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Timeline by Michel Crichton

Updated on December 2, 2014

This book is the lovechild of science fiction and historic fiction rolled into one. With the advent of a new technology facilitating multiverse travel it becomes apparent that a group of archaeology students will need to travel back in time to medieval France to rescue their professor who sends them a mysterious distress signal from the past while they are excavating a monastery site in Southern France. Michel Crichton keeps several parallel story lines running in such a way that keeps suspense to a page-turning "I can't put this book down" level with time ticking for those on the rescue mission. This book keeps you guessing right from the first chapter to the last page and is full of medieval (and modern) action. A truly enjoyable read.

When I was younger I was obsessed with certain periods of history which included the 12th through 14th centuries. I was fanatical about archery, made my own longbows and suit of chainmail (I might even make a lens about how to do this) and as soon as I was 18 (for insurance reasons) I learned to joust using a home made quintain (a rotating practice target). When my mother gave me Timeline for my birthday one year I was so excited to read a book that sounded like it was written entirely for me; combining my love of history with my fascination with science. Timeline did not disappoint and I have read it many times since then enjoying it each time I did so.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good tale even if they aren't a science or history buff.

WARNING : Do not read this book unless you have a large block of free time. Once you start reading it you simply can't stop till the end!


In an Arizona desert a man wanders in a daze, speaking words that make no sense. Within twenty-four hours he is dead, his body swiftly cremated by his only known associates. Halfway around the world archaeologists make a shocking discovery at a medieval site. Suddenly they are swept off to the headquarters of a secretive multinational corporation that has developed an astounding technology. Now this group is about to get a chance not to study the past but to enter it. And with history opened to the present, the dead awakened to the living, these men and women will soon find themselves fighting for their very survival–six hundred years ago. . . .

Synopsis from Knopf edition of Timeline


The Movie

Released in 2003 and directed by Richard Donner, Timeline is an adaptation of Michel Crichton novel starring Paul Walker, Frances O'Connor, Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly, David Thewlis and Anna Friel amoungst others.

I first read Timeline when I was much younger and loved it so much that when the movie was released I actively avoided it. Sometimes movies are as good as the original novel but in my experience I am invariably disappointed. I still have not seen the movie but every now and then I am tempted. In truth I am completely on the fence weather or not I would like to see this movie as reviews have varied from "Outstanding" to "Rubbish". There does not seem to be a correlation between the review and if the person reviewing has read the book or not with some pre-movie fans liking it and some hating it. At the moment I remain undecided but have included a comment section below so that readers of this can "big up" or "put down" the movie according to their views.


Adaptation of Michel Crichton's novel by the same title. A group of archaeology students return to medieval France to rescue their professor. The rescue atempt is made much more difficult by the region of France being at war with the English at the time. Huge battles and epic bad guys in this tale of time travel, treachery and friendship.


The movie was......

Great? Terrible? Mediocrity incarnate? Whatever you though we want to know.

Tell us what you thought - Did you like the book? Was the Review helpful?

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    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 2 years ago

      I never saw the movie but really enjoyed the book. I thought that the ending was more satisfying than most of Crichton's other stories many of which I have enjoyed only to be disappointed at the end.

      The siege of the castle and the fighting with medieval weaponry in general make for exciting reading. Do you see yourself in the character of Andre at all?

      Of all Crichton's books I enjoyed this one, the Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park the best-probably in that order. Plus, I doubt his theories on time travel will be proven to be full of holes any time soon.

      Great hub, Richard! Voted up!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      When Timeline first came out I was enchanted by the time travel aspect combined with the new technology and hoped the book would be a modern day version of "The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells. It was a great book and did not dissapoint. The movie was okay, but not as good as the book.

      For a fact, I read most of Michael Crichton's work enjoying his releases like "Coma", Jurassic Park", "Prey" and "The Lost World". As you know, "Andromeda Strain" was also his creation and the original movie was a blockbuster hit at the theaters.

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      I love Michel Crichton, but I haven't read this book. I'm going to have to check it out.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 3 years ago from United States

      Sounds like a very interesting book. I have never heard of it before and I frequently purchase Michel Crichton books for my dad and husband. I will have to add this one to their collection for Christmas. Thank you for the review and recommendation.

    • profile image

      sybil watson 3 years ago

      I don't know how I could have missed this book - I'm a huge Michael Crichton fan! Thanks for the great review, now I can't wait to read it.

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 3 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I've never read the book, but I enjoyed the movie!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 3 years ago from Ljubljana

      I have read it and it was one of my favorite Crichton's books.

    • tazzytamar profile image

      Anna 3 years ago from chichester

      Sounds like a really awesome book - I haven't read it or seen the film but now methinks I'll do both. Thanks for the info!