This is the first audiobook from the batch I bought from Audible at a discount.
The first book in a science fiction series about John O’Ryan.

Publication year: 1992
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible Inc.
Narrator: Stefan Rudnicki
Running Time: 11 hours, 31 minutes

John O’Ryan is an extraordinary man: he can learn in just a few minutes things that take others a lifetime to learn, he can control every part of his body consciously down to the molecular level, control his heartbeat and breathing, and he can use all of his brain. Yet, he works in an ordinary office and doesn’t have any real friends. One day, he’s sitting in a restaurant and sees three people. One is a young, beautiful woman and he falls in love with her. The second is a handsome, golden haired man, and the third is a muscular man who seems threatening. Then, someone throws in a grenade and O’Ryan saves the woman by throwing himself on top of her.

She still has to go to hospital and O’Ryan follows her. The woman, Aretha, claims that O’Ryan has a mission and it has something to do with her and the two men. Aretha says that she will help O’Ryan to remember. However, a nurse shoos him away and O’Ryan has to leave. He thinks about his past and present, and realizes that his life doesn’t feel like his own. He also feels that if he tries to find out about his past, his life will be in danger. But he has to know.

When O’Ryan tries to find Aretha again, she has checked out with the strange, threatening man. O’Ryan manages to track them down just in time to witness how the man kills Aretha. O’Ryan swears to avenger her. He’s able to track down the handsome man from the restaurant who tells him something that should be startling but which O’Ryan feels is true.

O’Ryan is really Orion, a hunter from 15,000 years in the future. His mission is to kill the mysterious threatening man, Ahriman, who killed Aretha. If Orion doesn’t succeed in killing Ahriman, all of human race will die.

This is an epic story. When Orion dies, he moves to another point in history where he can confront his nemesis again. Every time Orion’s woman is by his side, but each time she’s a contemporary woman who doesn’t know Orion or his mission. Her name also changes every time.

Orion, his woman, Ahriman, and the handsome man called Ohrmuzd are the main cast. The other characters change when Orion moves to a different time period.

When the story starts, the setting feels like a contemporary one. However, there are some clues that the technology is more advanced than ours; O’Ryan has a phone with a small video screen and holograms are used, even if they’re not common.

Then Orion jumps back in time to the Mongols, then to Stone Age, and then further back still. We get only small glimpses of each culture. Between each time period, there’s an interlude where two god-like people talk and we get to know more about the world and the motivations about some people. I don’t know much about the Mongols but what we see seems pretty accurate to me: patriarchal horse people who conquered China and are trying to expand further.

I had some issues with the portrayal of Stone Age, though. Of course, we can’t really know what went on then and probably different tribes had different customs. However, I found their treatment of women to be peculiar, or perhaps Orion’s conclusions. He observes that the small tribe he attaches himself to has very small number of children, most of them teenaged boys. So, he draws the conclusion that girl children are mostly killed at birth so that they aren’t producing more kids than the tribe can support. Also, women past childbearing age are killed, too. So… a woman is only good for breeding? She can’t, for example, hunt or gather food, or be a healer or priestess or make clothing or cook or know a lot of stuff when she’s older? Oh, wait, yes she can! Orion’s woman in this age is a healer and a priestess! She’ also a grown woman with a partner (the chief, of course) but no kids! She doesn’t have an apprentice, so if/when she’s killed the tribe will not have a healer anymore. Also, only women cook. Something here doesn’t add up… Also, if people are starving, it’s possible that the kids die young because of the environment, without any help from their parents, or that the women aren’t fertile or can’t carry to term. Some number of women are also going to die in childbirth. So, I don’t think the tribesmen need to especially kill girls. I also thought that small tribes wanted to expand. Isn’t population control is a far more modern concept? I thought that killing girls has more to do with dowries than limiting the number of babies.

Also, this tribe just hunts. They don’t gather food at all which seems very strange.

I also had some problems with Orion’s woman. For example, she and Orion don’t meet for the first time in this book at all. When we readers meet her for the first time, she already knows Orion who has only lost his memory. Later, she either is a contemporary woman who doesn’t know him or, in the last part, they already know and love each other. However, my biggest problem was that when the time period changes so did her personality. During modern times, she’s some what confident at first but succumbs rather easily to Ahriman’s threats. During the Mongolian times, she’s a healer who meekly follows Orion even though she doesn’t know him at all. During the Stone Age, she’s the chief’s woman who enjoys hunting and fighting. Later, she’s a warrior woman. So, who is this person Orion is supposed to love? Clearly, their love can’t be based on personality or shared experiences. So what is it based on? I have no idea. But it’s likely that I’m over thinking this.

Otherwise, this is a quick-paced adventure romp. Orion does think about time travel and the implications of everything he does but it’s overshadowed by his need to kill Ahriman.

Rudnicki is a good reader and he makes different voices for different characters. He’s pace is unhurried.

The next book in the series is set in the Trojan war!

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