the final book of The Verona Trilogy
A QUEST FOR LOST LOVE.
AN ADVENTURE OF MANY LIFETIMES.
Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln are three 24th-century time travelers desperate to return to 14th-century Verona and reclaim their medieval family’s shattered lives. It is a mission fraught with danger and the risk of unexpected consequences for themselves and their worlds. For all three, it is a matter of the heart. For one, though, it is truly the only thing that matters, as the fate of his eternal love and the life of their unborn child is the prize to be won – or lost forever.
In this, the final book of The Verona Trilogy, our three time travelers go on the boldest adventure of their lives. They will face hardship, tragedy, and threats from sources they couldn’t have imagined – all in an effort to wrestle a future from the steely grip of an unforgiving past.
As the above blurb says, our much matured characters are back home in their 24th century. But now their only thoughts are to go back and save their adopted family from the terrible fate which befell them. That means that many of the scenes in the book have both the older and younger protagonists in them. Here are a few EXCERPTS.
The first scene shows Hansum watching his younger self during the memorable moonlit scene on Verona’s city wall. Here, Arimus, Hansum’s 31st century mentor, is showing the now-older Hansum this pivotal scene from his earlier life. The older Hansum and Arimus are out of phase, invisible to his younger self and future wife, Guilietta.
He heard footsteps and turned to see his younger self and Guilietta strolling along the walkway toward them. They were holding hands, chatting animatedly, and then they’d steal looks at each other and giggle. As they walked by the two time travelers, Guilietta actually walked through Hansum. He felt a shiver as the two shared the same place in the universe again.
The newly-minted couple stopped and looked out over the city-side wall, pointing to the different buildings — Castle Vecchio, San Zeno, the Arena — and Hansum saw how, when he pointed to where their house should be, Guilietta leaned toward him, pressing her arm to his. Then Guilietta turned and moved to the other side of walkway, leaning on the wall between two parapets, gazing out over the countryside and up at the moon. Hansum watched his younger self move behind her, put his hands on her arms and gently, very gently, lean against her back.
“It’s a beautiful view,” Guilietta said.
“Si, and I have an especially beautiful view,” both Hansums replied. He watched Guilietta smile, as if she now knew for sure she’d won this young man’s attention. The older Hansum took a long breath, anticipating what he knew was to happen. A breeze came up and Guilietta shivered. “It’s getting cold. We should get going . . .” his younger self said, then . . . the older Hansum watched as the one girl he’d truly loved spun around and kissed him. He watched himself startle in surprise and then rise to the happy task. And then the older Hansum did something that really surprised him. He looked down, so as not to intrude on his former self’s intimacy, looking up only fleetingly, with great embarrassment. He felt a sadness in his chest. He looked over at Arimus, who was not looking at the first kisses either, but at his student.
“You’re playing with me,” Hansum said. “You’re doing this on purpose.”
“For sure on purpose, but not to play.
If it’s a Time Traveler you’re to be,
this is the only way.”
“I always thought love was just an emotion, part evolutionary imperative, mixed in with cultural conditioning. And because I could do it, chase girls, I did it . . . for fun. But,” Hansum looked up at the embracing couple, their bodies pressed together, “when I met Guilietta, I knew love was real, and that loving could be an expression of that, not just some biological act.” He watched the two stop kissing and look into the other’s eyes.
One of the many times Hansum and the others try to make things right is when Feltrino kidnaps Guilietta. But this time, instead of rescuing Guilietta, things get even worse. Guiletta, with her wrists tied to the saddle of a horse, falls into a fast-moving river. The older Hansum jumps in to save her, and is soon joined by his younger self. They now have to work together.
“Guilietta! Guilietta!” Hansum gasped, as he held on to the horse’s mane with one hand and incessantly beat the fast-moving water with the other. He was desperately trying to pull himself to his unconscious wife who was floating on the other side of the madly-thrashing horse. The poor animal was still trying to swim, but the river was moving so fast that nothing, animal or human, could fight its current. They bobbed up and down, like leaves, as the deep water rose and fell over the riverbed. And when they came to a bend in the waterway, the oddly configured assembly of horse and people spun in circles.
