn called. Turning around, Felix spied her. She was exiting the baths and arranging the folds of her palla. She lifted her gaze and saw that Felix was watching. She nodded in greeting then froze in her tracks. An instant later she was racing toward him. With a frown of confusion, Felix spun about. Now he was sprinting forward as well.

The hooded guy was rushing the old man. He was two metres off and closing in quickly. In his right hand he was clutching a dagger. There was no mistaking his violent intentions. Aceticus had seen him, too; his sad frown had changed to a look of horror.

It was like a dream in which Felix was being chased and, as hard as he tried, there was no escape. His legs were weighted down and the air seemed to grip him, as if it contained a million microscopic hooks. Carolyn was beside him and lagging just as noticeably. Both saw the "child" grab hold of his victim and, with two, sharp movements, thrust his arms aside. Both screamed in warning as Aceticus flinched. Both saw the fall of the knife, its point aimed straight at the old man's sternum. Both howled in anguish although their screams were silent.

The world was suddenly an explosion of red.


One year has passed since Felix Taylor, accompanied by Carolyn Manes, travelled to ancient Rome in the events of Nicholas Maes's last novel, Laughing Wolf. Humanity has continued to develop newer technologies, eradicating emotions with ERR technologies and memories with the Mem-rase program, all in the name of efficiency and ease. But someone, someone close to Felix, has discovered the top secret time machine and has travelled back into the past. It immediately becomes clear that their intention is to undo Felix's discovery of Lupus Ridens. Felix and Carolyn embark on a race through time to stop the re-emergence of the plague. If they fail, their world will be destroyed. Felix, still one of the few people left in the 23rd century who has refused to install technology into his body, finds once again that his knowledge of ancient history and languages will be essential to his mission.

      This creative blend of futuristic fiction, historical fiction, time travel and fantasy build a thought-provoking and curious world. Fortuna is full of twists and turns, time jumps and inventive technologies. The book continues the debate over whether technology has advanced humanity or hindered it. The importance of history, books and a hunger for knowledge is clear as Felix delicately navigates ancient Rome and its strange mix of civility and brutality. He then travels to a time ravaged by wars where religion is pitted against those who have installed ERR, and then the 23rd century where the newest technologies have robbed humanity of memory and emotion. Maes asks the reader to engage with the questions: what is human nature, and what is the importance of experience and emotion?

      To fully comprehend Fortuna, you must have read Laughing Wolf. The characters and explanations of the science behind the book are drawn straight from the first in the series, and Maes does not attempt to fill the new reader in. The best sequences are in ancient Rome where Maes enriches the text with quotes from Caesar and Roman writers, as well as details about Roman civilization, including its architecture, customs and people. His vision of the future is imaginative, troubling and didactic as he asks the reader to think twice before relying so heavily on technology. Felix is a likable protagonist who has only gotten more frustrated with the future since Laughing Wolf; Carolyn, although she has installed ERR, gradually become more human and likable throughout the story. Fortuna is a creative read that will please fans of the first book and those interested in the blending of ancient history with future technology.

      Fortuna is recommend it for fans of Nicholas Maes, people who liked/loved the first book and those interested in ancient history meets science fiction.


Stephanie Dror is in the MA in Children's literature program at the School of Library and Archival Studies, the University of British Columbia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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