Hansum finally got two hands on the horse’s mane as they approached another curve. So far the river had been clear of deadly obstructions, but Hansum saw many ugly, jagged rocks, broken tree trunks and branches protruding from the water ahead. As they began to spin, the centrifugal force threw Hansum toward the horse and he was able to grab the saddle. He pulled himself onto it and finally grabbed Guilietta’s arms. His extra weight, however, caused the weakening animal to sink. As the horrified animal’s back and neck submerged, it stretched its head straight up to keep its mouth and nose in the air. Hansum pulled Guilietta over the horse and let himself slide off. The animal came up some, but it was obvious the poor thing was weakening. Hansum had to act quickly, before the horse died and dragged Guilietta down.
He saw someone running along the riverbank towards them. It was him, his younger self, running toward the water. He must have escaped from Lincoln, who was nowhere in sight. And then Hansum heard a deep rumbling. He looked up. There was a heavy cloud of mist ahead. This could only mean one thing. Rapids. The river was going to run downhill through rocks and broken trees.
“HELP! QUICKLY! HANSUM!” he called to his other self. “HURRY!” He looked down briefly and saw Guilietta’s eyes flutter. Perhaps it was the sound of his voice, but Guilietta was trying to regain consciousness. “Hold on, Guil,” he said into her ear. “Hold on, sweetheart.” She opened her eyes for a moment, recognition showing. She mouthed her name for him, ‘Romero’. Hansum bowed his head and kissed her hands and she smiled faintly, and then he felt the horse sink. He threw his weight off the horse but kept hold of the saddle. “HURRY!” he screamed again. He watched his younger self dive from the shore and into the water. “Help’s coming, Guilietta. Help’s coming,” Hansum said encouragingly. “We’re going to get you out . . .”
That’s when the partly submerged tree appeared, looming over them like a demon from the depths. The horse’s head took the brunt of it with a disgusting and brutal crack. It was killed instantly. The animal turned on to its side, whirling Guilietta off her perch and tossing her straight into a tangle of sharp, broken branches that stuck out like spears. Then, as the horse’s carcass spun away from the tree, it yanked her off the sharp, wooden spikes.
Hansum was thrown off too, but was able to catch hold of the horse’s tail. As the dead horse spun around in an eddy, Hansum caught hold of the saddle again. With the horse now on its side, Hansum saw another opportunity. He could see the girth strap for the saddle exposed. If he could unbuckle the cinches before the animal sank and before they hit the main part of the rapids, he could free Guilietta and only have the saddle to contend with. It was still an impossible situation, but less impossible than the present one.
That’s when the younger Hansum reached them.
“YOU BLOODY . . .”
“KEEP HER ABOVE WATER,” the older Hansum screamed above the din of the approaching rapids. “I’VE GOT TO GET THE SADDLE LOOSE.”
The younger Hansum grabbed the saddle where Guilietta was tied and flipped her onto her back. Her arms and hands were now stretched unnaturally over her head. Ducking below the water, he went under Guilietta, coming up with his chest under her back and his head next to her unconscious face. He was treading furiously to keep them both afloat, the rushing water spilling across his face and mouth. It was obvious he would go under before he let her do so.
The older Hansum took a deep breath and submerged, searching for the saddle’s cinch buckles. He grabbed hold of the girth strap and ran his hands along its length, but didn’t find any. He searched again and again, grasping under one side of the saddle and then the other, trying to find them. Finally, out of breath, he kicked and burst through the surface of the water to get more air. In that brief second he saw his younger counterpart, desperation and justifiable anger in his eyes. And he saw Guilietta, still out cold on her back, her mouth and eyes slightly open.
The roar of the rapids was now deafening and they were moving even faster. He plunged back into the water, running his hands along the saddle girth, still finding no clips, and then he froze as the truth of the matter seized him. He would find no brass cinches on this saddle girth because it wasn’t made of leather. It was a cheap rope girth, tied with a knot. It too was wet and as impossible to untie as Guilietta’s wrists. A rush of true panic buzzed up Hansum’s spine and burst in his brain. He kicked hard again, pushing himself upwards. His lungs were bursting with pain as he broke the surface, and when he did he screamed. He screamed so loud and hard it echoed over the rocky shore, and even over the sounds of the rapids
Both Lincoln and Shamira find love in this book too, although both prove problematic. Lincoln’s girl, Medea, is an artificial intelligence who doesn’t even have a body. And Shamira, her lover is Kingsley, a six-foot-six sculptor and rugby player from the 26th century.
Lory Kaufman says that his intention in this book was to exhaust the characters with one travail after another, challenging their determination to complete the task of saving their adopted 14th century family. Lory’s other aim was to challenge the readers’ ability to stay up late to read, and so many reader blogs have said, he’s done just that.